IAMTHEMORNING ANNOUNCE SPECIAL LIVE STREAMED PERFORMANCE ‘LIVE FROM THE FOREST’

Following the success of their most recent studio album ‘The Bell’ in 2019, chamber progressive duo Iamthemorning released new EP ‘Counting The Ghosts’ in December last year. 2021 has seen the duo of Marjana Semkina and Gleb Kolyadin quietly working away on their as yet untitled new album but they are set to end this year with a one off special live streamed show.

‘Live From The Forest’ which takes place on 26th November at 8pm is an intimate pre-recorded performance, which sees Iamthemorning playing together for the first time in months. The show will be followed by a zoom call for ticket holders straight after with the band. Marjana comments,

“We really miss live shows and our dear audience so while we’re unable to play live and are both so busy with our own separate projects we thought of the nice way of reconnecting with our listeners. 

It’s not just a streaming gig (and we put a lot of effort into making it look pretty!) – it’s the zoom hangout after!  Bring drinks and all your questions and we’ll be happy to answer all of them on a live call and drink to human misery and to being able to finally start touring again.

This stream had to be pre-recorded because we live in two different countries so setting things up was pretty much impossible due to logistical problems. Then I found out I could come visit at the very last moment so we didn’t have time to organise an actual live stream so this shoot was put together in a day.

This is a very much a one take show. We wanted to keep as real to a real live show experience as possible.”

The performance will be available to view via Munin Live from 8pm and will be online for 60 hours. Tickets are on sale now – https://watch.munin.live/products/iamthemorning-live-from-the-forest

The set list will feature songs from all Iamthemorning’s albums, with some that they have only played once or twice before. Marjana adds, 

“The performance was quite improvised at times, because in the duo setting our material can be quite fluid and driven by the mood at the time. The video was shot and put together by our regular collaborator Eggor Kree and the sound mixed by Vlad Avy.”

While this year didn’t bring any new music from Iamthemorning, both Marjana and Gleb released solo records. Gleb’s new album ‘Water Movements’ was released back in March followed by Marjana’s latest EP ‘Disillusioned’ in October under the name Mariana Semkina.

Expect more news on Iamthemorning’s new album in 2022.

MARIANA SEMKINA SHARES VIDEO FOR ‘FRIEND”, NEW ‘DISILLUSIONED’ EP RELEASED 1ST OCTOBER

Following her 2020 debut solo album,‘Sleepwalking’, Iamthemorning vocalist Mariana Semkina recently announced details on her new EP ‘Disillusioned’ set for release on 1st October. Combining dark folk with elements of electronica, ‘Disillusioned’ continues the evolution of Mariana as a solo artist. Today Mariana have shared the haunting new video for ‘Friend’ She comments,

Friend is quite a personal one but then again all songs that I write for my solo project end up being this way. It’s a song about human cruelty and how unfair people can be – it tells a story of a personal loss, violation of trust and betrayal. Of a feeling you have when a connection you thought was meaningful and profound turns out to be something fake and shallow. 

The music video was directed by myself and Eggor Kree, the long term collaborator of iamthemorning. It features the two wonderful actors from St Petersburg theatre Masterskaya, Kristina Kutsa (that was also acting in Everything Burns video last year) and Ricardo Marin-Vidal. The filming process took almost 18 hours because it was filmed in July when St Petersburg was in a terrible heatwave so for better picture and lighting conditions we were forced to shoot in the brief hours before sunset and then before sunrise, and we had to wait out the darkest part of the night in the middle of the forest. The location was quite remarkable too, it’s a place from quite a few pantings by famous Russian painter Ivan Shishkin called Ship Grove (Korabelnaya Rosha).”

Watch the video now:

The ‘Disillusioned’ EP features 5 tracks comprised of 3 original new songs alongside 2 covers sung in Icelandic and Hungarian, in which multiple layers of Mariana’s vocals combine with ambient electronica to create an ethereal choir like effect. 

Lyrically the songs on the EP were inspired by the poets of the Victorian era such as William Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal and Christina Rossetti most of all. Characterised by her composed and unique voice and complex melodic lines, ‘Disillusioned’ will appeal to fans of Mariana’s previous solo work as well as her band Iamthemorning but those who enjoy the music by the likes of Thom Yorke, Nine Inch Nails, Sufjan Stevens and The Cinematic Orchestra will resonate with the more ambient and electronica moments here.

The EP was recorded remotely across the UK, Canada and Russia with regular collaborators, producer and guitarist Vlad Avy, alongside Grigory Losenkov who played piano, synths, bass and created the beautiful string arrangements. Drums on ‘Disillusioned’ were played by Svetlana Shumkova who also performed on Iamthemorning’s album ’The Bell’.

