The Belarussians' second release is an impressive mixture of rock and chamber classical compositions and improvisations showcasing the skills of the seven players with electric and acoustic instruments, dominated by strings and piano. The opening piece has a clear classical structure, drawing heavily on the most important Russian 20th century composers with some fine bassoon from Vitaly Appow. The more angular and aggressive track which follows features the wild soprano talent of pianist and composer Olga Podgaiskaya as she accompanies her stabbing keyboard with a voice racing through the scales. A sweet violin slows things down a little but under tension, as the piano threatens to take over again. This is achieved eventually when a sonorous bassoon and heavy bass combine to drive the violin to ecstatic heights.
Two short interludes separate the next main piece, the first "Wet Moss" played primarily on electric guitar by Maxim Velvetov and the second "The Mourners"; a neurotic combination of piano and violin. In "Closed Case" you could be listening to Art Zoyd or the Art Bears. A slow opening leads to an increasingly frenetic pitch with all the bands' instruments coming together for a fiery finish. The cello and violin give a late 19th century chamber feel to "Ariel's last dream", one of the most sedate of the album's 9 compositions. The dramatic and sharp chord progressions which typify the RIO school are evident in "Horse Army" which builds from a gentle opening foray of whispering sax and frail violin to a crescendo of bassoon and piano before the opening violin returns to lead the fast paced percussive exit.
"Condemended" is a ten minute work which stretches all the musicians' skills through a cleverly constructed composition with highlights in the very classical bassoon arrangement, the meandering violin with its underpinning cello stomp, the pretty piano figure which leads into a slow rondo-styled build and the dissonant sax and drums which shatter that structure to jaw-dropping effect at the close. The final melodic piece hints at David Cross' work with King Crimson and brings some soothing relief with its gentle violin and sax and hypnotic organ supporting the eerie vocal.
Obvious comparisons are with Univers Zero and Art Zoyd but, if anything, Rational Diet has a more formal classical bent. Definitely one for the chamber-rock fans.
2. Dear Kontrabandist
3. Wet Moss
4. The Mourners
5. Closed case
6. Ariel's last dream: Birobidjan
7. Horse Army
9. On Tuesdays