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4 stars An excellent EP released by Russian indie/art rock band iamthemorning showcases how improved (if not 'perfected', counting the fact that they already have been pretty much close to perfection) were the musicians' skillz since their debut work, ~, giving a slight wiev on what's going to be on their much awaited second LP, as well as showing some nice alternative versions of tracks from their debut LP.

'Miscellany' EP consists of seven tracks, with four of them were newly recorded in the studio, two unplugged versions, which were recorded live in London at July 2013, and a new mix of 'touching', one of the brightest highlights of their debut recording.

All new stuff is virtually follows the mellow and heartfelt style of their previous work, although some notable differences in sound are very audible. Live interpretation of 'scotland' lacks the loud part, which was heavily reworked, and, instead of it, we're getting a nice alternative version, a very quiet an beautiful one. 'touching' remix sounds much cleaner than on their debut LP, giving a more airy feel into it.

Overall, 'airy' is probably the right word to describe this EP. It's soft, beautiful and atmospheric on all counts. Very emotional, with extremelly subtle, almost ethereal ambience and medlodies. Even more airy and more subtle than ~.

8.5/10. Looking forward the second LP very much.

Report this review (#1100278)
Posted Thursday, December 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Still in the process of assembling their second studio release, independent Russian group iamthemorning decided to release Miscellany, a short EP that will give fans something to listen to as they wait for the new album. As the title suggests, Miscellany consists of a handful of miscellaneous tracks with both some new material as well as some different versions of pieces found on the band's debut album, ~. While this EP may appeal mostly to fans of the band who are waiting for their upcoming second album, it is still a great release and a quality preview of things to come.

The first song on the EP, 'To Human Misery (Chamber Version)', is a beautiful and emotional new piece of music. The group's trademark classical instrumentation and ethereal sound are both present here and make for a song that that ranks among my favourite of the band's work thus far. iamthemorning have mentioned that a heavier version of this song will make its way onto the next album, and it will be interesting to see how it compares to this amazing chamber version.

This new track is followed by 'The Simple Story', another new song and the only one that will be found both on Miscellany and the band's next album in the same version. While definitely recalling the music on ~ to some extent, this song remains fresh and unique and is an excellent addition to the band's catalogue. An unplugged version of the same song also appears on the EP, and although it's not really necessary, it is nice to have an alternate version.

In fact, alternate versions will take up a good chunk of this short EP, with an unplugged rendition of 'Scotland' and a new mixing of the song 'Touching' both being found here. As they are both songs that were originally found on ~, these will be appealing for fans of the band who are looking for any different material they can get, but ultimately are not quite different enough to be essential or terribly interesting.

In addition to the aforementioned songs, the EP also contains a couple of new 'Intermissions' in the same vein as those found on iamthemorning's first record. These interludes are pretty and enjoyable, and while they are not substantial enough to significantly impact the quality of the EP, they really do add to the atmosphere of the release.

I will quickly add that the musicians really bring all of these compositions to life with sophisticated arrangements and professional playing. The pianist and the vocalist really stand out on this release, although each instrumentalist offers quality playing.

Overall, Miscellany offers a brief but pleasant musical experience that will be a treat for any fan of iamthemorning's first record. While this EP does not contain enough new material to warrant a five star rating, it is certainly more than enough to whet your appetite for the band's upcoming sophomore album. And if the new songs on this album are any indication of the quality of material to come, then the new album will be well worth the wait.

Report this review (#1100865)
Posted Friday, December 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
4 stars Watch closely. I am really tempted to slap a really high rating on this new EP from the always amazing Russian band iamthemorning. I don't care if this EP, "Miscellany", only has two new songs. I don't care if this EP was an afterthought of sorts. What I do care about is the fact that this short EP is chock full of beautiful melodies, amazing vocals, and excellent musicianship. That, my friends, is what draws me to this band time and time again.

