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Iamthemorning - Belighted CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.84 | 372 ratings

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4 stars Russian band iamthemorning, which revolves around the creative partnership of keyboardist Gleb Kolyadin and vocalist Marjana Semkina, quickly rose to prominence following the release of their debut album "~" back in 2012. Since it's release they have released an EP, and in 2015 they also released a live album documenting their efforts on stage. "Belighted" is their second studio production, and was released in the fall of 2014 on prestigious UK label KScope.

I belong to those people who thought it was a brilliant idea for KScope to snap up this fine, talented band. I really enjoyed their debut album, and found the music they explored there to be one that would fit quite nicely in to the KScope roster of bands due to the emphasis on moods and atmospheres, and was of course interested to hear how this band had developed since that event took place.

iamthemorning continues to explore their particular brand of what one might call atmospheric laden progressive rock in a fine manner. We're treated to interludes with a firm nod in the direction of classical music, Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" did come to mind on a couple of occasions for those, mainly due to Kolyadin's piano motifs I guess, as Mussorgsky's piece originally was one made for that instrument, and did feature interludes between the main parts of the composition. Marjana's vocals are more sparingly applied in those sections when present, naturally enough I guess, as these atmospheric interludes for me first and foremost comes across as ones that highlight the talents of Kolyadin.

As for the rest of the songs, they are by and large of the same general orientation as the ones on the band's debut album. Marjana's vocals combines fine with orchestral backing, piano and careful use of rock instrumentation. Drummer Harrison makes his presence heard obviously, but by and large the instrument aspects of the compositions are mainly mellow, although a recurring element is how these compositions builds up to the occasional layered, majestic and dramatic crescendo prior to subsiding again. In that context this band has something of a post-rock spirit to it, and it is very much appropriate when some of the tracks also features careful use of delicate guitar textures of a post-rock orientation.

There's a lot of positives to this album, and second to last track Reprise of Light / No Light, with it's careful build up to a sound, mood and arrangement more than a bit like Kate Bush' massive hit Cloudbusting, is perhaps the main positive for me, alongside Marjana's expanded vocal repertoire: At least to my ears she appears to use a few more approaches and variations to her singing now than on the band's debut album, indicating a vocalist still intent on development.

The downside for me is that the album as a whole feels, in lack of other words, safe. There are few edges to the material, other than the blazing guitar riffs that book-end second track The Howler, and I get the impression that Marjana's vocals are somewhat restrained too. Partially due to mix and production I guess, but she also appears to stay within the scope of the careful and dream-laden vocal delivery a bit too much. Memory is rarely trustworthy, but my recollection is that there were at least a few more emotionally laden, powerful vocal details at play on the band's debut album, even if subtly rather than dramatically so, but this aspect isn't much of a feature this time around. The combination of these two for me results in an album that lacks those moments of pure magic and brilliance I treasured when I encountered the band initially. I should add that these are minor points though, and rather subjective at that.

In many cases, especially in the past, there were comments about the dreaded second album, when an artist had created a good debut but then ran out of steam the second time around. Thankfully this isn't the case with iamthemorning, who have made a quality effort with their second CD "Belighted". Perhaps a little bit on the safe side musically, but the compositions continue to be compelling and to blend inspirations from classical music, rock and post-rock in a generally appealing and interesting manner. A band with a potentially broad reach too, I wouldn't be all that surprised if they develop into a unit that makes an impact also in the mainstream music market if they manage to keep at it.

Windhawk | 4/5 |


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