I always approach an extremely prolific band with a certain scepticism – how can they keep up a high quality if they release an album every year? How can they produce a masterpiece if all their best ideas are spread out over several albums? Where the hell do I start?
This approach has proved to be inaccurate in many cases, for example Norwegian psychedelic gods Motorpsycho this year managed to release a masterpiece eleven months after their last album, which was almost as good and came only a year after their previous masterpiece…
Leading on to topical band The Grand Astoria, their yearly LPs (excluding 2012) have shown a steady and exhilarating increase in quality from promising beginnings hindered by jarring punk-esque vocals to last year’s epic 75-minute Punkadelia Supreme in which they stated their intention to be one of the most distinctive stoner-rock acts around. Their sound flitted from insane wah-wah riffing to Eastern-influenced acoustic plucking, few songs under five minutes in length and every riff oozing with energy.
The band had two places to go from here: deliver a tighter, blistering magnum opus or lose their momentum and dip in quality. Evidenced by the rating, La Belle Epoque is the latter, but don’t be put off. In the time between these two albums, the band have progressed, dispensing such versatile goods as an acoustic EP, 30-minute song and even a tribute album to Black Flag. With these expansions of their sound, this album shows new, refreshing flairs like opener ‘Henry’s Got A Gun’ which is a 3-minute blues-punk rocker and contrast to their usual style of 8-minute, morphing epics. Similarly, ‘The Answer’ presents a change of their usual pace, slow-burning and featuring a flute as well as Kamille Sharapodinov’s recognisable dobro guitar use before the distortion enters. However, the song never feels the need for a fast passage or freak-out solo… that comes later.
After this demonstration that the band are not afraid to try new things, those waiting for the fuzz are treated to two epics in a row, ‘Gravity Bong’ and the 14-minute ‘Serpent and the Garden of Eden,’ which do not disappoint. It’s all there, head-banging riffs via sensual interplay between guitarists Sharapodinov and Igor Suvorov, Vladimir Zinoviev’s proficient drumming and double-bass-pedal use, cunningly-placed shredding solos, and even a few surprises on the way.
The latter track takes a number of unexpected detours, the development of hooks showing the band’s dexterity and giving the song a convincingly progressive nature. Most enjoyable is a loungey blues break around the eight-minute mark, and after a return to stoner-rock riffing the song’s time signature slows until the album’s stand-out moment, where an orchestra and church-like bells come in for the song’s spine-tingling, movie soundtrack-eqsue climax.
What’s frustrating about this is that moments like these are much fewer and far between than Punkadelia and even Omnipresence, not due to bad songs but simply a lack of the same creative drive those albums had. The shortened length of this album at almost half as long as their previous is a telling sign of this; the guitar hooks, lyrics and song arrangements simply aren’t as good. The title track is noticeable in its promising start, being some of the band’s most relaxed and upbeat work, high-pitched bells and Sharapodinov’s falsetto building to a brief musical interlude, then suddenly ending. This leaves the impression of lazy song-writing, like the album should have been given more time to develop rather than being rushed out maintain a one-album-a-year tradition.
While Sharapodinov’s vocals have improved vastly from the thorniness of their first LPs to a point where they actually fit with the music, there are several instances of cringe-inducing lyrics excused only for the fact that English is not their first language, see phrases such as “In the dark / we carry on,” “Love / is the answer” and most amusingly, Gravity Bong’s “Moon is high / and so am I…”
Nevertheless, none of these issues stand out enough for the album to be unlistenable, and can somewhat be seen as a ‘characterful’ aspect of the band, akin to Sharapodinov’s Russian accent at one point exclaiming “move your ess!” when he is clearly referring to your ‘ass’. Besides, this album, along with the other new elements of The Grand Astoria’s sound leading up to it, provide more impelling hope for the future that a magnum opus is upon us. Of course, this all depends on whether the band plays its cards right, fully-furnishing all of their ideas to their potental yet keeping up that prolific nature.” Review (C) Finbar of http://www.sputnikmusic.com
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“The new “Symphorock Adventure” AKP heralds another instrumental masterpiece from the musical king from the east.