First of all, if you don't know who iamthemorning is, you should rectify that immediately. This two-piece band plays a refreshing form of chamber rock. Well, if you want to call it "rock". It's basically progressive music of some type mixed with neoclassical influences and a distinct artistic personality. It's light, fresh, stunningly beautiful, and thick with artistic integrity.

Now, "Miscellany" is an EP released by the band to tide us over until the launch of their imminent second album. Like I said, it features two new songs and some live and alternative tracks. First of all, the new tracks are amazing. "To Human Misery" is incredibly emotional and even hopeful. It shows iamthemorning at their best, honestly. The next track is "The Simple Story", another emotional track that features Gavin Harrison on some rather unique drums. These two tracks are surprisingly addictive and simply powerful.

The remainder of the tracks are either live or alternate versions, most of them from the first album. This is NOT a bad thing, especially if you don't own their first album. All of these songs are interesting and I even find that this London version of "Touching II" is the best version yet. That means a lot because I believe it to be their best song. Every single track on this EP is worthwhile, both for your time and your money. So, even though I cannot give this EP the highest honors, it still is very, very strong and promises an amazing sophomore album from my favorite Russian band.

Report this review (#1117042)
Posted Monday, January 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Gleb and Marjana are currently working on the second album, but to prevent fans from having to wait too long they released this EP at the beginning of 2014 that contains some new songs, along with reworked versions of songs on the first album. Yet again I am struck by the quality of their performances, and is also worth commenting on the arrangements as they seem to intuitively know what they need on each song to maximize the potential, So there may be a few drums here, or additional keyboards, or strings, but always at the very heart of this is delicate piano and fragile vocals that draw the listener in to a wonderful world. Kate Bush mixed with Enya, with control and passion and never ever falling into New Age.

It is incredible to think that these guys are virtually unknown outside of a fairly small circle, as in many ways they are on of prog's best kept secrets which is just criminal as music as controlled and beautiful as this really does deserve to be heard by a much wider audience. I found myself enthralled with this EP, the production is superb, and I was drawn into a world of their making each time I listened to it. These guys are one of the best bands I have come across this year, with consistent high quality and a majestic presence that really belies what they are doing with the fragile and delicate music. Surely it can only be a matter of time before these guys get picked up by a major as this is a rare beauty indeed.

Report this review (#1218756)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.1 Stars. A great taster to the upcoming album.

Miscellany was created during the recording sessions in London while making their second album which will be released in Sept 2014. Due to the long time it took to produce the album the band chose to release this EP as a treat to those fans who had funded them via kick-starter (myself included). This release contains a mixture of tracks from the upcoming album Belighted, alternative versions of new and older songs and one b-side.

The first song on this EP is "to human misery" which is an alternative chamber version to the song that will appear on the new album. Its a incredibly beautiful and catchy song and is my favorite on the EP. Unlike some of the other pretty songs on ~ its instantly accessible and yet does not fall into the trap of simplification. If their other quiet songs are like this then I am going to in for a real treat! I am looking forward to hearing the album version which apparently is much heavier.

"the simple story" and "intermission XII" are both directly taken from the new album. The former is a mid tempo rock song with some strong hooks that the band excel in doing. They have done stronger songs of this type however this song was meant to be a radio friendly single (it has its own music video). So as singles go its a strong track with lasting appeal unlike most poppier songs. The latter is a short neo-classical piece in the exact same vein as the intermissions on their debut album. Unlike the other pieces this one has several sections in it and has a darker atmosphere. It strongly reminds me of the shorter songs Steven Wilson used on Grace for Drowning. Hopefully they will be thinking on the same lines and use this song as a bridge to other songs with the same mood.

"scotland (unplugged)" is a interesting version of the original song. The first part of the song is mostly the same as the original while the second (which used to be quite rough and heavy) uses a lot of distortion and intense orchestra to make the listener disorientated and drawn into their world. Its certainly a highlight of the EP and as strong as the original (which was one of my favorite songs on ~).

