One sometimes doesn't know where to start in describing things under the progressive-rock umbrella, considering that the term comes with such a pile of baggage it's practically impossible to see around. The modern-day genre (to the extent that's even a recognizable thing) arguably has even more issues than the 1970s version: there are more bands out there than ever, more different styles and influences to combine or imitate, and more chances for players to simply fall back on a template that was groundbreaking back then rather than pushing their current boundaries.
All of which is to say: try to forget all that in this case, because Gleb Kolyadin gets it right. He honors and draws from the masters, from Stravinsky to Keith Jarrett to ELP, with a wide musical imagination that refuses to be limited to any influences anyway. Some common characteristics of prog are indeed all over his self-titled debut a downright staggering virtuosity on the keys, refined Baroque flourishes rubbing elbows with wild rock solos and jazzy improv, and compositions often intricate enough to twist your brain into a pretzel.
At the same time it manages to sidestep the most obvious pitfalls. Kolyadin sticks mainly to piano with measured dips into Chick Corea electric-keyboard territory, staying far away from grandiose synth-heavy bombast. For every greased-lightning instrumental rollercoaster ride, there's a quieter passage willing to hang in the air with the tasteful restraint of Brian Eno. Any drama is craftily built into the songs and dynamics without any reliance on overt theatrics.
Guest singers Mick Moss and Steve Hogarth fit into the flow with beautiful simplicity in their spots (both of them alluringly haunting). Theo Travis capers with fiery abandon on sax and even manages a delightful Jethro Tullian flute solo. Somehow it all feels of a piece together with lovely solo piano fugues, chiming glockenspiel and vibes, electronically processed aria vocals and a wicked amped-to-11 Jordan Rudess synth solo in the final stretch.
It should all be a mess. In almost any hands it doubtlessly would beyet somehow Gleb Kolyadin finds the magical chemistry to weave everything into a dazzling ride with the smarts of Robert Fripp and the badassery of Beethoven. The spirit of Keith Emerson is probably pumping his fist in delight at seeing such inspired wizardry to carry on the tradition, and who knows, Franz Lizst may be cheering just as loud.
Insight; Astral Architecture; White Dawn; Kaleidoscope; Eidolon; Into the Void; The Room; Confluence; Constellation/The Bell; Echo/Sigh/Strand; Penrose Stairs; Storyteller; The Best of Days.
Gleb Kolyadin: piano, keyboards; Gavin Harrison: drums; Nick Beggs: bass; Theo Travis: saxophone, flute; Vlad Avy; guitars; Evan Carson: bodhran, percussion; Grigori Osipov: vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel; Jordan Rudess: keyboards; Mick Moss: vocals; Steve Hogarth: vocals.
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