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Shalash Band

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Shalash Band Shalash album cover
3.52 | 20 ratings | 8 reviews | 5% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2018

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 54321 (3:51)
2. 12/8 (7:59)
3. V.S. (3:52)
4. S.Z. (6:59)
5. V (4:00)
6. R.N. (5:17)
7. R.T. (5:23)
8. P (3:25)
9. W (4:44)
10. S (6:00)

Total Time 51:30

Line-up / Musicians

- Dmitry Karavaev / keyboards
- Maxim Smirnov / drums & percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Maxim Smirnov

CD Shalash Band Records ‎- S.B.R. 001 (2018, Russia)

Digital album

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Buy SHALASH BAND Shalash Music

SHALASH BAND Shalash ratings distribution

(20 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SHALASH BAND Shalash reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Kempokid
3 stars After my review of the album 'Adventures at the Babooinumfest 2017' by another Russian band 'Rozmainsky & Mikhaylov Project', I got a request from keyboardist Dmitry Karavaev to review this album. something I do feel quite honoured about. Anyway, after a few listens, my thoughts boil down to this. Is it incredibly innovative? No. However, it does have a great general sound to it, and happens to be incredibly enjoyable nonetheless. My immediate thoughts upon listening to this album was finding comparisons in the keyboard driven approach to the music with the work of Keith Emerson. That said, the biggest difference between this album and something by 'Emerson, Lake and Palmer' is that this doesn't have the same indulgence that could sometimes get in the way of my full enjoyment of their albums. This provides a more cohesive listening experience overall and doesn't provide the listener with some dull moments such as the obnoxiously long and tedious drum solo in 'Tank'.

Another aspect that immediately comes to mind when listening to this is how full the band sounds despite there only being 2 members in it, which I'm assuming is largely due to manipulating the keyboards in such a way to provide groovy basslines and even sometimes emulate the sound of wind instruments or guitars. The album also seems to have a particularly summery edge to the sound of keyboards, such as the opening song '54321' which almost sounds like something that would be used to convey the beach, albeit more complex and somewhat stranger in nature. I find the track '12/8' to be fun to listen to and also quite rhythmically interesting, along with having some moments that caught me off guard first time around, such as when the keyboards end up sounding like a clarinet. Moments like this really add another layer of depth to the music, along with some unpredictability, which is always fun to have a bit of. I find 'V.S' to be one of the stronger tracks here, mostly because of the incredibly smooth melodies used throughout, with of course, more time for Karavaev to shine with his impressive keyboard skills. Despite me going on and on about the keyboards here, due to the extreme prominence of them, the drumming in 'S.Z.' is great, being really energetic and fun, with the beat being fairly consistent, but quite enjoyable to listen to. This song is very dynamic in general, having sections focusing more on groovy basslines, while others have the keyboard sound like a harpsichord, with the song never dipping in quality at all. The next few songs follow a similar pattern of highly enjoyable keyboard work with some fun rhythmic elements and an all around pleasant sound, with tracks having a couple of interesting moments, such as the various sections of spoken word in 'R.N.' 'R.T.' has a medieval sound to it, which is a nice change of tone and pace, along with having some percussion other than drums, such as a cowbell, but overall leaves me a bit cold, as I do find it to get repetitive. It isn't until 'W' where things really pick up again, but I love this track for the combination of the more varied percussion and the really great, groovy bassline. The song further ups the ante by then having the chanting in the background, overall making this a song that you can happily bob your head along to. 'S' is one of my favourite songs here, as I find the melody to be very strong and the song to have a particular tone that's really fitting for a closer, although I can't quite place my finger on it, but despite that, I do find it to be a great song.

Overall, despite sounding a lot like the work of Keith Emerson a lot of the time, I really enjoy this album on the whole. It's a mix of extreme enjoyability with some truly impressive technicality and composition, with a big focus on making an album that is enjoyable to listen to. The way it sound like a 4 person band in places despite being a duo is also seriously impressive. The only thing stopping me from giving this 5 stars is the fact that I never had the moment in which I felt truly wowed, but I nonetheless have found this album to be of high quality.