While self released on 1st October the EP will be available earlier to members of Mariana’s Pateron community who supported the creation and production of last year’s debut album. 

Pre-order the ‘Dissolutioned’ EP now – https://marianasemkina.bandcamp.com
Join Mariana’s Patreon community – https://www.patreon.com/marjanasemkina/

MARIANA SEMKINA RETURNS WITH NEW ‘DISILLUSIONED’ EP

Following her 2020 debut solo album,‘Sleepwalking’, Iamthemorning vocalist Mariana Semkina returns with her new EP ‘Disillusioned’ set for release on 1st October. Combining dark folk with elements of electronica, ‘Disillusioned’ continues the evolution of Mariana as a solo artist.

Originally from St. Petersburg but now based in the UK, she spent a long period of the pandemic unable to write any new music, commenting, “I was unable to write a line – probably because I flew to Russia for a week and got stuck there when borders shut for half a year due to lockdown, which led to quite a bad depression – but after relocating back to the UK I got my second breath, got out of depression and got back to music.” 

The ‘Disillusioned’ EP features 5 tracks comprised of 3 original new songs alongside 2 covers sung in Icelandic and Hungarian, in which multiple layers of Mariana’s vocals combine with ambient electronica to create an ethereal choir like effect. Mariana states,

“The two choir pieces I chose to include are a homage to the two places i’ve visited many times and love going to – Iceland and Hungary. I have huge respect for different languages so I payed a lot of attention in getting everything done right, after all if you grow up learning a foreign language if gives you different attitude to such things. 
Each language is special and works differently and beautifully with music. History holds so many beautiful musical pieces so i plan to continue my research of European languages and musical heritage. There is a czech proverb that says “learn a new language and get a new soul” and I certainly feel this way – you get to know yourself better when speaking different languages and it’s an amazing experience.”

Lyrically the songs on the EP were inspired by the poets of the Victorian era such as William Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal and Christina Rossetti most of all. Characterised by her composed and unique voice and complex melodic lines, ‘Disillusioned’ will appeal to fans of Mariana’s previous solo work as well as her band Iamthemorning but those who enjoy the music by the likes of Thom Yorke, Nine Inch Nails, Sufjan Stevens and The Cinematic Orchestra will resonate with the more ambient and electronica moments here.

The title ‘Disillusioned’ is partly a reflection of Mariana’s state of mind while writing the EP alongside a desire to have more control over her own work. This has led to her decision to self-release the EP having previously released her debut on Kscope adding, “having full control over your creations is quite precious and beautiful so i will enjoy it while i have energy to do absolutely everything myself to bring my projects to life. It’s a lot of work and a lot of responsibility but neither one scares me, i’m used to both.”

The EP was recorded remotely across the UK, Canada and Russia with regular collaborators, producer and guitarist Vlad Avy, alongside Grigory Losenkov who played piano, synths, bass and created the beautiful string arrangements. Drums on ‘Disillusioned’ were played by Svetlana Shumkova who also performed on Iamthemorning’s album ’The Bell’.

While self released on 1st October the EP will be available earlier to members of Mariana’s Pateron community who supported the creation and production of last year’s debut album. Mariana concludes, 

“This release as with everything i’ve been doing for the last two years was supported by my wonderful Patreon community. Having Patreon is a very strong motivation to keep me going because i know i’ll always have people to back me up, and they’re always the first ones to hear about any plans or get copies of everything I do so now i decided to use the fact that i’m self-releasing this to set a double release date, 17th September being the official Patreon release date, when all of my Patrons will get their digital copy of the album as a sign of gratitude for their support and some of them will get CDs and merch bundles.”

Pre-order the ‘Dissolutioned’ EP now – https://marianasemkina.bandcamp.com
Join Mariana’s Patreon community – https://www.patreon.com/marjanasemkina/

IAMTHEMORNING SHARE VIDEO FOR ‘VENI VENI EMMANUEL’

NEW EP ‘COUNTING THE GHOSTS’ OUT NOW

Iamthemorning have shared the new video for ‘Veni Veni Emmanuel’ taken from their new EP ‘Counting The Ghosts’ which is released today. Marjana from the band comments,

‘Veni Veni Emmanuel is a 12 century hymn sung in latin – the English translation exists and is somewhat more popular but I thought the Latin version will be more in line with our general style. It was arranged for 5 voices by Gleb and the arrangement is inspired by the works of Benjamin Britten. It’s kind of a timeline of music where each verse is associated with a specific time. It starts as a monody then proceeds to medieval style, then to classical european harmony and ends in 20th century.

