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PANDORA SNAIL

Eclectic Prog • Russia


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Pandora Snail biography
Pandora Snail band was founded by professional musicians in 2008 in Saint-Petersburg as an instrumental project, but in practice the band became the solid team in 2010.

On February 2011 the band got a new drummer Igor Cheridnik, enough skilled and known musician, who played in many well known St.Petersburg bands such as Auction, Kolibry, Igry.

The whole year 2011 was spent by musicians preparing musical content composed by Ulyana Gor, who was the author of majority compositions in the first album, polishing and making better performance of melodic and complicated compositions.

Since that moment the band became the permanent member of music festivals, mainly progressive, and making recital performances in their native city St.Petersburg.

All the members of Pandora Snail are serious and professionally skilled people. The leader of the band and keyboard player Ulyana GOR has classical grand piano player education. Kirill KLUSHIN is also enough known bass player, the member of UNION OF COMMERCIAL AVANTGARDE.

In 2014, Igor CHERIDNIK left the band. His place now is occupied by young drummer Vsevolod SHUVALOV.

The band is influenced by QUEEN, Sergej RAHMANINOV, KING CRIMSON, and most of the progressive rock of the early 70's.

Also, at the festival "Strange Music," they won the title of "Very Strange" (in Russian, "Страннее странного"). In addition, since the founding of the group, they have changed the three soloists, two bassists and three drummers.

In 2015, a label from Moscow ArtBeat released the first bands album «War And Peace».

Today the bands members are:
- Ulyana GOR (keyboards, composer)
- Oleg GORGADZE (guitar, composer)
- Vsevolod SHUVALOV (drums)
- Kirill KLUSHIN (bass guitar)
- Artem GAREEV (violin)

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PANDORA SNAIL discography


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PANDORA SNAIL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.92 | 117 ratings
War and Peace
2015

PANDORA SNAIL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.03 | 10 ratings
Live at Babooinumfest
2017

PANDORA SNAIL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

PANDORA SNAIL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PANDORA SNAIL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 5 ratings
Metamorphosis
2016

PANDORA SNAIL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 War and Peace by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.92 | 117 ratings

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War and Peace
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

Having really enjoyed the Russian band's live album from last year, I have now finally come across their debut studio album from 2015. Yet again I am amazed at the quality of the music and just how enjoyable this is the very first time I played it, growing to love it even more with each repeated play. Virtually instrumental, the band that one immediately starts to compare them with is Kansas due to the way that the violin is often taking the lead role, but they are influenced by way more than just one band and acts as diverse as King Crimson, Art Zoyd and Frank Zappa have all had their part to play with this album. It is complex and highly structured, with melodies and counter melodies repeated on different instruments (always nice to hear pure piano take a lead role), yet there is a vitality and breath of life through the whole piece. It is music that in some ways does take a lot of listening to, to gain the most benefit, yet at the same time is also immediate and transparent.

This album certainly never comes across as a debut, and I have heard that it took five years from the recording for it to see the light of day, and if that is the case then that is nothing short of travesty and tragedy as this is a super piece of work. There are a great many bands coming out of Russia at present, and Pandora Snail should be viewed as being at the vanguard of the progressive rock movement as this is superb on just so many levels. I can only hope that given the reviews I have seen over both this and the live album that they soon follow up with another visit to the studio.

 Live at Babooinumfest by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Live, 2017
4.03 | 10 ratings

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Live at Babooinumfest
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This band really knows how to play!

I was lucky enough to be introduced by Nikolaj to Pandora Snail's music almost a couple of years ago, when this amazing Russian band released their War & Peace album (a personal 5-star album, by the way), which surprised me positively due to its variety of sounds and genres, creating a solid sound that reflects the musicians' likes and talent. A great progressive-fusion journey I had with that album! Early this 2017 they released their first live-album, which let us know that they are not only awesome in studio, but also they have a lot to offer on stage, which is why I cross my fingers and hope to see them live someday soon. This released is entitled "Live at Babooinum Fest", features 6 songs and a total time of 48 minutes.

The first surprise when I saw the setlist is that out of the six songs, just one was taken from that acclaimed War and Peace album, the rest I assume will belong to their second studio album, which I understand, is on the making nowadays, and can't wait to see its release! Well, this album opens with 'Way Up' and since the very first seconds violin appears, just as in studio, its role is very important in Pandora Snail's sound. After a couple of introductory minutes now the song changes and a structure begins to be built up with extraordinary bass lines, great drums, amazing classical piano notes which later turn into proggy keyboards, cool guitar riffs and that already mentioned violin. The sound is kind of folkish, kind of jazzy but in the end, exquisite progressive rock.