Best Songs: 12/8, W, S

Weakest Songs: R.T.

Verdict: This album is fairly easy to get into and enjoy as long as you enjoy instrumental music. The keyboard work is great, and I overall had a great time with this album.

Edit: Despite enjoying this album quite a bit for the first few listens, I don't really have plans on revisiting this anytime soon, I guess it kinda grew off me, although I still am definitely looking forward to seeing any future albums, as there's definitely some potential

Review by Matti
3 stars Thank you, Dmitry Karavaev, for asking me to review this album. Moscow-based Shalash features just Karavaev on keyboards and Maxim Smirnov on drums. I don't know how the bass sound is produced, but it sounds like a real bass guitar to me, even though that instrument is not mentioned. So, for the sound this duo is on a high level of a so called power trio, in my honest opinion. The eponymous debut album contains ten tracks of instrumental prog rock, naturally very centred on organ and other keyboards; since the music is mostly in a happy mood and in a lively tempo, Keith Emerson easily comes to my mind, why not also Rick Wakeman as a solo artist (e.g. Journey to the Centre of the World), for the overall impression.

One thing I have to criticize as a non-Russian-speaking listener is the fact that all texts in the CD are in Russian only, also track titles. Seemingly the capital abbreviations presented here were the artist's own idea, but I would have appreciated some kind of English translations. I asked my workmate who has studied Russian to translate the titles, and I do feel that I "understand" many tracks better after having a faint idea of the composer's own ideas behind the pieces. There may be some misinterpretations, and the word for track No. 5 we couldn't figure at all. The word Shalash itself probably means a humble dwelling place such as wigwam, and the sticks leaning each other on the cover would confirm that.

The opener is titled '54321' and features voices of astronauts throughout the joyous piece starring Emersonian organ. Also the the second track's a numeral, '12/8'. The 8-minute piece -- the longest in the set -- features a nice, and to my ears rather Wakemanesque, multi-level synth work. During No. 3, meaning something like "Reputation", one may start feeling worried for the whole album being more or less the same joyful stuff. Unfortunately for the most part things tend to be that way, which is the main reason my rating is no more than three stars for this very well produced and played album.

No. 4, with a title meaning something like "Wall of Sound (for the Truth)", starts with a hollow Moog sound reminiscent of Wendy Carlos' soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange, and also the rest of this highlight track brings a little of the wished variety, thanks for the relatively versatile soundscape and at places almost a jazzy groove. Of No. 5 I haven't much to say, the usual up-tempo organ-centred stuff. No. 6 features some narration in Russian and also an accordeon sound in the beginning; the title may mean "Russian Folktale". Quite many not-so-interesting and rather samey compositions this far, but the album improves a bit towards the end.

The 7th track is probably inspired by duelling knights and is another highlight, featuring more details in a progressive sense than this album averagely. 8th: "Dance" or "Ball". Again, a fairly good piece in its own right, but a sense of tiredness starts to set in. Too much of that Emersonian merriness for my taste. Track No. 9 sounds like rather straight-forward vintage jazz-rock. Some sound collages add a feeling of a rock festival, and yes, the title clearly refers to Woodstock! This track brings nice variety variety. The final title track is among the highlights with its determinate voyage-like atmosphere and the lack of the usual merriness.

'Good, but non-essential' is pretty precisely what I feel for this well made album. Sincerely recommended to friends of instrumental keyboard-centred prog rock in mostly Major key.

Review by jamesbaldwin
3 stars Also, like Kempokid and others, after receiving (with a private message) the request to review "ROZMAINSKY & MIKHAYLOV PROJECT - Adventures at the Babooinumfest 2017", published in last month, I received the request to review this album (Shalash, 2018) by the group keyboard player Dmitry Karavaev. And so, flattered, now I'm willingly willing to this burden. Notwithstanding, I am not an expert in Russian music, nor am I a lover of instrumental symphonic prog.

What do you listen to on this record? A drum and keyboard music, then with only two instruments, and without singing (apart from some recitative voice present in a few songs). It's therefore minimalist music, somewhat homogeneous, and ambient: halfway between EL & P and Brian Eno. In fact, I have listened to it as film music, or background music, that isn't very demanding music.