I wish we could make a video that would do this beautiful song and arrangement justice but i guess right now in the times of pandemic when everyone’s in lockdown all is left is to “Arrange whatever pieces come your way”, which I did.’

Self released by the band to raise money to record their new album and consisting of 4 tracks, ‘Counting The Ghosts’ features 2 new original songs,’Cradle Song’ and ‘Counting The Ghosts’.

The other tracks on the EP see Iamthemorning adding their own twist to two traditional festive songs, ‘Veni Veni Emmanuel’ and the more modern piece ‘I Wonder As I Wander’.

Order the EP  – https://iamthemorningband.bandcamp.com

IAMTHEMORNING SINGER-SONGWRITER – MARJANA SEMKINA PREMIERES NEW TRACK & VIDEO FOR “EVERYTHING BURNS”

TAKEN FROM HER DEBUT SOLO ALBUM – SLEEPWALKING  
(KSCOPE – 14TH FEBRUARY 2020)

With Marjana Semkina,Iamthemorning’s lyricist, singer and co-songwriter, set to release her spellbinding debut solo album, Sleepwalking on 14th February 2020 through Kscope, she has premiered the video for the track “Everything Burns”.

“The song ‘Everything Burns’ focuses on the demons that you take with you no matter how far you try to go; the fact is you just can’t run away from them. No matter how hard you try to change everything around you, they will stay with you unless you realise that the most important change, the one that is by far the hardest to achieve – the one that happens inside of you” Semkina explains the meaning behind the song. 

She continues by reflecting on how the clip, produced together with the long term collaborator of iamthemorning Eggor Kree, refences this side of the struggle “these toxic situations that we find ourselves trapped in seemingly, with no escape, you just have to find strength within yourself to put an end to it, even if this means you have to destroy something familiar & precious that you’ve been building for a while . Stepping into the unknown can be scary, but sometimes it’s (metaphorically) necessary to burn everything to the ground and start anew and work very hard to not fall into the same old patterns in this new life of yours.”

Sleepwalkingis available to PRE-ORDER HEREon CD / LP and digitally (with “Everything Burns” available as an instant download on digital pre-orders). Note to fans – Sleepwalking will be released under an alternative spelling – Mariana Semkina.

Sleepwalking will be available on CD / LP and digitally and is available to PRE-ORDER HERE

Sleepwalking tracklisting 

1. Dark Matter [03:12] 

2. Am I Sleeping Or Am I Dead [04:27] 

3. Turn Back Time [04:06] 

4. Ars Longa Vita Brevis [03:03] 

5. Invisible [03:07] 

6. Lost At Sea [04:59] 

7. Skin [04:52] 

8. How To Be Alone [02:50] 

9. Everything Burns [03:14] 

10. Mermaid Song [04:32] 

11. Still Life [04:08] 

Marjana Semkina is currently performing as Iamthemorning in support to The Flower Kings, in promotion of the band’s recent album The Bell.
10/12 – Columbia Theater, Berlin, Germany11/12 – Amager Bio, Copenhagen, Denmark12/12 – Brewhouse, Gothenburg, Sweden14/12 –  Kraken, Stockholm, Sweden 

AWARD-WINNING IAMTHEMORNING SINGER-SONGWRITER – MARJANA SEMKINA RELEASES HER DEBUT SOLO ALBUM SLEEPWALKING

Following the success of four highly praised albums with Iamthemorning, the lyricist, singer and co-songwriter Marjana Semkina releases her spellbinding debut solo album, Sleepwalking on 14th February 2020 through Kscope. The album will be released under an alternative spelling – Mariana Semkina.

Characterised by her composed and unique voice, complex melodic lines and poetic lyrics with literary references, Semkina has often compared favourably with Kate Bush. The new material draws from the Iamthemorning soundscape but exists fully in Marjana’s world; a compelling mixture of alternative folk, pop, drama, beauty and emotionally purging lyrics. 

Marjana explains the motivation behind releasing a solo album “It wasn’t my plan to ascribe any profound meaning or concept to creating Sleepwalking, it’s purpose was more personally therapeutic, it was supposed just to help me get through some dark times, and at the end of that period in my life I found myself, not only renewed but with a collection of songs that were too personal to release under any other name other than my own.”

