There's some interesting music coming from the old Soviet bloc these days. For example our recent review of the Alexander Kostarev Group described some seriously skilled musicians with a very obvious classical background. With Agarta we have a group from Irkutsk with a similar skill level, but this time the orientation is jazz. There are moments of pure symphonic progressive rock with a long ambient introduction and a fusion infusion, but several tracks – like #3 "Play On Words" and #4 "State Of Weightlessness" we're into melodic jazz.
This all-instrumental album has a breathless high-energy go-go-go feel - it is relentless and intense with the guitar seeming to take the lead role. But listen to the bass. This CD could serve as a tutorial to youngsters wanting to hone their craft on that instrument. Yes, the lead guitar is up front in the mix and draws the melody lines - but this record revolves around the bass. This is tightly composed stuff.
Some pieces - like track 5 "The Autumn Garden" - would sound at home in a hotel lobby or an elevator, while others are intense and demanding and will draw your attention whether you like it or not.
There's a good variance from song to song, but with its limited lineup you get the impression that Under The Same Sky's relatively short 41 minutes is just the right length, and 42 minutes might have been too long. It comprises eight tracks, yet with a nine-minute mini-epic and three six minute pieces there's plenty of time for the music to develop character.
Production seems to be rather good in parts and frankly suspect in others. Most of the 9-minute opening title-track carries an excessive bass sound that spills into space that should be reserved for other instruments or just for space. There are long, skillful guitar solos but they're pushed too far back in the mix.
From the soft psychedelic notes that that open it to the elegant flute solo that closes it and through all those gently driving bass and guitar gymnastics in between, and despite all that energy, Under The Same Sky is the kind of soft easy going music that we should all hear more often.Track Listing:
- Under The Same Sky (9:04)
- Seven Yards! (5:14)
- Play On Words (6:41)
- State Of Weightlessness (5:42)
- The Autumn Garden (4:57)
- Rain Architecture (5:48)
- Detonator Of The Genius (2:04)
- Loneliness (1:24)