To please, to be appreciate, such minimalist music, which can't count on the arrangements or the voice, must have some ingredients: 1) good composition 2) good creativity / originality 3) good performance

The music of the Russian duo has all three qualities, in particular the second and the third. Of course the keyboard player has talent and creativity. The compositions (and melodies) are not memorable, but they are quite good.

The first song "54321 (3:51)" is pleasant, cheerful, well-marked. In the melody you hear something Slavic. Vote 7. The second, "12/8 (7:59)" eight minutes, begins as a slow ballad, but then has a sudden speeding up, the keyboard player enters a tour de force and then returns the ballad, at a faster pace than the initial one. Vote 7.5. The third one "V.S. (3:52)" has a rhythm and a pop mood, it seems like a nursery rhyme. The rhythm continues to change, the musicians do their best in virtuosity. Acrobatic. Paradoxical. 6.5.

"S.Z. (6:59)", seven minutes is one of the best songs of entire Lp: Vote: 8. Start and end psychedelic, central core very well rhythmic and engaging, great work of the drummer Maxim Smirnov. The fifth: "V (4:00)" is less convincing, too syncopated, Vote 7+. The sisxth piece, "R.N. (5:17)", opened by spoken words in Russian, gives a folk flavor to the song, which has some rhythmic passage similar to the polka. The voice returns in some situations to give a very characteristic Slavic folk dance color. Psychedelic final. Vote 7,5/8. Also the next song ("R.T. (5:23)") has a Slavic folk dance rhythm, then the song takes another direction, going towards an almost epic space rock final. Vote 7+.

So far Shalash Band have managed not to get bored while adopting a keyboard / drums music. Their music is listened to with pleasure.

"P (3:25)", is shortest but engaging. Vote 7,5. "W (4:44)" opens at a samba rhythm, then comes a noise piece, then samba come back. Very strange. Vote 7. The last song, "S (6:00) is more solid. It's like a miz between Pink Floyd and New Order. Spoken words, space rock atmosphere, and a heavy pulse. Vote 8.

Good music. Good creativity. Good ability to keep the listener's attention high without asking too much effort but also without giving him food made of too banal rhythms or melodies. Good balance between demdanding music and light music. It is made to listen with pleasure. Recommended for lovers of rock instrumental with psychedelic and folk inflections.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,375. Vote album: 7,75/8. Rating: Three Stars.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Russian band SHALASH is a fairly recent venture, and was formed back in 2016 by keyboardist Dmitry Karavaev and drummer Maxim Smirnov. The two remains the sole members of the band at this point, handling all instrument roles themselves. They self-released their debut album "Shalash" in early 2018.

Instrumental symphonic progressive rock isn't the largest subset of progressive rock, even if we are talking about a band with a strong focus on the first half of the 1970's in terms of direct inspiration. Still, those who tend to find music from that era and this particular subset of progressive rock to be of interest should feel right at home with this album, and then in particular those fond of this specific kind of music honing in on positive and uplifting moods and atmospheres.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Shalash are a Russian duo comprising Dmitry Karavaev (keyboards) and Maxim Smirnov (drums, percussion) who released this their debut album "Shalash" ("Шалаш") in 2018. Just a few things to note even before starting the review, in that they have an informative website which is in both Russian and English, and this is a self-released digipak which they sent all the way down to New Zealand for me to have a physical copy even though I had said I was happy with the digital files. Dmitry also sent me loads of links to different sites, as he wanted me to have as much information as possible ' given that some bands seem to deliberately it make it hard for reviewers, it is a refreshing change.