She continues “I wanted to use Sleepwalking as a way to translate emotions in the most sincere and unrefined way. No sugarcoating, no filters, just creative, honest thought caught in the moment. Turning those dark times and feelings into pure creative energy, something beautiful, something that has purpose”

Sleepwalking is a musical blend akin to the darker folk of Aldous Harding, Marissa Nadler, Sumie and Florist. To aid her vision for Sleepwalking, Marjana invited renowned keyboardist, drummer and bassist Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Craig Blundell and Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson), as well as the St. Petersburg Orchestra “1703” and frequent collaborator Vlad Avy.

Marjana is teasing fans with a glimpse into what to expect with this trailer featuring four songs from Sleepwalking – “Am I Sleeping Or Am I Dead”, “Invisible”, “Turn Back Time”, “Mermaid Song” and “Still Life”. WATCH & LISTEN HERE

The stunning album artwork makes reference to Semkina’s love for classical art, unifying photography with the 17th-Century Vanitas movement; “I am a big lover of classical art, and with this cover I wanted to create some sort of a unity between medium of photography and the Vanitas  art movement, a genre of still life painting. The paintings of the genre usually contain collections of objects symbolic of the inevitability of death and the transience and vanity of earthly achievements and pleasures; it exhorts the viewer to consider mortality, which is extremely close to where this album came from.”

Sleepwalking will be available on CD / LP and digitally and is available to PRE-ORDER HERE

Sleepwalking tracklisting 

1. Dark Matter [03:12] 

2. Am I Sleeping Or Am I Dead [04:27] 

3. Turn Back Time [04:06] 

4. Ars Longa Vita Brevis [03:03] 

5. Invisible [03:07] 

6. Lost At Sea [04:59] 

7. Skin [04:52] 

8. How To Be Alone [02:50] 

9. Everything Burns [03:14] 

10. Mermaid Song [04:32] 

11. Still Life [04:08] 

Marjana Semkina will be performing as Iamthemorning in support to The Flower Kings in December, in promotion of the band’s recent album The Bell.

01/12 – Bahnhof Pauli, Hamburg, Germany

02/12– Musik Zentrum, Hannover, Germany

03/12 – OK Andaluzia, Piekary Slaskie, Poland

04/12 – Klub U Bazyla, Poznan, Poland

06/12 – Burgerweeshuis, Deventer, Netherlands

07/12 – De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands

08/12 – Scala, London, UK

09/12 – Piano, Dortmund, Germany

10/12 – Columbia Theater, Berlin, Germany

11/12 – Amager Bio, Copenhagen, Denmark

12/12 – Brewhouse, Gothenburg, Sweden

14/12 –  Kraken, Stockholm, Sweden


10 YEARS OF KSCOPE AT THE UNION CHAPEL ON 2nd October 2018

ANATHEMA TO HEADLINE CELEBRATORY RECORD LABEL EVENT IN LONDON WITH PAUL DRAPER, IAMTHEMORNING AND GLEB KOLYADIN

We are incredibly excited and proud to be celebrating our first decade as a record label. These past 10 years have allowed us to share and promote our favourite music, which has evolved over multiple genres whilst remaining fiercely adventurous. We kick-off the year’s revelries with an intimate acoustic show in our hometown, London, at the unique and iconic Union Chapel.

Our story began in May 2008 with the partnership between Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness as No-Man and their beautiful, haunting and cinematic album Schoolyard Ghosts. The label’s sound has since been constantly evolving through some truly brilliant and emotively powerful early projects from the likes of Anathema, Porcupine Tree, Engineers, Richard Barbieri, Gazpacho, Nordic Giants, Nosound and The Pineapple Thief, as well as Steven Wilson’s solo material and collaboration with Aviv Geffen as Blackfield.

In recent years the roster has grown to include a broader selection of talent, from the soaring dynamics of TesseracT, to the revenge-pop from The Anchoress, from the heart-breaking catharsis from Lunatic Soul to the electronica legacy of the great Tangerine Dream.

Shaping up to be a year full of celebrations, our first offering is the 10 Years of Kscope event, for which we’ve lined up a treat for guests with special acoustic performances from Anathema, Paul Draper, Iamthemorning and Gleb Kolyadin. This will undoubtedly be a night to remember for music lovers, and may even feature a few surprises…

TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE FROM – DICE & UNION CHAPEL

LINE-UP

Anathema, following the release of 2017’s The Optimist, continually evolved by placing hope in the future – from leaving the underground scene they were fundamental in establishing to continually mesmerising the world with stargazing post-progressive alternative rock that knows no borders.

“Welcome to a new Anathema experience: Ambient Acoustic.

In exploring what we might do to expand the music still further, out of thin air came the idea to arrange music in a ‘third way’, in the space between the acoustic band and the live rock band..