"touching II (london mix)" is close to identical to the original song so its not worth talking about. "intermission VIII" is only available on this EP. Its a quiet piece and not as strong as the other classical songs, but it does make for a pleasant closer.

I tend to give EP's like this 3 stars because they are clearly not essential when compared to the rest of their releases. However while some of the songs here are not very special the flow from song to song on this EP is fantastic. This makes the songs so much more satisfying to listen to. So I will give this a extra star and recommend it to all casual fans (but get their debut first). I really hope the new album is up to the standard of this EP and ~, if it is then these guys will become stars in the prog world. And with them now signed up to Kscope perhaps the wider rock and classical world as well. Watch this space.

Report this review (#1254493)
Posted Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Russian duo IAMTHEMORNING was formed back in 2010, and with their debut album ~ (tilde) they fairly quickly grabbed the attention of a fairly broad audience also outside of their native Russia. This self-released digital production was released in physical format the following year, and the buzz around this band continued to grow.

In the summer of 2013 they managed to raise the funds a recording trip to London, and while awaiting the new album many was rather keenly expecting following this, the band decided to release an EP for the eager fans awaiting new material. Since then iamthemorning have been picked up by prestigious UK label Kscope and released their second album to critical acclaim, but this EP is one that merits a check and a purchase by fans old and new alike as well I'd think.

On might claim that this just over 20 minutes long EP doesn't offer a whole lot, but that depends on what you're looking for. There's not all that much material exclusive to this production as such, but there are alternate version s of old and new material to enjoy here that might just reveal some additional sides to the qualities of this duo.

Vocalist Marjana has a magnificent voice, with comparisons that can be made towards vocalists such as Kate Bush, Tori Amos and, at least for me as a Norwegian, Anneli Drecker, and in the sparse piano and vocals version of Scotland her qualities as a singer really shines brightly, as does the talent of her companion Gleb on the piano. The manner in which intensity is increased on this song is just impressively well done.

While other of the alternative versions might not be quite as stunning all of them are beautiful experiences, melancholic, mournful and sad creations that are also stunningly beautiful, frail and powerful on an emotional level. Second song The Simple Story is the clear highlight however, with bass, drums and some guitars fleshing out the soundscapes and supporting the qualities of Gleb and Marjana in an impressive manner.

One might describe iamthemorning as chamber folk, art pop or progressive pop music, and other options may also apply. The basis of this project are stunning, female lead vocals and excellent supporting piano though, with a certain emphasis on melancholic and mournful atmospheres, and of that sounds like material that might be of interest then iamthemorning is a band to take not of, if you haven't already done so. A band that should have a very bright future ahead of them, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if this duo could become full time musicians making a good living from their music within a relatively short period of time.

Report this review (#1315280)
Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Between the first two albums, Iamthemorning released this EP containing a couple of tracks from the incoming album "Belighted" and the rest from their excellent debut. Probably it was a way to "taste the public reactions" before releasing the album. Nothing to say about Marjana and Gleb, having less or more instrumentists, arranging the songs in a way or another doesn't impact on the great vocals and the fantastic skill of Gleb as pianist and composer.

Comparing the EP versions with the "official ones" doesn't make justice to them, as most of the EP is unplugged. Despite being unplugged, anyway, there is a number of guest musicians as usual, and PORCUPINE TREE's drummer Gavin Harrison playing on "The Simple Story" represents the beginning of a collaboration that will bring the duo to record their third album "Lighthouse" in the UK.

The songs don't suffer for being unplugged, and I have to say that the piano performance can be better appreciated. As a true musician, Gleb Kolyadin sometimes sacrifices the piano when the songs are arranged for a complete band, but in the unplugged versions the importance of the piano is restored.

So it's an interesting EP for who already follows the band. Now that some years are passed and more albums have seen the light, the original purpose of the EP has lost its sense, but it remains an excellent "unplugged".

Report this review (#2266114)
Posted Friday, October 4, 2019 | Review Permalink

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