Dmitry and Maxim have actually been working together since 2001 in the band Aurum, Argentum and Skumbrium (who have also released numerous albums), but they decided to record and perform as a duo in 2016, taking the name Shalash which apparently is Russian for Hut. There is something really enjoyable about this album, which is uplifting, fun and a bloody good time all at once. There are times when it is quite bombastic, almost in an ELP sense, but even when it is not quite at that scale there is still a driving force behind it. One of the reasons for this is that what we have here are a series of rock songs, not just keyboard meanderings, and although Maxim does let Dmitry have his own space here and there it is normally only for a few bars and then he is back driving it all along. Dmitry uses sounds and styles which are certainly dated, and if I had been sent this and been told it was a reissue, I would have pegged it between 1968 and 1974 in terms of original release date. Keyboards are used to emulate the bass, but here in terms of what a bassist would do with complex runs as opposed to something being produced just with a left hand, such as used to be the case by Vincent Crane. Given they gig as a duo I presume this means they use sequencers as I can't see how Dmitry can provide what needs to be done unless he has at least three hands and given the additional layering of keyboards he probably needs four.

They bring in folk influences here and there, Russian speech at others, psychedelic at yet others, and overall the result is an incredibly easy album to listen to, and one I have really enjoyed playing. The band have also made it available through Bandcamp so why not give it a try?

Review by FragileKings
4 stars From time to time, I'll find a message in my mailbox asking me to review an album. I'm both pleased and honoured to be asked and at the same time I feel the burden of responsibility to give a fair listen when I might actually be totally into something else at the time. Something about this request made me want to lend my ears, however, and soon I found myself thinking, "You know, I need to have this album in order to properly enjoy it."

At least one reviewer has mentioned a similarity to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, surely because Shalash are a keyboard/drums/bass band with there being no bass guitar credit, so I must assume the bass parts are created with keyboards. My first impressions though were more like some tracks sound like the weird electronic music that's in those bizarre videos by Cyriak only recorded using real instruments. Other times, the music reminds me of a Quebec seventies band who were called Incubus in the day but after reforming had to change their name to Ex-cubus because a metal band had since taken the name. Ex-cubus is also a keyboard/drums/bass band but with a sound like Italian prog, not English. So there was this familiarity about Shalash's music.

This is not prog for everyone. It's quirky, it's fun, and quite cheerful at times. If you've ever heard the kind of music by the (not) surf band Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet you might detect that spirit here, even though the musical styles are quite different.

All the tracks are instrumentals, though some include spoken Russian such as the first track, "54321", which is about a rocket launch so you hear the radio communications between cosmonauts and ground crew. It makes for a great introduction to the album. The next track "12/8" has that Cyriak beginning before settling into a very pleasing slow-tempo organ solo instrumental that reminds me of some Quebec prog bands again. The closing track, "S" is also one that stands out for me as is, "S.Z."

One thing is that most track titles are given as letters, such as "V", "R.N.", and "P". These letters represent the alphabet letter at the beginning of the track titles, which are actually in Russian. Perhaps knowing that many of us out there don't read Russian (as unfortunate as that may be), they traded their Russian titles for letters and numbers. Given the peculiar nature of the music, this adds some mystery, but I feel something amiss not to see the actual Russian text.

Because this is such an interesting and, let's say uncommon album of music, it's not one you're likely to play at wedding parties or while cruising the seaside strip. Then again, a lot of prog isn't. Still, it's an album that is for those special times when you just gotta hear something special and unusual.

I'd love to give this album four stars simply for all that went into it. But I don't want to mislead the casual viewer who might mistake this for the next Triumvirate. The band is certainly on the right track, however, and I expect we'll be hearing more eyebrow-raising music from them in the future. Consider it a fascinating delight for the adventurous of taste but not something for everyone.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The debut great album of the new Russian prog rock band! No singing, no strings. A lot of keyboards. The influence of Emerson, the Russian and other classical music. Two musicians - a keyboard player and a drummer - can substitute for the full-blown rock band. This music is very enjoyable and pleasa ... (read more)

Report this review (#2131861) | Posted by felonafan | Sunday, January 27, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Quick, name a two-man band consisting of keyboards and drums... Did you think of Zombi? Well, here's another: Shalash, from Russia, with Dmitry Karavaev on keys, and Maxim Smirnov on drums. Even though it's just the two of them, they supplement their music with other recorded audio (or MIDI) to p ... (read more)

Report this review (#2121519) | Posted by wiz_d_kidd | Saturday, January 26, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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