Two dynamically contrasting lead guitarists light the flames for the famous Kalugin keyboard sounds, add some brutal bass and drum sounds, gorgeous sax and flute and he has created the recipe for one hell of a fireball and an instrumental storm, musically its game on and Kalugin delivers majestically.
As ever with Kalugin, immense thought and detail goes into each album, “magicians ” itself taking several years to complete. I first heard most of the tracks in the famous Kalugin demo format some 18 months ago and I am so excited that finally i can share this joy with you.
It’s a musical fairytale played out within the mind with some of the most inventive, powerful and expressive tracks I have had the good fortune to be involved with, the as ice quality production creates a fitting atmosphere and platform which takes the listener on an exhilarating journey, satisfying even the most challenging of music minds, all of AKP music can be enjoyed on so many levels and are like an Aladdin’s cave of melody and track composition.
Its a “Symphorock Adventure” which will give you so much enjoyment. I know you will continue to press that repeat button on your CD player – its Kalugin’s finest statement yet and that’s a huge endorsement in itself, enjoy folks – the hottest symphorock of 2014″
Will – Caerllysi Music
Somali Yacht Club is a stoner rock trio from Lviv, Ukraine. The band mixes elements of stoner rock, psychedelic rock, shoegazing and post-metal in their music. Formed in 2010, as a jam band, but evolved to a main band for it’s members. In August 2011 self-released their first four-song EP “Sandsongs”. In late 2014 are releasing first LP ‘The Sun’ on Bilocation Records.
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The Cavestompers! – russian band confessing savage garage-punk, from mid-sixties and primitive beat sound, filled with psychedelic guitar and organ passages that has been around since 2006. The sound experiments of the band gradually led to birth of their own specific sound based on heavy usage of east-bloc and soviet equipment & instruments, which can be described as a slightly delayed answer to sixties garage music coming from an Iron Curtain. The Cavestompers! are well known not only in Russia where they play frequently and did 4 big local tours, but abroad as well. Their debut LP “Introducing…” was released on vinyl by one of most profilic European labels “Groovie Records” based in Portugal and this year the band is releasing a 10 inch EP on famous US Get Hip label, plus a seven inch split with The Organs from New-York on local label Chickpea records.
The bands music was featured on 40 some radio stations and shows all across the world. The debut album was chosen release of the month on french Stoned Circus radio in march 2009 and release of the year on Whole Lotta Shakin radio-show in Rochester, NY. “Introducing” was also put on the list of best releases of 2009 by Rock Around The Blog web-zine from Portugal. Good reviews came from Cavestomp festival, Electric Prunes, Gonn!, Lenny Helsing, Robert Gordon, legendary PUNK! magazine, Shindig magazine UK, Fuzzoverdoze Greece, Kick out the jams Spain, Rumore magazine Itay, Tip Berlin, Rolling Stone Russia, Time Out Russia, Virus magazine Germany, Lost In Tyme fanzine Greece, Bananas magazine NY, USA.
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A musical group from the city of Togliatti. This project was created for the implementation of all the musical experimentation that do not fit into one specific genre.
“Bedtime Stories” is a phased description of our dreams, in which there are different emotions, from the time of dreams: calm, happiness, sadness, fear. In fact it is one single story with an interesting ending.
Only one saved concert record from legendary 70’s band from Leningrad. Well known as “Live at LGU” in non-remastered version. In 2009 in remastered version it was edited on CD under name “1972″
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Short-lived project of musichians Leningrad bands Sankt-Peterburg and Mifi (on photo) . Band gives only one concert and… I must say it… they was very drinking! You can feel it. It was fail and they back to their other projects. General joke of history – this bad concert one of some concerts of Lenengrad 70’s bands that was recorded, and now it one of “sacred cows” for collectors
Collection of non-album studio tapes, made in different time and places. Look at this like on second Ivanov Down’s album, but here band sings on english and material not very crazy like on first records. Still lo-fi psychedelic indie post-punk…
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This is one of the very madness records from post-soviet space. This musicians from Kiev gives absolutely freedom to their musical thinking, forget about all borders. Their style may be called like post-punk with strange avant-guarde structures and language
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