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Roz Vitalis: Elephant Live

Only a few months back I pronounced my admiration, and confusion, at what Russian one-man project turned band, Roz Vitalis gave us by way of The Hidden Man Of The Heart. A symphonic prog album with heavy Canterbury scene overtones that simply refused to lie down and conform to type. Instead, the wildly varied offering often left me flummoxed as to what had been intended, while still reasonably impressed by what was unveiled.

And here they are back for more, this time with a live album, Elephant Live, that barely has an on stage feel whatsoever, so quiet are the crowd in the grand scheme of this recording. Completely instrumental (something that’s not always a given for Roz Vitalis), the freedom of form allowed here brings the trumpet (and I’d suggest saxophone but that’s not credited) of acoustic guitar player Alexey Gorshkov right into the middle of opening piece “Too Late Awakening (Daybreaking Version)”. “Premonition” fares likewise, but as often as not it is the keyboard work from Ivan Romainskey that sets a tone that the electric guitars of Vladimir Efimov and Vladimir Semenof-Tyan-Shansky gleefully use as a stepping stone for all manner of spinning lead lines and growling riffs.

Often likened to Camel in the manner in which they approach their compositions, there’s also a whole lot more going on as the likes of “Psalm 6” flits between meandering shouts and exuberant serenity. As ever it’s the contradictions within and between the songs that seem to set the strongest impression and the jazzy undercurrent that flits beneath “Jungle Waltz” ensures that the results are never straight forward or willingly unravelled. To me, some of the sounds created can, while full force and hard hitting, be a little twee and the obvious desire to reside in a retro space can leave things feeling ever so slightly naive. However I’d happily concede that much of that could be viewed as entirely intentional.

If the above sounds intriguing, then I urge you to give Roz Vitalis a spin. In all honesty I found their last studio effort to be something of a trial that did eventually pay dividends, but in this live setting I’m still waiting for the rewards to become fully clear. That’s not to say that the performances aren’t skilled and from the heart, but the impenetrable nature of a lot of what Roz Vitalis do just seems that little bit harder to break down in this setting.


Track Listing
1. Too Late Awakening (Daybreaking Version)
2. Passing Over
3. Bait of Success
4. Premonition
5. Psalm 6
6. Jungle Waltz
7. The Hidden Man of the Heart

Added: November 16th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Roz Vitalis on bandcamp
Hits: 95
Language: english

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