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Compassionizer - Narrow Is the Road CD (album) cover





4.11 | 33 ratings

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4 stars Prolific and ambitiously adventurous composer/musician Ivan Rozmainsky (of Roz Vitalis fame) is back with his new collective of virtuoso collaborators for a third album release since 2020. And it's a good one!

1. "Only One Road for the Wayward" (7:20) Ivan & co. here move more into the discordant world of avant jazz artists like JOHN ZORN and YUGEN. I think this one succeeds because of its slow, spacious pacing and "conscientious" note-making. (13.25/15)

2. "The Invasion of a Crying Shame" (3:53) starts off as if picking up where the first song left off, but then quickly becomes something different--a kind of middle school band practice session for the horn section. Interesting for how loose and sloppy the timing is for the instrumentalists engaging in the weave. (Yes, I can tell it's done intentionally.) The grating electric guitar injected into the final quarter is surprising and a little off-putting. It's as if a 2:00 AM jam of rather tired and, probably, drunk musicians is being recorded. Not quite sure of the reason or motivation for this song to be included on a publicly-released album. (8.5/10)

3. "Black Sky White" (5:25) there's a bit of a Celtic or even Acadian folk feel to this one. (It reminds me very much of the music from the QuÚbecois band, CONVENTUM's 1979 album, Le bureau central des utopies.) I like it for the predominance of acoustic instrumentation. Very nice finish. A top three song for me. (9.25/10)

4. "I Need You to Help" (5:50) built around weave of comparatively sappy melodies, Serghei Liubcenco's choice for guitar sound once again mystifies me: like using a kitchen appliance, he can sure make some noise! The scaled down interlude in the middle reminds me of MASSIVE ATTACK's "Teardrop" but then we move into Asian-infused, cheesy drum-machine-led, mediŠval weave while the wildest collection of disparate instruments somehow move forward together, as a rag-tag ensemble. Adventurous and laughable yet admirable! My final top three song. (9/10)

5. "Narrow Is the Road" (5:14) again Ivan & company bring together an ensemble of classical and jazz instruments to create a pathway that is somehow moving forward while taking turns giving up the leadership position, this causing some uncertain movement and moment--this despite the definitive title. Perhaps the road is old, less traveled, and poorly maintained. Anyway, against all odds, the band somehow pulls it together for the final quarter of the song to reveal some beautiful teamwork. The weave then turns to avant chamber jazz sounding quite similar to the work of Belarusian bands Rational Diet, Five-Storey Ensemble, and Archestra. Here are some quite lovely "traveling" melodies conveyed in the second half of the song. This is certainly one post-apocalyptic (or pre-industrial) band of road travelers that I would enjoy being with or encountering. My favorite song on the album. (9.5/10)

6. "In Things Too High for Me" (8:40) the solo kalimba in this song's opening does not fool me for a minute. The music quickly shifts into an electrically-founded trapse of troubadours--which occasionally turns space alien (minute #2) and Asian (minute #3). This one sounds as if it could come from some of DAVE NEWHOUSE's zany collaborations--the Moon Men or Moon X projects. In the final third the structure becomes tight, organized, almost classical, this despite the odd mix of instruments. It's a very Paolo "SKE" Botta-like sound. Not my favorite piece but interesting. (17/20)

7. "Looking from the Dome" (5:37) concertina/organ and rock electric guitar open this one before winds and cymbals join in to create a near-klezmer weave. Banjo and strings join before wah-ed guitar takes the lead. the percussion-driven rhythm and pacing remind me very much of parts of MIKE OLDFIELD's 1979 masterpiece of four "Incantations." The final stripped down minute feels more African tribal with they now-typical odd assortment of collaborating instruments. (8.75/10)

8. "Kramatorsk" (14:32) violin announces the Russian melody theme before low winds take over. Then drums This could very much be a piece by Markus Pajakkala's UTOPIANISTI--except for the fact that it doesn't change, progress, shift, or develop as dynamically as Markus' compositions. This one drags on--rather like a New Orleans funeral procession. The addtion of heavily distorted guitar strumming in the second half does little to enhance the (lack of) interesting or pleasurable development of the song. The Psycho-like violin (and, later, synthesizer) screams in the eleventh minute are surprising and, once again, do little to enhance the likeability of the song (except if you're a lover of King Crimson or Art Zoyd at their most angular/dissonant). Again, I know not the intent or message the band was trying to convey here, but it is one that is, unfortunately, totally lost to me. I understand and appreciate the adventurousness, skill, and vision it takes to compose and perform something like this, it's just not my cup of tea. (25/30)

9. "Road" (3:42) this sounds like a cute little Baroque chamber piece--something being performed for a small private audience or as background music for a museum opening. (8.5/10)

Total Time 60:13

With this album I think Ivan and his intrepid collaborators have put together their finest effort. The sound engineering and production is excellent with great clarity of each and every single instrument. My favorite selections on the album are, of course, the more chamber-oriented pieces dominated by acoustic instruments and mediŠval-like folk sounds and weaves.

B/four stars; an excellent addition to any lover of truly adventurous progressive rock music.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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