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Batisfera: Solar Wind - The Inner Circle

As its title and track names suggest, Solar Wind - The Inner Circle from Moscow based progressors Batisfera is a conceptual work taking us on a whistle stop tour of the inner reaches of our solar system. Although dig a little deeper and the situations and occurrences described in the lyrics could well transpose into everyday life situations, with much talk of fathers and sons (suns). Musically we are slap bang in the centre of 70s prog, with Yes and Genesis leant upon heavily, while Camel and to a lesser extent Uriah Heep (in the heavier sections only) also take some of the weight from time to time. Effectively a trio, the band, Oleg Anurin (vocals, flute, didgeridoo and all manner of keyboards), Mike Zonov (guitar, vargan) and Mike Heifets (drums) are skilled musicians, with the interplay between the three and the album's quartet of guests being impressive indeed. However in terms of keeping Solar Wind interesting throughout, that isn't quite enough and for a variety of reasons the near eighty minutes of music served up here often drags. Firstly the vocals, which while expectedly accented (not something I ever have a real problem with), are less than steady, with a mix of reedy, thin plain singing being counterpointed by what would best be described as an enthusiastic shout. Both "styles" grate on the nerves quickly, although mercifully much of the album is instrumental, which for spells cures one malady, although in its own way bring on another. Any album of the length of Solar Wind (especially over just one single disc) really needs to have the knack of remaining cohesive while continually adding, building, or indeed removing and de-constructing flavours throughout. Something Batisfera fail to do, leading to an inevitable drop in concentration. The odd addition of flute, or more outlandish instruments (vargan, didgeridoo, doudouk, kemancha, kemani) do vary the focus on occasion, adding a baroque feel in places, a folk vibe in others and the odd hint of Jethro Tull. However none of it feels vital to their surroundings, bringing the flavours purely for the need for a new taste, rather than to be truly savoured on the palette.

The sheer scope of what has been attempted here is at times really quite breathtaking, with nearly an hour and half of continuous music which is deeply complex, conceptual and undoubtedly from the heart being no small undertaking. There's also no denying that there are flashes of brilliance, especially in the restrained guitar playing, which while full-on in places, always puts the song first, or in the classy keyboard, Hammond, Rhodes work, which is more than tasteful across the entire disc. With some skilled editing these elements alone could have presented something really rather special, however weighed down by the sheer size of what has been attempted here, the blandness of some of the "transitional" pieces which link the main songs and the at times plain awful vocals, the end results mean that even the most gifted of musicians will struggle to have their impact truly felt.

Not bad by any measure of means, Solar Wind The Inner Circle simply fails to connect in the desired way and while the odd dip into the music displayed herein may reward and invigorate, once fully immersed, the propensity for everything to simply tread water becomes overpowering. Hopefully for their next effort Batisfera decide to concentrate less on length and conceptual complexity and more on making the music as engaging to listen to, as it is no doubt, to create.

Track Listing
01. The Sun You're My Son
02. Transition A
03. Mercury Who I Am
04. Transition B
05. Venus Brought You Roses Every Sunday
06. Transition C
07. Earth I'm Walking
08. Transition D
09. Mars Four Years Since
10. Transition E
11. Phaeton Don't Touch Me!

Added: March 29th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Batisfera on MySpace
Hits: 1619
Language: english

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