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WHALEPHANT

Eclectic Prog • Russia


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Whalephant biography
Whalephant was formed in 2009 in Moscow, Russia. Led by composer, synth player, and artistic director Nikolay Inshakov, Whalephant offer a modern, contemporary take on traditional prog styles. Working with a diverse sonic palette, Whalephant have cited such influences as Pink Floyd, Bjork, King Crimson, Rush, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Sigur Ros and Yes. While elements of each of these artists can be heard in their music, Whalephant take these influences and blends them into a fresh, unique sound.

Whalephant strives to create sophisticated, intelligent music, with a degree of pop accessibility. The result is a soundtrack-like style of composing, with a dramatic flair and an intricate blend of electronic and acoustic textures. Their 2016 debut album, Kamma, is a combination of emotional instrumental works and songs driven by delicate female vocals, sung in English. With prominent synth use and extensive wind and string arrangements, in addition to the typical rock instrumentation, Whalephant is highly recommended to all fans of creative, timbre-driven music.

-Magnum Vaeltaja

Whalephant official website

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WHALEPHANT discography


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

4.05 | 16 ratings
Kamma
2016

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WHALEPHANT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Kamma by WHALEPHANT album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 16 ratings

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Kamma
Whalephant Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars One of the joys of being involved in the progressive scene for more than twenty-five years, is that I am often contacted and asked if I would like to review an album by a band I have never heard of. As I am always open to new experiences (how else would you know how delicious snails can be?), I inveterately say yes. So, this is how I came across Whalephant, yet another progressive band hailing from Russia. I can remember when coming across a Russian progressive act was quite a rare event, especially pre-internet, but these days the scene seems to be exploding over there, and what I find particularly of great interest is the way that they often refuse to conform to what many people view as 'progressive', both in terms of the music they play and the instruments they use to do it.

I had a look at their website, but given it's all in Russian it may as well be Greek as I don't comprehend it, but it is possible to stream the album, watch some videos and also look at their official press photos, which show a seven person line-up. According to Bandcamp, the line-up is Nickolay Inshakoff (composer, sound producer, violin, keyboards and synthesizers), Ilia Yartsev (clarinet, synthesizers), Veronika Chagrina (guitars), Dmitry Sokolov (bass), Anna Kuryachaya (drums), Ekaterina Bakanova (vocals), Elizaveta Yartseva (violins, violas), Aleksey Zlenko (cello), Ivan Shcherbakov (didjeridoo) and Ivan Kalugin (vocals) (I know that's more than seven, but what can I say?). Yes, there is quite a mix of things going on in there. There is also a statement from the band that reads 'We hope that everyone will find himself and his story in it, notice allusions and reminders inside the track and the album as a whole. Do not look for religious or political overtones - they are not there. Listen with your heart. Immerse yourself in the soundtrack to your dreams and thoughts. Take a walk with us on your own mind'.

In many ways I find myself being reminded of Roz Vitalis, and given how highly I think of them that certainly isn't a bad thing, as they bring the kitchen sink into their style of eclectic progressive rock. Another band that springs to mind is iamthemorning, yet another Russian act that are refusing to conform to any pre-conceived ideas. Whalephant have long instrumental passages, but also have some beautiful accentless female vocals, and musically the band melds and flows so that the instruments and even the number of those playing them can vary immensely from song to song. This is very much an album for the listener to lose themselves inside, and is one that is all the better for being concentrated on by using headphones.

Yet another wonderful debut album, from a band that need discovering and heard by a much wider audience.

 Kamma by WHALEPHANT album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 16 ratings

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Kamma
Whalephant Eclectic Prog

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars Whalephant is a Russian group based in Moscow and founded in 2009. The group is lead by composer Nikolay Inshakov and this is their debut album. Mostly instrumental, some songs have a female lead vocalist singing in English. The style on this album is a mix of symphonic, electronic, jazz and folk. There are the usual keyboards/drums/guitars but also strings, clarinet and what sounds like the Australian instrument the didgeridoo. Lots of great instrumental work, some of the vocal-oriented tracks are generally accessible and almost single-like. The title track opens the album with atmospheric synths. Eventually piano, arpeggioed guitars and bass take over before switching to an almost prog metal vibe.