With ‘ambient acoustic’ we feel more free to explore many textures, mixing live loops, piano, strings, percussion, electronics, guitars and voices, all within the essence of the songs and the emotions they carry.

We hope you enjoy this next chapter of the story, the journey of discovery, of searching for something that can never really be found.

Much love, Daniel Cavanagh”

Anathema will be performing additional dates as part of their Ambient Acoustic tour in France, the Netherlands and the UK. For full details, see their website.

Learn more about Anathema via their artist page.

Paul Draper, one of British rock’s most singular and distinctive voices of the iconic 90s band Mansun, has returned with a top-20 debut solo album Spooky Action (“A properly fantastic album, ★★★★★ Record Collector).

Talking about the show, Paul told us he is “delighted and proud to be playing for my label Kscope at their upcoming 10th Anniversary show. It’s been such an exciting and productive time working with the Kscope team since I signed with them, so genuinely looking forward to playing a few tunes and celebrate with the Kscope family at the Union Chapel”

Learn more via Paul’s artist page.

Iamthemorning, the progressive chamber duo, Gleb Kolyadin and Marjana Semkina, formed in St. Petersburg and have released two albums of rich and eclectic music on Kscope, Belighted and Lighthouse, that showcase their brilliance as pianist and vocalist. Their latest studio film and soundtrack, Ocean Sounds, is due for release mid-October.

Gleb recently released his self-titled debut solo album, featuring an array of impressive guest performers, to high praise including a 4 ½ star review from All About Jazz, who said it finds the magical chemistry to weave everything into a dazzling ride with the smarts of Robert Fripp and the badassery of Beethoven. The spirit of Keith Emerson is probably pumping his fist in delight at seeing such inspired wizardry to carry on the tradition, and who knows, Franz Lizst may be cheering just as loud.

The pair told us how they felt when asked to perform at the event

Gleb: “For me, London was always a place where all important things happen. And this fall I will be very happy to be on this very special event in a wonderful place with great people and present a few piano passages from my solo album. Very exciting and looking forward to October.”

Marjana: “The first time we met Kscope team was on “5 years of Kscope” festival. It was our first time in London and back then no one knew who we were. It’s amazing how things can change if you work hard enough, and it’s our greatest pleasure to be performing an exclusive chamber set in a wonderful Union Chapel (which was always my dream venue) as a part of the label. We both are very pleased to be invited and are very much looking forward to this wonderful evening.”

Iamthemorning artist page.

Gleb Kolyadin artist page.

Follow Kscope online @kscopemusic and at kscopemusic.com

IAMTHEMORNING & KSCOPE RELEASE OCEAN SOUNDS ON 19TH OCTOBER

The new intimate studio film from the highly praised Russian duo recorded on a remote Norwegian island.

Following the success of two highly-praised albums on Kscope, Belighted and Lighthouse, Russian duo Gleb Kolyadin and Marjana Semkina are releasing a new studio film shot at and named after a remote recording studio on Giske, a Norwegian island. The footage offers a behind-the-scenes insight into the recording techniques of two of modern progressive music’s most talented composers. The content captures iamthemorning’s live set-up from the last three years, with the setlist consisting of songs from their first three studio albums and an unplugged recording of “Blue Sea”, the first track to be written for their upcoming fourth album and exclusive to this Blu-ray disc.

The studio was designed with panoramic windows that allow the stunning back-drop of Giske Island and the Norwegian Sea to be baked into the performances, a location that is featured in glorious high-definition on the Blu-ray. Marjana commented “It was the most inspiring place for us to work in, surrounded by the sea, mountains, wild flowers and gorgeous Norwegian sunsets. All of the natural splendour we don’t see that often.”

Ocean Sounds builds on the recent success of Kolyadin’s self-titled debut solo album on Kscope, which has been nominated as Album of the Year at the Progressive Music Awards ’18: an honour that Iamthemorning have already achieved with Lighthouse, and which is also backed by Semkina winning Female Vocalist of the Year in the 2016 Prog Magazine Reader’s poll. The pair’s live performances have included the likes of London’s Bush Hall, Ramblin’ Man Fair and the Netherland’s Midsummer Prog Festival.

The audio recording, mixing and mastering were handled by regular collaborator Vlad Avy, the film was produced and edited by Miles Skarin at Crystal Spotlight, and the watercolour artwork was designed by Constantine Nagishkin.

