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SHALASH BAND

Symphonic Prog • Russia


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Shalash Band biography
Founded in Moscow, Russia in 2016

SHALASH BAND is a duo of keyboardist Dmitry KARAVAEV and drummer Maxim SMIRNOV, playing instrumental symphonic progressive rock.

Despite the minimal line-up, the band plays on the stage "enchanting symphonic progressive rock" with the sound and drive of full format band.

The band was formed in Russia (Moscow) in 2016 and released its debut album «Shalash» («Шалаш») in 2018. The album was presented at the stages of Moscow and Saint Petersburg and got positive feedback from musical experts and listeners. For fans of ELP and ARS NOVA

Bio by Shalash band
https://shalashband.bandcamp.com/album/shalash

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3.17 | 10 ratings
Shalash
2018

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 Shalash by SHALASH BAND album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.17 | 10 ratings

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Shalash
Shalash Band Symphonic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Shalash by SHALASH BAND album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.17 | 10 ratings

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Shalash
Shalash Band Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Shalash by SHALASH BAND album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.17 | 10 ratings

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Shalash
Shalash Band Symphonic Prog

Review by felonafan

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 pleasant, especially in tracks 2 and 7. An addition of grand piano and some other acoustic instruments can contribute to the improvements in the future. More diversity in sound, tempo and mood can lead to more influence on the listeners. These musicians should not be afraid to take the additional risk of engaging into the experiments! Highly recommended for all lovers of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Triumvirat, and other keyboard-based symphonic progressive rock! This album is very good addition to any prog rock collection.
 Shalash by SHALASH BAND album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.17 | 10 ratings

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Shalash
Shalash Band Symphonic Prog

Review by wiz_d_kidd

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 produce a fairly full sound.

Sometimes progressive music can be (for me, at least): dark, brooding, complex, dense, serious, obtuse, and angular. Shalash is refreshingly the opposite: bright, happy, straight forward, light, fun, familiar, and melodic. Shalash provides a good break when the prog music you're listening to becomes too challenging.

The compositions and music are quite enjoyable. Both musicians appear to be more than competent with their instruments. The album has well conceived compositions with nice chord progressions, toe tapping rhythms, surprising (but not awkward) changes, and forward-leaning grooves that maintain your interest. There are no vocals, aside from some recorded spoken passages in Russian.

There's obviously a creative mind behind this work. I think that inside Dmitri's head are complex compositions which he struggles to fully convey to the listener because he is limited to his 10 fingers and some recorded MIDI/audio tracks. These compositions really beg for more players -- perhaps a real bass player and guest guitarist or violinist. The synth substitutes are somewhat disappointing. And a little bit of production polish (stereo separation, reverb, mixing levels, etc.) would help to add some much-needed depth and spaciousness.

Most of the track names have had their Russian words replaced with abbreviations. Discogs provided the full Russian names, which I passed through Google Translate to get the following track listing (approved by Dmitry via private correspondence):

1. 54321 2. 12/8 3. For Glory 4. Wall of Sound (for Truth) 5. Vremiri 6. Russian Traditional 7. Knight Tournament 8. Dances 9. Woodstock 10. Shalash (Hut)

The highlights of the album, for me, are tracks 7, 8 and 9 in which you'll hear some fine keyboard work (some reminiscent of Keith Emerson), and even some Santana-inspired passages complete with cow-bell! Overall, it's a refreshingly upbeat debut album. Three stars -- allowing room for growth.

 Shalash by SHALASH BAND album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.17 | 10 ratings

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Shalash
Shalash Band Symphonic Prog

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

Thanks to rdtprog for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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