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Iamthemorning: Belighted

Album Review

St Petersburg duo cast a shining light on Russian prog.

By building a roster beautifully balanced between the classic and the new, Kscope have done wonders for the prog revival.

Their latest signing, Russian duo iamthemorning, not only look like a smart addition, but also add to the claim that the creative lodestone of prog is shifting towards the east. Indeed, when the likes of Anathema’s Dan Cavanagh claims that iamthemorning possess ‘the single greatest pianist I’ve met in my life’ we should all sit up and take notice.

Gleb Kolyadin’s serpentine keyboard licks are certainly outstanding. The introduction to Os Lunatum fuses the repetitions of Phillip Glass and the smoothness of Einaudi. Yet, Kolyadin is no mere traditional tinkler. Opener Intermission IX pulls his keys work through all sorts of spacey loops. A particular shout out must also be made for his work on Intermission XI which echoes Georges Auric’s sensationally disconcerting music for horror film Dead Of Night.

Kolyadin’s skills as keyboardist, arranger of strings and all-round musical maestro are beyond question. Not only has he brought in musicians of the quality of Porcupine Tree’s drummer Gavin Harrison, but his classical training ensures that even a simple ballad like Gerda includes unexpected interplay between strings, drums and (yes!) xylophone.

However, it’s vocalist Marjana Semkina who is a revelation. While at one level, she appears to have come off the familiar Mitteleuropean production line of soaring super-lungs, she also possesses a Kate Bush-like quirkiness. If she’s utterly at home on alt rock bombast like The Howler, it’s on 54 – reminiscent of Never For Ever era Bush – that Semkina’s supple vox shines. Equally, as the harp swirls on the stand-out, Crowded Corridors, Semkina sings _‘Voices surround me, this is not a fantasy’ _with a beguiling vulnerability. She has one hell of a future.

Belighted is conceived as much around the gaps or lulls in life’s journey as its peaks and troughs. The lyric-less ‘intermissions’ employ a range of styles – jazz, cello prelude, movie soundtrack – to allow pause before the next slab of clever prog invention. If East European prog is sometimes let down by unconvincing lyrics, Semkina and Kolyadin demonstrate a bit of flair. When Semkina sings, ‘Walk through the light and further on, forever after all,’ on the anthemic reprise of Light No Light, you can almost believe she’s stepping into the afterlife herself.

As the album title suggests, there’s a lot of light in this offering, and fans of Porcupine Tree, Panic Room and ambitious prog in general should be grabbing a copy.

TeamRock+

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