Ocean Sounds will be released as a 2 disc CD + Blu Ray set which includes the film and hi-res audio on Blu-ray; the audio on 180g LP; digitally and is available to pre-order HERE

2 disc CD (audio) + Blu Ray (video) / LP (audio)

1. Inside  [03:30]
2. Scotland 03:37]
3. To Human Misery  [04:05]
4. Romance [02:57]
5. 5/4  [03:12]
6. Touching II [03:53]
7. Os Lunatum  [03:49]
8. Matches  [03:53]
9. Sleeping Pills  [03:17]
10. Libretto Horror [02:04]
11. Chalk & Coal [04:06]
12. K. O. S.[05:51]
Bonus Track on Blu Ray disc only
13. Blue Sea [02:42]

Review – Echoes and Signals – Monodrama – by Progradar

As some of you well know I do like  a bit of instrumental progressive rock. I find that without the words, the music takes on more meaning and you can lose yourself in a myriad soundscapes where it is you, the listener, that creates the story in your own mind.

One of the excellent instrumental bands I have the pleasure to know is the Russian trio Echoes and Signals. The band, consisting of Fedor Kivokurtsev (guitar), Alexey Zaytsev (bass) and Yaroslav Egorov (drums), were formed  in 2012 in Tula, The Russian Federation, as an instrumental trio. They play music influenced mainly by post-rock and progressive rock elements.

Originally Echoes and Signals was formed just as an improvisation playground for the founding members, but then it turned into a real project. Their first 4-song EP album called ‘Comma’ was released in July, 2012 and was followed by ‘Ouroboros’ in October 2013 and then the band’s first full-length release ‘V’ in November of 2014.

(All live photos by Pavel Chesalin)

2017 sees the band return with their second long player called ‘Monodrama’. The concept of the album goes like this:

“The songs of ‘Monodrama‘ are dedicated to insights, memories, unresolved situations, inner dramas, fantasies, and dreams expressed through music. It’s a collection of soliloquies ‘spoken’ aloud in order to build self-knowledge and awareness; the different dots of our inner mind-map connected together are creating a brand new system and a brand new motion.
We all travel through time guided by the inner light — and realizing that the motion itself is much more important than the destination is the key.”

The new album also features a guest vocal appearance from Marjana Semkina of fellow Russian progsters iamthemorning on the only vocal track Lead Astray.

The album opens with the enigmatic Saltwater, a chilled, laid back number that lets you join the ride at an easy point with a great bass line and dynamic drumming. The guitar guides you around the imaginary land that your mind is already concocting and the tempo increases with some added urgency. Stylish and with a decided touch of class about them, Echoes and Signals have matured rather well since their last outing. Ocean has a real lightness of being to it’s composure from the very first note. There is a real deftness to the guitar note, a delicate step as each note progresses to the next. You can detect a fluidity to this song as it segues from each section to the next. Once again Alexey and Yaroslav provide a superb rhythm section over which Fedor can lay his excellent guitar lines and you just end up letting the music flow over and around you, serenity in musical form.

There’s more of that feel-good atmosphere throughout Station Horizon, a track with powerful dynamics but with a real upbeat tone running at the core. You feel as if you are on a fats paced journey with the band’s collective feet hard on the gas pedal. A joyous tumult of musical ideas that are never less than excellent but always have a smile on their faces (if they had faces obviously!). There are some great, tight & frenetic instrumental runs that add further to the enjoyable ride and I’m left with a big grin on my face. Bring the excellent voice of Marjana Semkina into the equation and things get more dramatic and emotional. Her soulful and touching vocal adds a really serious overtone to Lead Astray and the musical takes on a different feel, this time as a backing to Marjana rather than being the lead. It’s a subtle distinction but it’s definitely there and it produces a brilliant ying and yang of the elfin like qualities of the vocalist and the powerful dynamism of the band. It’s a mesmerising track that draws you in with some superb instrumental passages as well as the stirring vocals and gives pause to where the band see their future.

A short and thoughtful sci-fi tinged track, Farewell Centauri is quite melancholy  and nostalgic in feel and left me feeling somewhat wistful and reflective as it came to a close. Veins opens in a pressing and compelling manner, the edgy guitar, bass and drums having a skittish tone. It then opens up into a funky, acid jazz jam from outer space and I wouldn’t be suprised if this track was a load of fun to play live. The bass and guitar play off against each other and the drums drive everything along with an obsessive beat. Fedor throws in some fiery, emotive soloing to complete what is a very inventive piece of music.

Ethereal and haunting, like a musical daydream, Magnolia is just a beautiful track that feels like a modern classical piece. The guitar almost speaks to you with its plaintive and thoughtful timbre and the subdued drums and stylish bass just add real pathos and emotion. The song opens up into something more powerful but never loses that contemplation, almost questing for more and searching for answers. Skymap carries on with the thoughtful, challenging feel that pervades the whole album and has a composed and laid back opening where the music just dances along, as you move further along this musical journey it begins to ask more questions with a pressing and very catchy guitar motif that I particularly liked. The inquiring mind carries on in intricate fashion with some convoluted sections, studious and introspective. It is, on the whole, a really intelligent and inventive piece of music.

