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Mister Robot - Robot Dreams CD (album) cover

ROBOT DREAMS

Mister Robot

 

Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 27 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars A fine second effort from young Russian solo artist Aleksei Ruzakin--follow up to his surprising and excellent 2020 debut, Fables for Robots.

1. "Sleep (Inside a Dream)" (1:20) opens with a keyboard and guitar that sound like they come straight out of a 1980s New Age album by GOBI or the Brothers Gordon. But it's nice. (4.25/5)

2. "Awakening" (7:54) Quite an impressive little multi-part mini-epic--great keyboard, guitar, and vocal work. The drums and sound engineering fall short of the standards established by the above, however; the instruments feel too starkly separated; there needs to be better blending and mixing of the sound fields of the individual instruments. A little TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA-feel in the second section. (I wonder if he knows--and likes--the loud scraping sound of his picks hitting his guitar strings with every pluck.) I LOVE that Aleksei has decided to sing in his native tongue! Probably the most mature sounding song on the album. (13.25/15)

3. "Return" (11:27) some cheesy, outdates sounds given to two-chord strumming rhythm guitars, drums, and even the vocals--though, again, I really appreciate Aleksei's voice and the fact that he has courageously chosen to sing in his native Russian. The bass lines are also rather rudimentary--and thin. The highlights are all in the individual soloing keyboards and electric guitars. (17.33/20)

4. "Eternal Procession" (5:02) a nice little filler that almost feels like an study of Mike Oldfield guitar tones and styles (which he performs and engineers wonderfully), but otherwise feels under-developed. And, wouldn't it be nice if that flute solo were an actual flute? My second favorite song on the album. (8.67/10)

5. "Landscape to Order" (9:19) multiple keyboard flutes and complex Spanish guitar play open this one before drums and jazz fretless bass enter to support Aleksei's dynamic vocal performance. His vocal style reminds me tremendously of that of Polish band Lizard's lead singer, Damian Bydlinski. Great melodies! Though the song flows very much like a pop song, it has some truly wonderful (and spacious) performances from the instrument components (though I'd throw out that fifth minute). The most polished and cohesive song on the album (despite the incongruent fifth minute)--helped by great acoustic guitar and synth play and awesome melody lines. My favorite song on the album. (18/20)

6. "A Bedtime Story" (2:43) acoustic guitars (or guitar-like instrument) layered over each other with various echo and delay effects. Begins to slip over into the realm of New Age in the second minute, but then the guitars get serious and the drums, bass, and lead electric begins to solo. Another song that sounds more like an étude than a finished composition. (4/5)

7. "Falling Asleep (Legendary Pink - CEAE)" (3:04) a song that certainly sounds dream like, but one that also suffers, as above, from poor sound engineering. Nice chord and melody choices. My third favorite song on the album. (8.75/10)

Total Time 40:49

Compositionally, production-wise, even in terms of technical skills/prowess, this album does little to show Aleksei's progress from last year. "Awakening" and "Landscape to Order" are the best songs--for their dynamics and compositional diversities--and for the fact that they both sound the most like "finished" songs--but, still, they're a bit too messy and sadly deficient in places. Though I still love his sound, his style, his vision, I still see a LOT of room for growth. As I recommended in my review of last year's release: Aleksei, I think you'd benefit tremendously from the inputs of a professional drummer and seasoned sound engineer. Who knows, collaboration may not damage your vision (or ego) but enhance and expand it!

B/four stars; a fine sophomore effort from a very talented artist from whom I still hope for GREAT things in the future. Highly recommended to all prog lovers for their own enjoyment and edification.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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