'Epsilon' is a very nice 5-minute piece that has a slow beginning but while the minutes pass more and more ingredients are being added to the saucer, creating a delicious boiling point in which a kind of nervous sound appears. Then it vanishes little by little until only keyboards sound. 'The Breath of Life' has a vertiginous piano & violin start, then several changes on time and mood appear, giving us again a nice journey. 'Moment of Eternity' has the addition of a trumpet, which together with piano and violin create a beautiful yet disarming sound. Something happens with their music, in moments I think I've been listening to them for several minutes but then I realize only one or two minutes have passed, which is why I adore their richness of sounds, textures and nuances.

'Watching the Earth' has a somber piano-bass-drums start, later guitar joins with a distorted sound creating a tense atmosphere that seconds later vanishes because a new feeling begins. It is great to see how they manage to change their sound and what that sound shares to the listeners in a split second. After 3 minutes trumpet appears again in a moment of relaxation. This live release finishes with the extraordinary 'James Port', a 16-minute epic that belongs to their debut album. My god, just as I wrote in my review of that studio album, this song is simply amazing and their live performance let us know how capable they are as composers and performers. This song is a monster, a great example of what progressive rock is, and why prog rock is still live and kicking asses.

Congrats to the band for this release, now I am eagerly waiting for their upcoming album. Enjoy it!

 War and Peace by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.92 | 117 ratings

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War and Peace
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Russian band PANDORA SNAIL was formed back in 2008, and solidified as a proper band unit from 2010 and onward. "War and Peace" is their debut album, and was released by Russian label Artbeat Music in the spring of 2015. Since then they have released the EP "Metamorphosis" and the live album "Live at Babooinumfest"

As with all music made, how much or not this debut album by Pandora Snail will be cherished will come down to the taste of the individual listening to it. Personally I rather suspect that their brand of instrumental progressive rock should find favor among a fairly broad audience in progressive rock circles, where those tend to appreciate well made and well performed eclectic progressive rock should take the time to give this album a check. In addition, those who enjoy their jazzrock just as much as their classic era Kansas appears to me to be something of a key audience for this band.

 Live at Babooinumfest by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Live, 2017
4.03 | 10 ratings

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Live at Babooinumfest
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

No prizes for working out that this is a live album, which was recorded at a festival in St. Petersburg on 6th November 2016. This was my first introduction to this eclectic progressive band, although they released a studio album in 2015, which I haven't heard. There are some interesting bands coming out of Russia at present, bringing together multiple different styles, and these guys are yet another that is totally out of left and producing something that is a million miles away from the mainstream, yet is also accessible (at least to me) and enjoyable the very first time I played it. What we have here are five people who are all incredible musicians, and have the jazz confidence in their bandmates that comes from many hours of playing together, are combining that with modern classical influences and then bringing in elements of RIO and the more complex areas of progressive rock music to create something that is refreshing and new. No Genesis clones here!

In terms of instruments we have keyboards (which is often piano), bass, drums, electric guitar and violin (plus a guest trumpeter on two songs) with no vocals. If there are boundaries in music, then these guys aren't just stretching them but are trampling them underfoot as if they don't exist. If I was to liken to them to another band then possibly After Crying, but I can also see Frank Zappa getting a real kick out of what they are doing, and would it be too much to bring Art Zoyd into the equation? It doesn't sound as if they were playing in front of a mass crowd, but those who were there were certainly provided with a musical treat. I look forward with great interest to hearing more from Pandora Snail.

 Live at Babooinumfest by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Live, 2017
4.03 | 10 ratings

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Live at Babooinumfest
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The real test for any band, Progressive or otherwise, is how well their music plays in concert, and here's a clue: it has nothing to do with being able to reproduce studio tracks note for note. The Russian group Pandora Snail gets it exactly right on their first live album, already one of the highlights of the New Year.

The gig was recorded in late 2016 in front of what sounds like a sparse but sympathetic crowd, totally appropriate for the band's intimate blend of energetic, instrumental Classical Rock. Smaller venues typically foster a stronger rapport with an audience, and the quintet responded with a dynamic performance far surpassing the expectations raised by their warmly-received debut album "War and Peace".