The final track on the album is the nine-minute plus To The Lighthouse and is a superb ending to this excellent, mostly instrumental, musical tapestry. A sombre opening leaves you engrossed and contemplative, a more serious overtone then follows. It’s almost like an elemental force strides across the soundscape, not evil, just curious and not understanding of our world. The music has different shades of light running through it, from the light though to the resolute and you are a willing passenger on the quest, feeling each transition transfixing your soul. This song is an utterly mesmeric musical voyage into the unknown, who knows where you will arrive.

Once again I am entranced by a great instrumental album release. Echoes and Signals produced something impressive with ‘V’ and, to my ears, they have just raised the bar again. With a new found confidence and maturity to their music, there are no boundaries to where they can go and I for one will watch their journey with interest. ‘Monodrama’ is another great musical export from Russia and it is one that everyone should be listening to.

Released 30th March 2017

Buy ‘Monodrama’ from bandcamp

 

 

 

BE PROG MY FRIEND! Festival 2016 – by Kevin Thompson

KF_Amorphis_PosterA1.eps

We’re English and we should be used to it, but let’s face it, there has been too much rain lately. An excuse, that’s what we needed. And then a poster appeared online for Be Prog, My Friend!, in Spain and the band list was just too tempting. Sun and great music has to be good and so Mrs T and I took the plunge, raided our piggy banks and booked gig tickets, flights and a hotel. Neither of us speaks Spanish, so armed with our little phrasebook we took off for warmer climes. This is not the story of our excellent weekend , but just the periods of the two days covering the festival, so I won’t be mentioning the delicious food, the wonderful Museum of Modern Art, or the exquisitely beautiful Sagrada Familia and the impressive Camp Nou. Nor will I mention the impressive buildings, statues, waterfalls or fountains at all.

We decided to recce the whereabouts of the the festival venue the day before, which turned out to be a very pleasant 30-40 minute walk from our hotel. This is not the first BPMF, though new to us and was to be held in the Poble Espanyol, an architectural museum in Barcelona, just a few meters away from the Fountains of Montjuïc.

The Poble Espanyol was built in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exhibition as the pavilion dedicated to art and was conceived as a real “village” in the heart of a city. The aim was to give an idea of what might be an “ideal model” of an Iberian village that would bring together all the characteristics of all peninsular villages. It was built in thirteen months and, curiously, had an expiry date, as it was supposed to last the same time as the Universal Exhibition: six months. However, thanks to its success, the Poble Espanyol still stands to this day, and some of the buildings have outlived the original ones to become one of the few monuments built for an International Exhibition that can still be visited.

The Festival is held in the central courtyard and is a beautiful setting with olive and palm tree lined  stone balustrade terraces, balconies draped with colourful plants and parakeets flying overhead. A far cry from soggy Glastonbury.

All your needs are catered for with ample eateries, bars and facilities and we never had to queue more than a couple of minutes for anything. It is the best organised festival we have been to and clean, as most people placed used food and drink containers in the bins provided when discarded, a few drunk ‘tourists’ being the exception and they were berated in to tidying up. There were even lockers available should you wish to offload items/garments and return to them during the day/night. Security was good and polite along with excellent service without hiked prices. The merchandise was plenty and I did indulge a little, again nothing was overpriced. So…….

DAY 1: Friday – 1700:

kEV 1

We arrived in good time and joined the line, people were friendly and my all over print PALLAS t-shirt drew quite a few admiring glances, there was quite a bit of t-shirt posing with everyone checking out each others. I got chatting to a guy in a Ltd edition Sanctuary 2 t-shirt and discovered he was a local and a big fan of Rob Reed. Entry to the Friday night was free if you had tickets for the Saturday, bargain!

We were soon through, into the festival and as we were some of the first, took the chance to get our bearings and map out the facilities, grabbing tokens for the food and drinks for both nights to save time and buying our merch. It was lovely and warm with a gentle, pleasant breeze circulating and the sun sat neatly at the edge of the courtyard roofs offering welcome shade. We found seating on some of the stone steps giving a great view, though standing and moving around at intervals was required to prevent ‘numb bums’.

