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Shalash Band - Shalash CD (album) cover

SHALASH

Shalash Band

 

Symphonic Prog

3.17 | 10 ratings

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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.

Matti | 3/5 |

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