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Happy 55 - A Magic Word (ВОЛШЕБНОЕ СЛОВО) CD (album) cover

A MAGIC WORD (ВОЛШЕБНОЕ СЛОВО)

Happy 55

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.76 | 7 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Happy new year! HAPPY55 is a new Russian group. The subgenre is one I don't necessarily enjoy much, but it wouldn't be the first time that the album under that category pleases me to a surprising amount. Let's see... The instrumental music here is lively, playful, bright and elegant, and I believe in most libraries it would be categorized in Jazz instead of Rock (especially if the library didn't have a separate and very open-minded Prog section). Yes, I'm certain of that, considering both the instrumentation and the compositions - which is not to suggest that Avant/RIO would be a false choice here; this doesn't sound like Fusion or Jazz-Rock. But categorizing aside, I'll try to describe the music and my reception of it.

The main instruments are piano and clarinet, accompanied by a rhythm section. The synth additions are in a minor role on the album. This extremely anti-rock combo (clarinet is a rare instrument in prog-rock, especially without the presence of other reeds such as saxophone or flute, and so, to a lesser extent though, is also the acoustic piano without the equal presence of other keyboards) makes me to hear this music as modern European chamber jazz rather than as [progressive] rock. Not that the listening experience would need a certain category in mind, but what I'm trying to say is that AS A PROG ALBUM the instrumentation is a bit disappointing, ie. NARROW to my ears.

Can't say I would have ever enjoyed clarinet that much... It's a nice ADDITIONAL colour if there are several instruments (think of the music of the Finnish composerts such as PEKKA POHJOLA or Anssi Tikanmäki for example). I'm afraid this is why this band or album won't enter my list of favourite new bands.

Do the compositions impress me then? Well, not notably. This music is perhaps a bit too intellectual, as opposed to emotional, to make a deeper impression on me. Later on the album where the synths steal some ground from the clarinet (e.g. 'The Thing That Happened') things get more interesting, but the whole is slightly too unemotional. I can praise this music as intelligent, original and elegant. I just don't think the CD will find its way to my player very often. And the cover design... yawn.

Warmly recommended if you like modern, piano-centred chamber jazz and the sound of clarinet.

Matti | 3/5 |

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