Kev 4

Up first were local band, Exassens, (www.exxasens.com), formed in 2011, I’d describe them as an instrumental rock band, or post-rock, but with hints of progressive and space rock. A mix of different sounds, where guitars with long echoes, blend with synths and a powerful rhythmic base, displaying many influences such as Pink Floyd and The Cure, through to instrumental bands like Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai. The solar system backdrop videos adding to the atmosphere and they warmed the late afternoon crowd up nicely. Whilst mostly instrumental, Bruce Soord did make a surprise appearance to duet on vocals for one track raising a cheer from those watching.

Kev 2

As the venue began to fill we were joined by a bunch of Spanish lads and a lady (girlfriend) who explained they had grown up together in Barcelona and then gone their separate ways. The festival is their excuse to meet and catch up every year. They spoke fairly good English and we joked about our phrase book Spanish. They seemed to value our opinions on the bands and made for a very pleasant company throughout the evening. Konnie wasn’t complaining as the lads kept topping up her drinks!

Up next were Obsidian Kingdom, (www.obsidiankingdom.com) another local band with a hard-to-classify heavy sound with plenty of contrast, making use of multiple sound resources. Unfortunately the sombre and cryptic quality of the band’s lyrics and music coupled with muddied sound, brought the atmosphere down somewhat. I don’t have any live shots unfortunately as we had been led to believe no cameras were allowed (not true) and the heavy use of smoke in the early evening sun blurred my phone photos. Listening to them online now they sound better than on the day.

Plastic glasses refilled we were ready for the much anticipated Russian band, I Am The Morning and they didn’t disappoint. The captivating, angelic vocals of a barefoot Marjana Semkina as she floated round the stage, with the beautiful keys of classically trained piano maestro Gleb Kolyadin drifting around the square. They enchanted all and were ably assisted with strings and backing band. Flowers were thrown on stage and they won our hearts, someone even shouted out ‘Marry Me Marjana!”. They captivated everyone watching with a quite magical performance and deserve a wider audience.

Kev 3

By now the sun was beginning to set behind the buildings and the lamps in the square came on adding to the ambience as we discussed the music so far and waited for the next act.

Kev 5

On to the stage bounced the surprise of the festival for us, with much enthusiastic applause from our Spanish friends who had advised us ‘this band is brilliant, yes’. I had seen the current album cover but not heard any of the music from Icelandic band Agent Fresco (www.agentfresco.is) and what an awesome show. Think a male version of Bjork with a band coming from a Rage Against The Machine/At the Drive In angle and you’re some-way to describing them. The mechanics and rhythmic patterns unpredictably stutter, yet seamlessly stitch together into stunning compositions veering from blazing alt-guitar rock to piano ballads and stadium-size anthems, often in the same song, to decisive euphoric effect. All this with lead singer Arnór Dan Arnarson defying doctors orders after leaving hospital only 48 hours earlier, having been treated for pneumonia and told he had to rest. They left us breathless and wanting more and we hope Arnór is soon fully recovered and we get the opportunity to see them again.

Kev 6

The night had drawn in and we settled down ready for the head-liners, the excitement was palpable and voices rose as the anticipation grew. The stage planning and crews had made smooth transitions between the different acts, removing and replacing equipment with practised ease showing very little delay, keeping close to schedule but allowing time for ample refreshments.

Kev 7

Enter head-liners of the night The Pineapple Thief to resounding applause, as they burst into a repertoire, which plundered their catalogue as far back as Variations on a Dream including a ‘shortened’ version of one of my favourites, ‘Remember Us’ with some great guitar soloing. An apt track as the crowd were not going to forget this performance for a long while. Konnie remarked how much they have grown in the ‘live’ environment, the last time we saw them was in a very small, intimate venue and tonight they looked so comfortable on the large stage, every bit the stadium head-liners.

Kev 8

A polished, rocking performance, holding the crowd in the metaphorical palm of their hand and our newly found Spanish friends couldn’t agree more. Great sound quality and lighting added to the performance and even though they played a couple of encore tunes we would of all happily stayed longer.

Kev 9

Buoyed by a great night’s entertainment we said goodnight to our ‘crowd’ and flowed out of the venue and into the streets, strolling toward the city, it was 0130 and everyone was chatting as they walked. We struck up a conversation with a young Frenchman man who now lives in New Zealand. He’d flown over to visit his Mum in France and then down for the festival before heading back to NZ. To say he had enjoyed the first night would be an understatement, amid the numerous enthusiastic expletives he enthused about the evening none stop until we parted company and steered ourselves contentedly toward our Hotel, tomorrow would be a longer day, but who knew what delights awaited us………..

Kev 10

Part 2 of Kevin’s BE PROG, MY FRIEND! experience is coming very soon…..