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Hoggwash - Spellbound CD (album) cover

SPELLBOUND

Hoggwash

 

Symphonic Prog

3.67 | 29 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Hoggwash is basically a two-man collaboration between Ukrainian keyboardist, composer and vocalist Antony Kalugin and Welsh songwriter William Mackie, who is the co-producer and distributor (in Caerllysi Music) of all Kalugin's projects. Making the follower to Hoggwash's debut album The Last Horizon (2007) took a long time because Kalugin's two other bands, SUNCHILD and KARFAGEN, gained "so much momentum that I felt Hoggwash 2 could happily wait", says Mackie on the liner notes. "When studio recording begins my work is largely done, so I am able to enjoy him taking what are traditional song structures and developing the music to what you hear now", Mackie writes. Kalugin in his turn has invited some co-musicians: Max Velichko (guitars), Oleg Prokhorov (bass), Ivan Rubancyuk (drums), Anatoliy Shmargun (percussion) and Michail Sidorenko (alto sax on four tracks), plus two guys on backing vocals.

Compared to Karfagen or Sunchild, Hoggwash is a bit more song oriented, and more "outgoing" and "happier" in the atmosphere. I agree with the sole previous reviewer of this album, that mixing the symphonic approach of Camel or Genesis with the pomposity of Saga, or why not Styx, gives some idea of the music. The opener 'Soldier of Fortune' (nothing to do with the well-known hard rock hit) is an obvious highlight, proceeding instrumentally for nearly half of its 8+ min. length before Kalugin's vocals enter. Such wonderful solos for synths and electric guitar along the way! 'Another Game' is closer to pop, but still with a distinctive prog edge. Think of AMBROSIA's debut for instance, and 10cc for the fullness of musical ideas within the song structure. 'Let the Lady Smile' is, especially for the chorus, highly catchy and danceable, almost like George Michael's early solo stuff.

On some tracks there's a very Supertramp-reminding electric piano, which however is just one ingredient on the rich soundscape. 10-track, 67-minute Spellbound is an energetic joyride of perfectly produced prog-pop. Some songs are happier, some more introspective (especially the long 'Out of the Abyss'), but always the playing is very enjoyable, and also the vocal harmonies work well. If you like Swedish prog band MOON SAFARI, Hoggwash will probably please you. The closing song 'Life's Conundrum' (marked as a bonus track) is sung slightly nasally by Sergiy Obolonkov. Not a bad extra ingredient, although I prefer Kalugin's own warm voice. All in all, this extremely well executed and charmingly pop-sensible album is easy to enjoy.

Matti | 4/5 |

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