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Five-Storey Ensemble: Not That City

For those who classed themselves as fans of Belarusian progressive-art-jazz outfit Rational Diet, the debut offering from Five-Storey Ensemble will be an enticing prospect, what with this new band being one of two to emerge from the artistically differentiated band, Archestra being the other. Rational Diet were known across their five albums for a style that ploughed its own furrow, caring not a jot for trends, fashions or hip-status. Instead they uncompromisingly combined a traditional folk sense from their homeland to angular jazz and off kilter art-rock, leaving them progressive, if most definitely not "Prog". Easy listening it was not and neither is Not That City, which finds Five-Storey Ensemble (an eleven piece orchestra with three guests) building acoustic based ideas into eerie moods and atmospheres that would make for an uncomfortable late night, darkened room listening experience. The tempo either crawls or careens, drawing the last breath out of an atmospheric idea one minute, hammering it to chaotic pieces the next with pin-point jabs and swipes of violin, oboe, accordion, double bass or piano. The odd insertion of electric guitar, bass and keyboards suddenly and briefly jarring the mood from authentic antique into angular modern, while in actuality the real Five-Storey Ensemble ethos lands somewhere firmly in between.

Vocals do play a part, but they too are brief and jarring, with the native tongue lyrics making for an oddly human, yet remote impression that leaves you unsure whether they entice you in, or roughly push you away. Although there's no doubt that the contributions in this department from Olga Podgaiskaja and Sergey Dolgushev add another dimension to music that is already startlingly diverse, yet unwaveringly focused.

As is often the case with albums in this style choosing highlights is a challenge. Not because there aren't any but because they come in flashes, passages grabbing the attention in between sections that relax and soothe, or vice versa. However the vocal sparring on "Yesterday Dormant" makes an instant impression, while the clash of poise and drama that fights to the death on the wonderfully titled "Amid The Smoke And Different Questions" stays with you long after the album is finished. However every song from the opening "The Harbinger" through to the closing title track has something that makes you sit up and take notice, or contentedly sit back and relax.

An accomplished and crafted release, Not That City couldn't be described as an album for all occasions. However when you have the time to 100% focus on what you are listening to and the desire to be whisked between numerous worlds in just over fifty minutes, then it is undoubtedly exactly where you should be.

Track Listing
1. The Harbinger
2. Bondman's Wings
3. The Incommunication
4. To Ringfly
5. A Disappearing Road
6. The Unpainted
7. Yesterday Dormant
8. The Protector
9. Fear-Dream
10. Amid The Smoke And Different Questions
11. Not That City

Added: August 10th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Altrock Records
Hits: 2204
Language: english

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