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Roussak, Andrew: No Trespassing

A Russian keyboard player living and making music in Germany, Andrew Roussak cites Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson as his primary influences. Add a dash of classical-music sensibility, and you've got No Trespassing a prog-rock mix of instrumentals, songs with vocals and traditional pieces. Here's a guy who's obviously poured his soul into this music, winning awards in Germany for his playing, and he's surrounded himself with talented guitarists and a groovy rhythm section. Roussak imagines what Bach's "Prelude" would sound like with 21st century enhancement and rearranges the composer's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" by dedicating it to his father. "Do Without Me" rallies around a grand piano, Hammond organ and Wurlitzer standoff, while instrumentals like "Wartime Chronicles" and "Vivace Furioso" show off Roussak's virtuoso chops. The tracks with vocals, however, are where No Trespassing often falls short of the mark. Roussak's melodic, symphonic music deserves both a stronger vocalist (Hendrick Plachtzik sounds sort of like Fish but not nearly as convincing) and stronger production (Roussak recorded, produced and mixed this one on his own). But once those two elements are in place, look out!


Track Listing:
1) No Trespassing
2) Prelude
3) Lost in the Woods
4) Wartime Chronicles
5) Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
6) Rhythm of the Universe
7) All Good Things
8) Do Without Me
9) Vivace Furioso
10) Maybe

Added: November 12th 2008
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Official Andrew Roussak Web Site
Hits: 3235
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Roussak, Andrew: No Trespassing
Posted by Alex Torres, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-11-12 01:47:29
My Score:

"J.S.Bach was far ahead of his time and one of the greatest composers in human history. Have you ever wondered what his music might have sounded like had he been able to make use of the technologies and sounds of the 21st Century?" These are his own words and, amongst quite a few other things, Russian Andrew Roussak tries to answer his own question on No Trespassing, treating us to a couple of arrangements of Bach classics during the piano/keyboard-led progressive rock extravaganza that makes this an excellent debut album.

If you love music, then you really do love music - all varieties. Roussak is clearly someone who loves music and demonstrates the depth of that love to us on this album. He has a strong pedigree as a keyboard player, playing in the bands Dorian Opera and Henry and having been voted "best keyboard player" and "best instrumental soloist" at the 2008 German (his country of residence) Pop & Rock Awards. Keyboard instruments and piano are a major feature of No Trespassing and the music herein will delight all fans of these instruments.

It quickly becomes clear on listening to the album and reading its sleeve notes that some of Roussak's major musical loves are European classical music and the progressive rock of keyboard artists such as Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. Certainly, anyone who enjoys the music of those two gentlemen will enjoy No Trespassing. But his love of music transcends just classical and progressive rock and on the album, as well as rock-band progressive rock and classical piano, Roussak also treats us to jazz and Broadway-musical style numbers.

The danger with an album of such strong eclecticism is that it becomes difficult to find a unifying factor that links all of the music and gives the listener a cohesive, strong "album feel", a feature that is present in all of the best albums. Strangely, despite the variety of styles of music on offer, I would say that this album does have a unifying factor and that is a keen sense of melody. The album is very rich in melody, irrespective of the genre and that helps to unify the sound across these pieces. It's peculiar in a sense that something as simple as melody could do that but, on the other hand, good melody is NOT simple, it just sounds that way. You either have the knack of composing good melody or you don't - that's the point. Roussak has the knack not only of identifying good melody but also of composing it, and demonstrates those qualities in abundance here.

Genre wise, the predominant flavor is of a rock-band electronic keyboard led progressive rock, played at medium to fast tempo, either in instrumental or sung formats (the vocalist is drummer Hendrik Plachtzik - don't be frightened, he's a good singer for this style of music!). Even within these numbers however, Roussak is wont to include sections of classically played piano but, like I said before, if you enjoy the kind of progressive rock pioneered by the likes of ELP and Rick Wakeman, you'll have no problems with this.

Interrupting the "straight" progressive rock compositions are "Prelude", the first of the two Bach pieces, which is given a prog-rock beginning before the classical piano takes over in the second half; "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring", the second Bach piece given a pretty arrangement but still dominated by the piano and "All Good Things" which is similarly dominated by piano; "Do Without Me", a good jazz number; and "Maybe", a Broadway musical style song with a gorgeous melody.

It's an album of varied music but that should suit us progressive types, right? It's also a very good album and will make me explore this artist's work more widely.




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