On stage the group sounds completely liberated from whatever inhibitions might have hindered a pleasant but (in my opinion) too-polite studio recording. Their live sound is more eclectic, and takes bigger risks in pursuit of higher rewards, at times approaching the kinetic intensity achieved by ANGLAGARD, fellow travelers along the same line of musical latitude.

Almost all the music is new too, perhaps offering a road-tested preview of the band's new studio album, currently in the works. If so, we can expect to hear some complex, clever, and hard to categorize music, driven by the agile hand of keyboardist and composer Ulyana Gor but deftly integrated within the full ensemble, playing tricky material with remarkable cohesion and skill. The only familiar track in this set is also the longest ("James Pont", at 16-minutes), and it comes across far stronger in the larger context of a live performance than it did in the studio.

The Snail is suddenly picking up speed, having released three distinct and very different albums within a brief sixteen month time span. Progressive Rock - the real thing, not the comforting nostalgia of Neo Prog - is apparently alive and well in Saint Petersburg, and Pandora Snail is quickly and quietly emerging as a local standard-bearer.

 Metamorphosis by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
3.02 | 5 ratings

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Metamorphosis
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Prog at its best is all about upsetting expectations, and here's a perfect example: surprising electronica-laced revisions of several songs from the acclaimed debut PANDORA SNAIL album "War and Peace". Talk about a change of pace: the originals were melodic fusions of Classical Rock with local Saint Petersburg Jazz accents; the new EP is more suitable for your next after-hours Ambient House rave.

Remix albums would normally be a hard sell to conservative Proggers who prefer listening with their head instead of their feet. And with good reason: the techno-grooves and critical beats of modern electronic dance music are genetically incompatible with Progressive Rock ideals, dating back to the original schism between Prog and Disco in the later 1970s.

But in truth the music here isn't far removed from some of the more blissful digressions by Ozric Tentacles. And the translation isn't merely cosmetic, with boilerplate 4/4 laptop bleeping added to the songs. Listen to the airy Edelis remix of "To Catch the Wind" and you'll hear a radical re-imagining of what had been a macho gypsy rocker, in a totally contrary vernacular: foreign to pre-millennial Progheads maybe, but completely valid on its own hardwired merits.

The old-school anchor that keeps the new music honest is the soaring violin of Artem Gareev, sounding even more lush when enhanced by the spacious echo added to these nightclub dubs. The reworking of "Mother's Tears" turns a romantic Neo-Classical ballad into an elegant, atmospheric space-groove, and the already nervous-and-jerky "Stones' Names" becomes an amped-up ethnic stomp in a pair of very different interpretations, proof that at the end of the day music is music, regardless of the pigeonholes we force it into.

In keeping with older Prog traditions the 'cover' art (for a digital download) is gorgeous, and amusing too if you think about it. Slimy gastropods aren't usually given the same aesthetic consideration as butterflies, and I suppose the same could be said for this particular style of music on a Progressive Rock website (ignoring for now the crossover charms of Björk). It's only a temporary detour while the band is prepping its second full-length album, but the EP is certainly unexpected and thus worth hearing.

My own first instinct was to politely dismiss it as little more than a fashionable novelty. But after repeated plays the music has grown on me...like a flower, not a fungus. Three bright stars, gaining luminance with each successive listen

 Live at Babooinumfest by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Live, 2017
4.03 | 10 ratings

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Live at Babooinumfest
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars This live release from this Russian band is somewhat of a preview of what the sophomore album will sound like. All but one track here is a new composition (although I don't know if every track will make the new album). The sound on this recording is very good; in particular, I love the tone of the bass. The music of Pandora Snail is instrumental and can be described as a mix of fusion and symphonic prog. The version of "James Pont" from the debut here is similar in sound but better performed than the album version. The newer tracks are generally in the same style as the debut album. Two songs specifically stand out to me: "Epsilon" and "Moment Of Eternity." The former opens with some tuned percussion (not sure if that is a glockenspiel or something similar) and a rhythm section which vaguely reminds me of the band Tortoise. Great classical styled piano playing here. In addition also some lovely emotional violin work. I like the riff/groove they get into towards the end.

