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Little Tragedies - Return CD (album) cover


Little Tragedies

Symphonic Prog

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erik neuteboom
4 stars WOW, here's an amazing progrock CD that carries me away to progheaven! It's the latest CD from the Russian progrock band Little Tragedies. During the first listening session I noticed a very mid-Emersonian inspired keyboard sound, especially the Yamaha GX-1 super- synthesizer (known from the video-clip "Fanfare for the common man" from ELP) but also a typical ethnic flavor, mainly the wonderful Russian vocals.

The first composition "Dream 1" features classical orchestrations (evoking The Enid) and soaring keyboards, followed by the distinctive Eastern-European atmosphere with Russian vocals and some folky sounds. Then splendid keyboardwork, heavy guitar-riffs and in the end a flashy synthesizer solo. The song "After death" is very alternating: excellent guitarplay (sensitive, heavy riffs and fiery runs), spectacular keyboards (organ and synthesizer) and a propulsive rhythm- section. In "Credo" we can enjoy swirling interplay between guitar and keyboards and in "Neuromantic" the contrast between the howling guitar and majestic harpsichord is very captivating, along with the Russian vocals! Among all those cascades of sumptuous progrock there are a few mellow tracks like "Canzona" (sensitive electric guitar and beautiful piano work) and "Return" (subdued with warm Russian vocals). My highlight on this CD is the composition "On the themes of Grieg": lots of sumptuous and fluent prog featuring marvellous keyboard work, inspired vocals and a final part featuring great duels between guitar and keyboards, in the vein of Trace, mid-ELP and the Japanese keyboard driven prog, SUPERB!!


Report this review (#51300)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 2000 was also the year Little Tragedies actually flirted with the normal band tag.Ilyin established a 5-piece line-up, which -besides him- featured Yuri Skripkin on drums, Alexander Malakhovsky on guitar, Oleg Babynin on bass/vocals and Aleksey Bildin on saxophone.This formation worked on the last part of the trilogy inspired by the poetry of Nikolay Gumilyov.They presented their new material for the first time in Kursk during a few shows and later at the SKIF Festival in St. Petersburg, dedicated to Avant-Garde/Experimental composer Sergey Kurekhin, who died prematurely in 1996.2003 was also the album's year of release on MALS.

The formation of a regular band allowed Ilyin to focus on his keyboard parts, no wonder so that this was the strongest Little Tragedies album to date.It's bombastic Symphonic Rock with E.L.P. inspirations with the overall atmosphere reminding me of MOTOI SAKURABA's solo Prog-influenced albums and that's because, apart from the standard powerful keyboard exercises, the album contains lots of romantic textures and melodic lines.Guitars now appear more frequently, although the album is heavily-keyboard oriented, and the spark in the electric solos is a breathe of fresh air in Little Tragedies' pompous and Classical-inspired music.Once more a Little Tragedies album is characterized by the excellent Hammond organ parts and the omnipresent neurotic synth moves, which often break into more dreamy and soft tunes.Great dramatic arrangements walk in parallel with Ilyin's expressive vocals in Russian, but notice that the album is mostly instrumental, driven by the love of the Russian composer for intense and grandiose keyboard-led orchestrations.There are also a few pieces with programmed string and wind instruments, supported always by Ilyin's atmospheric synthesizers, resembling more to acts like THE ENID and based much on contemporary Classical Music.

A great way to end an otherwise very strong trilogy of albums.Eventually all instruments sound so natural, that lift the compositions to a higher level.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#163007)
Posted Saturday, March 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I fully agree with colleague Collaborator Erik Neuteboom who said that this album is amazing. That's the same reaction I experienced when I played it for the first time especially with its first track "Dreams I" (5:59) which has intense multi-layered keyboard drive throughout the song. The opening part is an ambient nuance with exploration of keyboard effects plus guitar. The music then flows nicely with punctuated keyboard sounds followed by nice Russian singing. The next track "After Death" (8:58) brings the music in more dynamic way on keyboard as well as drumming. You might say that this is an ELP or Keith Emerson keyboard-driven exercise but you might also say that this is when ELP plays progressive metal. It's merely due to the nature by which the pulsating keyboard is accompanied by fast speed music that moves the music in complex and even technical experimentations.

"Credo" (12:57) reminds me to ELP's "Fanfare for The Common Man" in faster tempo. Throughout the track you can find full nuances of ELP music even though the sound is much more modern and the drumming is not as dynamic as Carl Palmer. Approaching mid of the track the tempo of the track slows down followed with vocal line. This time I can sense the music is similar to CAST (Mexico). "In the Deserted House" (4:33) is mellow in nature. However, the keyboard makes the music quite dynamic especially when it's combined with energetic singing. This track requires no drumming and it has intense symphonic vein. "Games" (6:23) is another excellent track with powerful singing and solid composition. The rest of tracks are also excellent.

Overall, the music of Little Tragedies is quite varies in styles and complex in structure / arrangements. I would consider this as an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin'..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#183267)
Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars With "Return", Little Tragedies have progressed into one of the very best bands in the contemporary "Symphonic prog / art rock" genre. I have no clue what the lyrics are about as it is all in Russian - but the music speaks for itself - and how it speaks! This is truly excellent! Imagine a combination of ELP, Arena, Dream Theater, classical music with a Russian twist and the outcome will be pretty close to Little Tragedies. The band leader and main composer, Gennady Ilyin, has developed to be an excellent composer and the music is very melodic and appealing, beautiful and complex - also for the demanding listener. This is very much keyboard-driven music - but all musicians perform extremely well and play with loads of feeling and technical skill; this is indeed a very tight and good album. Absolute world class! Highly recommended!
Report this review (#1068936)
Posted Wednesday, October 30, 2013 | Review Permalink

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