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Korni Grupa / Kornelyans - Kornelyans: Not An Ordinary Life CD (album) cover

KORNELYANS: NOT AN ORDINARY LIFE

Korni Grupa / Kornelyans

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.04 | 36 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars What a difference only a couple of years made to Yugoslavian rock band Korni Grupa. The group released one of the best prog-related works from that region with their self-titled LP in 1972, a mix of adventurous rock music with lengthy jazzy and heavily improvised instrumental passages, but two years later brought about many changes. Tweaking their name to Kornelyans and switching to English vocals to hopefully offer a more international appeal, 1974's `Not an Ordinary Life' also brought about a complete change in sound, the band adopting a keyboard heavy full-blown symphonic prog approach with interesting results that reminds of bands like Morgan, Omega and Yes, providing a crossover of tighter melodic appeal but not skimping on ravishing instrumental elements as well.

The keyboard-driven change in style is completely evident right from the short two-minute opening introduction `Rising', a lightly prancing and breezy symphonic theme full of bubbling synths and trickles of crystalline piano. But the ten-minute title track `Not an Ordinary Life' is an instant statement-of-intent, full of a ravishing selection of ideas and great playing, and there's an almost loopy Frank Zappa quality weaving in and out of the exotic percussion breaks, quirky group-vocal driftings, eerie sound-collages and dynamic instrumental runs. There's no let-up to Vladimir Furduj's rumbling drums, Josip Bocek delivers fiery electric guitar bursts, Bojan Hreljac aggressively attacks his relentless bass, and Kornelije Kovac's plentiful thick and exhilarating keyboards are often very much in the manner of Rick Wakeman's work on the early Yes albums. Zlatko Pejakovic's vocals remain as curious and challenging as ever (he's either very effective as on the first Korni Grupa album or unbearable when he falls into the screeching wails on the Grupa Dah one), but there's a jubilant energy to his charmingly accented voice here. The track probably doesn't really hold together too well, but it is admirably ambitious and never dull. `Generation 1942' keeps up the same diverse approach but attempts to graft it to a more accessible tune, with jangling acoustic passages and moody organ carrying a melancholic lyric with a soaring and hearty chorus, and listen out for the cool playful Yes-like infectious Moog solo spot!

The spirited lead vocal and battery of keyboard attack resembles Greenslade on side two's opener `Fall of the Land of Women', and instrumental `Temporary Parting' has a touch of Camel to its playful and dreamy excited keyboards and peppy Moog runs, book-ended with a sparkling piano and sombre organ reflection. The near-twelve minute `Man with a White Flag' offers plenty of infectious grooves slinking in and out of an endless selection of winning little symphonic themes jammed to the gills with an ocean of keyboard sheen and smouldering guitar embers. An extended instrumental E.L.P-like sprint in the middle and the lovely jazzy outro are especially pleasing, but the whole closer is truly a sublime showcase of the versatility and talent of the band.

The album cover boasts `Includes `Generation 42' suggesting it was a single of note, but it unfortunately didn't appear to win the band any great success or further acclaim, and they ended up splitting the same year that this album was released, with a later 1975 LP `Mrtvo More' including parts of their farewell concert performance. For those wanting to investigate the band, there's two options - if you like the early adventuresome proto-prog rock bands that stretched out with lots of jamming, go for the `Korni Grupa' debut, if you prefer terrifically performed keyboard-heavy symph-prog, grab this colourful and confident work first. Better yet, why not just track down and enjoy both?!

Four stars for a sterling effort from a great band.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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