"Moment Of Eternity" is one of two tracks that feature a guest trumpeter. Fast paced classical piano opens the piece, joined by some sympathetic trumpet. I love when the harder-edged synth comes in, turning the track temporarily into some kind of synth-rock. Great trumpet solo later on. Overall a nice release worthy of your attention. The album is available on Bandcamp. it will be interesting to hear how the new album will sound like. If you like modern instrumental 'eclectic prog' with an emphasis for the fusion-y as well as the symphonic, this music might be what you are looking for. I will ultimately give this a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

 Metamorphosis by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
3.02 | 5 ratings

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Metamorphosis
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Pandora Snail through the electronic glass.

Pandora Snail's "Metamorphosis", 2016, makes some gutsy move by letting some of their 2015 "War & Peace" songs go through the electronic remixing process and if anything this turn of events is daring. This alone is plaussible as it is in proportion quiet experimental and ironically will probably turn off most of those who raved over the original versions, thus in itself, it shows a true commitment to their personal evolution, free of any kind of prior attachments or compromises to external factors.

Opposite to what most non-progressive electronic followers and some other kind of prog listeners would expect or immediately assume as a direct route to young electronic dance floor music audiences, this release keeps on a healthy distance away from becoming a sell out route to success on mainstream's radio waves ( unlike, let me set as an example, Tangerine Dream's 80s, 90s and later works or YES' post "Going for the One" works or Steven Wison's popish Blackfield direction). This accomplished (opposite to those examples) by never allowing contemporary trends, their remixing processes and its fashionable gimmicks to interfere nor distort what they have already proposed, but allowing it to be deconstructed and restructured in a different plane focused on highlighting their flexibility and possibilities and not the other way around.

Now, for those original versions enthusiasts, I will hardly think this is the route Pandora Snail will follow in upcoming releases, so they should not take this EP too seriously, but should encourage this kind of uncompromising freedom in their future works.

As for rating this release, as such, I will not overrate nor underrate, therefore a respectful ***3 stars rating is quiet fair.

 War and Peace by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.92 | 117 ratings

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War and Peace
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In this increasingly fragmented digital world we share, it's reassuring to see how the Web has allowed Progressive Rock to rediscover its original grass-roots appeal, with small bands from unlikely corners of the globe now promoting their music over the world-wide aether, often (though not in this case) without even a physical CD to vend. A case in point is Pandora Snail: a (relatively) new group from northwest Russia aggressively marketing its debut album in these Archives: not a bad strategy with music that doesn't sit comfortably in a pre-fab cubbyhole.

Eclectic is the perfect word to describe their style: a relaxed but dynamic blend of instrumental, quasi-symphonic rock combining light fusion à la JEAN-LUC PONTY with moments of heavy guitar machismo and rhythmic GENTLE GIANT counterpoint. Listen closely and you might also detect a strain of native folk music, buried deep within the mix of other influences.

What you won't hear, to their credit, is the sort of self-conscious, retro-'70s artifice that defines so much of what passes for Progressive Rock these days. The band is simply playing what comes naturally to them, and making it sound easier than it actually is.

The group is a true ensemble too, with each member supporting the others and no single instrument hogging the spotlight. The electric violin of Artem Gareev is the obvious focal point, but Kirill Klyushin's nimble bass guitarmanship deserves a shout-out: check out his funky Chris Squire vs. Les Claypool break in 'To Catch the Wind'.

Other Archive reviewers, solicited as I was for an opinion but quicker on the uptake (the album was released over eight months ago, at this belated writing), have already described each track in detail. I would just add that the longest selection ('James Pont', at 16+ minutes) is also the album's weakest link, perhaps as a result of the quintet trying too hard and overreaching its grasp, always a worthwhile risk when attempting music of any real scope.

I applaud their ambition: the long suite gives the band an opportunity to show its collective chops. But the album works better when the band is indulging its natural melodic instincts (in the lovely 'By the Mountain River', and elsewhere), instead of straining toward the virtuoso complexity of RUSH or KING CRIMSON...laudable aims to be sure, but a difficult plateau to reach without a Neil Peart or Bill Bruford setting the tempo.

A nitpicker might, as a constructive criticism, also say the album was arguably too smoothly produced, to a point where even the noisy free-form coda ending 'After the War' sounds over-rehearsed. This is music calling out for a little raw energy, but the arrangements lean more toward the latter half of its Tolstoyan title: constructive peacekeeping over compelling warfare.

Excusable growing pains, maybe, for a debut recording. Otherwise, Pandora Snail (an unfortunate name by the way, possibly improved when rendered in Cyrillic hieroglyphs) is a band worth nurturing.

