‘Who?’, I can hear you ask from out there when reading this. ‘Who is Gleb Kolyadin and why should I care?’ Well, you might know Kolyadin from such films bands as iamthemorning, the celebrated prog rock duo featuring him and the beautiful voice of Marjana Semkina. His first solo album treads fresh ground for the world of music as a whole.
CHOPS AND CHANGES
This is a classic Kscope release for many reasons. The recording quality is amazing, clear as a bell and punchy, and the list of musicians who’ve collaborated with Kolyadin includes many from the Kscope stable, including Gavin Harrison (King Crimson), Theo Travis (Steven Wilson) and Nick Beggs (Wilson, The Mute Gods) amongst some other high-profile guests which I’ll come to later. Even though this is a ‘solo’ album, the communication and interplay between all the musicians makes this record come alive!
The first track, “Insight”, is an upbeat, pumping piece with plenty of piano ostinatos and busy, driving drums. Initially sounding like E.S.T in both style and recording, it eventually reveals a lot more. Kolyadin adds some synth lead with a backing of tenor sax and strings; this creates a very interesting pallet that sounds simultaneously modern and retro. After the sax comes to the fore with a full solo, there is some fuzzy synth before an abrupt ending. Interesting, arresting, unexpected, and it gets the adrenaline going!
“Astral Architecture” is in complete contrast, thanks to its soft and gentle piano intro, brushes on drums, and Mick Moss on vocals. If you are anything like me, you’ll immediately look up Moss and see that he’s the main brain behind Antimatter. His gruff, lower range vocal style contrasts brilliantly with the gentle piano backing; it’s like the negative image of iamthemorning!
A KALEIDOSCOPE OF STYLES
Kolyadin continues showing his mastery of different styles of music, from the classical Baroque of “White Dawn” to the epic “Kaleidoscope”, featuring the first real nod to the band’s prog heritage. Including a female choir-like vocal and a manic flute solo from Travis, it has a real ‘Kscope feeling’, culminating in a giant synth solo and a driving backbeat to finish it all off. The song really lives up to its name, delivering a kaleidoscope of colours and timbres!
At around halfway through the album, I was listening expectantly to see what else would be served up. Well, it seems that Kolyadin has the ability to endlessly keep conjuring up new and fresh music! “Into the Void” draws on his Russian heritage with some folk/ethnic scales/harmonies and a sinister middle section, whereas “The Room” features a great sax and piano duet.
H TO OH
Another vocal collaboration is with good ol’ Steve Hogarth (Marillion) on “Confluence”. Given the moody atmospherics, I wondered how the mighty ‘H’ would fare with this. Never one to do the obvious, he delivers an unexpected free-form talking vocal, with his usual expressive lyrical style. I’m not convinced th fully gels, and this is the first time I felt that something wasn’t exactly working on the album. The track improves, however, as the drums and bass return with a groove to compliment the arpeggio-style piano, building to a climatic finish that makes it one of the most epic tracks on the album.
The latter half this album has a number of more overtly classical pieces (“Constellation/The Bell”, “Echo/Sigh/Strand”) which are superbly performed and recorded. These provided an awesome interlude to the record’s frantic nature up to this point, and showcase Kolyadin’s exceptional ability on piano, both in composing and performing. And even these songs feature some interesting new textures, including B-movie-like female choirs from outer space!
The other high profile collaboration is with Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) on “Storyteller”. I initially wondered what I would get with two piano virtuosos battling it out on a single track, and true to form I got a whole new set of sounds to excite me! A gentle duet of piano and synth moves into a distorted spoken word section, then gets down and dirty with a low end piano bass line and Rudess giving it some welly on the synths in his unique style. This is a short track, but a real blast before closing the album out with the second Hogarth collaboration (which fares much better than the first).
A UNIQUE PIECE OF ART
This has been a bit of an epic review, and if you’ve made it this far, I applaud you. The album just keeps on giving, and it’s almost impossible to stop talking about it. It’s intense, interesting and dramatically different. Sit down and focus while listening; appreciate the dynamics and amazing performances that ooze from the speakers. Quite often, albums that experiment widely with many different sounds and styles can leave the listener disorientated, but Kolyadin has managed to glue everything together perfectly using the piano, both thematically (“Eidolon”) and also in spirit. The whole thing is a work on art in the truest sense.
It’s almost impossible to convey in this review how different it is. From the virtuoso performances to the the myriad of influences from Bach to Beethoven and from Jarrett to King Crimson, you have to experience it to truly understand, and I heartily recommend that you do.
Notable Tracks: “Insight”; “Kaleidoscope”; “Penrose Stairs”, “Storyteller”
FFO: E.S.T, Marillion, King Crimson, Steven Wilson