A major album of 2002
Here is an album that is impossible to take out of your CD player. It has that rich seam of creativity running right through it and is impossible to stop playing until you've savoured every last note, every influence that this music soaks up. It has an air of lasting beauty that never diminishes and creates an atmosphere you can cut with a knife.
The band Romislokus now mostly live in Moscow, they released their first album in 2001 entitled 'Between The Mirrors'. The style/influence of this new offering stems from many varied directions and blends, such as classical, electronic, ambient, classic rock with female backing vocals and strings, all tinged with progressive rock influences.
All musicians and singers involved display a caring passion for the music. The arrangements are full and complete and everything is held together with the cello and violin which grace the music with chilling yet soulful notes. The violin, but most especially the cello, is well used giving this whole body of work a haunting almost classical edge. The end result is an album and band who can compete with the best that Europe can offer.
Lastly, I have to mention the vocals by Yri Smolnikov. He has a superb husky voice (all vocals in Russian) that adds to the beauty and dimension of this whole melodic album.
It opens with 'The Snow Of The Rails' which has a melodic, shimmering, almost ambient backdrop overlaid with programmed percussion, a very haunting track that bursts into life in the last quarter.
The cello comes into play on the classic rock track 'The Face Of A City' which has an infectious melodic tune and beat with chiming guitars and keys. This guitar style can also be found on the mighty 'Miss The Target' which has a dark, sombre intro that eventually develops with the violin, cello and Yri's superb husky voice. Track 5, 'It Is Winter', sums this masterful album up with its mix of tubular bells, strings and infectious rhythm that contains elements of acoustic, synth, progressive and yes, classic rock.
Another new direction can be found on 'A Tree By The Wall'. This track has a Spanish/Latin sound that conjures up images of spaghetti westerns then darts off into ambient areas followed by some chilling cello notes, eventually returning to the opening theme. This really is quality composing. Finally, this album tips right into electronic music with track 8, 'Tuner' which comes straight out of the territory where Tangerine Dream reside.
To sum up, this is an irresistible major piece of composing and performing by all concerned. For the most part all the instruments are underplayed giving this project a truly professional sound where no one musician is trying to impress or overstate their importance over fellow members. As mentioned, the cello and violin are a welcome addition to this kind of music and hopefully more bands will pay attention to these instruments. The female backing vocals also add variation and depth especially on 'The Face Of A City'. On first hearing this album it sounded mellow and thoughtful but on further listening the power seemed to become more evident till this whole body of work gelled and became extremely consistent. This band prove that Russia should not be overlooked when searching for superb musicians and equally important, new music directions and ideas. They create the same passion and emotion in their music as the Estonian musician Igor Garsnek and the Italian Lucio Lazzaruolo. Romislokus bring a lasting breath of fresh air to a genre that sometimes can become predictable. Faultless. 100%