 War and Peace by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.92 | 117 ratings

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War and Peace
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars Forming back in 2008, Russian band Pandora Snail released one of 2015's best instrumental albums with their debut `War and Peace', a work greatly received by fans and a wide range of progressive music followers. Comprised of a mix of male and female members, the group deliver an eclectic collection of pieces that cross many prog-related styles including symphonic, jazz- fusion, classical and folk, especially standing out due to the music being constantly driven by violin. Progressive rock has a small but special tradition of artists that prominently feature violin, so Pandora Snail join the ranks of vintage bands like French symphonic romantic group Terpandre and the British female-fronted band Curved Air, and they also fit in nicely alongside modern acts that highlight the instrument such as Japanese fusion band PTF and Italian RPI'ers Progenesi amongst others.

Artem Gareev's sweeping violin weaves a memorable romantic theme in and out of opener `Dilemna', which bristles with Igor Cheridnik's skittering drumming, Kirill Klyushin's percolating bass, Oleg Gorgadze spirited acoustic guitar duels with heavier electric guitar growls, and Ulyana Gor's keyboards moving between ethereal strains and colourful energetic spirals. `By The Mountain River' is predominantly a medieval-flavoured swoon with boisterous bursts of piano and electric guitar leaping out, `To Catch the Wind' a dirty and aggressive up-tempo race with runaway piano, the thickest of puncturing bass and playful ragged electric-guitar (and even the obligatory drum solo!), and the violin throughout the jazzy `Submarine' takes on a classical dramatic stirring elegance not far from Jean-Luc Ponty.

The centrepiece of the album sure enough falls right in the middle of the disc, the almost seventeen-minute (and amusingly and not-so-subtly titled!) `James Pont'. It's a constant musical showcase for the skill of the musicians here, all given plentiful solo showcase moments whilst also revealing just how well they gel together as a group. A range of tempo and time changes smash back and forth throughout the epic, forceful and spiked with danger one moment, reflective and calming the next (and it's also frequently grooving and funky!), but it always retains a sense of flow and cohesion. Never-ending fiery electric guitar runs, buoyant bass that swallows and lunges, cooking Hammond organ and a range of keyboard colour, restrained but effective use of percussion in fleeting moments between the insanely busy drumwork, and there's even a delightful little break in the middle that strips back to just moving cascading piano and careful violin that could have been expanded even further. Perhaps little reigned-in passages that don't dart around in endless directions like this could be looked into further by the band on future albums?

`Mother's Tears' begins as a melancholic piano and violin-led reflection that turns more joyous as the rest of the band carefully joins in, `Red Rivers' is a frantic and furious Curved Air/Ponty-esque short interlude, and `Stone's Names' mixes folk thoughtfulness conveyed by soaring keyboard- driven symphonic themes (and the foot-tapping light reggae-break in the middle is just lovely!), making it one of the highlights of the album. `Dance Under The Bullets' wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Mahavishnu Orchestra album with its nimble-fingered jazz/fusion electric guitar runs, busy percussion/drumming and sprinklings of electric piano, and parts of `After The War' brood with a murky danger due to latter King Crimson-like chiming guitars and electronic drums. `Satori' is a genuinely emotional piece with warm symphonic themes constantly attacked by dominating classical piano, scratchy violin danger, imposing organ blasts, aggressive guitar and bass assaults and truly maddening drumming. The sense of expertly building atmosphere with sudden energetic diversions displayed by all the musicians on this album closer is first rate, revealing a musical maturity far beyond their young years.

If there's one slight problem with the album, it's that it is way too long (sixty-two minutes), which means re-listening to the CD in whole may become difficult. While there's nothing even close to bad on the entire disc, a few spots of sameness creep in, so perhaps a punchier vinyl length product (ie 45-50 minutes) in the future might be preferable? But there is no denying whatsoever the exceptional instrumental skill, sophisticated compositional strength and endlessly melodic ear displayed by the band on `War and Peace', made even fancier by the warm production that allows all the instruments ample room to shine. It's even more staggering to think this is Pandora Snail's first album, and it absolutely ranks as one of the best progressive-rock debut albums of the last several years, an essential purchase for fans of instrumental discs and lovers of violin-led progressive music. Well done to this talented young band with a bright future!

Five stars.

Thanks to epignosis for the artist addition.

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