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Iamthemorning - Belighted CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.84 | 372 ratings

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4 stars While not as breathtakingly fresh as 2012's stunning debut, ~, Belighted is a step forward for this young duo of Russian songwriters. With Belighted iamthemorning steps into modern recording studio, collaborates with seasoned prog rock musicians, and lays down a more diverse palette of songs. What for me (and other reviewers) has really caught my attention is the growth and maturation of singer Marjana Semkina. Her delivery of the lyrics adds such a powerful emotional depth and 'heaviness' as to in effect upgrade what could be fairly run-of- the-mill songs into powerful masterpieces. I know of very few singers in progressive rock music--past or present--who have this kind of effect on a song's overall impact. In particular, "Romance," "The Simple Story," "Gerda," and "Reprise of Light/No Light," and the first and last "Intermission" benefit most dramatically from Ms. Semkina's growth--though no song graced with her vocal touch fails to engage and win over the listener. I have to agree, however, with other reviewers that I think it an overall damaging flaw of the album that Marjana's vocals are not mixed more prominently into the forefront.

The theme of having "Intermission" songs between most of the full-length, vocalized songs continues from ~ though here there are only five to work their magic between the ten full- length songs (most of which are presented in pairs). There is a difference on Belighted as the Intermissions are not so folk/neoclassical oriented. They are more like sound experiments, each showcasing a different instrument: Marjana's dreamy voice, guitar, piano & waves, cello & piano, and strings and voice, respectively. Each, in turn, is treated with various and sundry sound engineering effects.

Again, I can't say that this album has hit me with the same kind of power as their debut--but ~ was so fresh and unexpected. Belighted comes at you with Marjana's now familiar voice and a greater variety of backup and stylings, though Gleb's extraordinary piano work and strings arrangements are still quite present and essential to most every song. I am quite fascinated and taken with the five Intermissions, but there are two rather delicate piano-centric songs that don't lift off as well as my hopes and expectations desire despite Gleb's extraordinary talent ("Crowded Corridors" and "Os Lunatum"). I think I'm waiting for Marjana's input to take the songs to another level, to a some kind of soaring crescendo. These are by no means bad songs--and are intricately crafted pieces of beauty. They just could have been . . . more. And then there are three songs that simply don't click with me ("The Howler," "Romance" and "K.O.S.").

I agree that this is no sophomore slump. Belighted is a collection of beautiful, intricately crafted songs. Gleb and Marjana both display extraordinary growth, artistry, and skill. I want to give these shining young stars of modern music five stars but I think--I hope--that there is more, even better, music to come.

Five star songs: "To Human Misery," "The Simple Story," "Gerda," the Kate Bush-like "5/4, "Reprise of Light/No Light," and all of the "Intermissions."

4.5 star album that, unfortunately, leaves room for improvement.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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