"Windrose" is a moody, classical inspired piece. It builds in instrumentation and intensity. Nice synth solo almost halfway. Over halfway an emotional guitar solo backed by great bass playing. "On The Wing" has a nice groove to it. Good melodies as well. The highlight of the album very well may be "Daskuul." This has a great symphonic/electronic opening. Bass comes in being doubled by synths. Nice atmosphere to this track with great playing. Wordless female vocals come in over halfway. "Stay" is based on a funky riff. One of the songs featuring the operatic vocals of Ekaterina Bakanova.

"Childhood" features a children's choir, singing in Russian I believe. Musically it based mainly on piano and strings/wind instruments. Drums show up later; at first pounding, then later playing a beat. The sound and production on this album is really well done. Very good performances of interesting material. This is available on Bandcamp. I will give this 4 stars.

 Kamma by WHALEPHANT album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 16 ratings

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Kamma
Whalephant Eclectic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Once again I was asked by Nikols, russian├??├?┬┤s prog scene most enthusiastic promoter, to review a new band from that country. As usually, I was quite curious and eager because I knew it would be something of high caliber, as everything he sent to me generally is. I was not disappointed. Whalephant, with all its complexity, won me over from the first listening. Kamma is the very first release from this oddly named ensemble led by composer, synth player, and artistic director Nikolay Inshakov, and already is a winner. What we have here is a very difficult to label work, mixing several different styles of music with great expertise and delicacy. The result is both original and familiar: a very unlike mix of atmospheric, avant guard, new age, jazz, rock, folk, symphonic prog, heavy guitars, minimalist music and much more. Eclectic prog indeed! What binds it all together is a great sense of melody and balance making the music inside very interesting and pleasant all the way around.

The music is mostly instrumental, but when the vocals come in they work so well you can├??├?┬┤t really figure it without them. Ekaterina Bakanova (vocals and lyrics) has a very nice voice and a great emotional interpretation that fits very well inside the overall concept fo the CD. It├??├?┬┤s almost impossible to compare Whalephant to any other group or genre, for the music here is quite unique, with interesting use of diverse instrumentation and arrangements. One song is very different from the other and still they all have a unifying connection that works on the entire album, making a listening to Kamma a very compelling trip, with diverse mood swings and changes, like all prog albums should be. Although it is clear that all the musicians involved are skillful there is no unnecessary displays of virtuosity, neither endless noodling. it├??├?┬┤s music for music sake: you get the impression that all the notes are right and there, like a masters (musical) painting. There are no weak tracks, and neither are any highlight, for all the tunes are different, but excellent, with impeccable performances of all involved. And everything here gets helped by a state of art production.

If you like more laid back, melodic prog, with strong jazz and ambient music leanings, or good music in general, you cannot miss this one.

Another great find from Russia, with love. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4,5 stars.

 Kamma by WHALEPHANT album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 16 ratings

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Kamma
Whalephant Eclectic Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Whalephant is one of the newer additions to the ever-growing Russian prog family. And from this initial offering, "Kamma", it seems to me that these younger brothers and sisters have certainly inherited a wealth of valuable heirlooms, and are no doubt well-suited to continue on the family legacy.

Indeed, the band's national identity shines through strongly; when I listen to "Kamma", fellow countrymen Pandora Snail and Roz Vitalis come to mind. Eloquent, elaborate, and emotional compositions with a diverse portfolio of instrumental sounds, and a strong art rock ethos. And, as with their contemporaries, the music is delivered with an almost paradoxical combination of bleak melancholy and hopeful optimism. Indeed, all of the elements that make today's Russian prog scene so beautiful and fascinating to delve into are prominently on display here. That isn't to say that they're a cookie-cutter pastiche of their contemporaries, however - not at all! Whalephant have a truly innovative take on modern music that helps to separate themselves from the crowd.

So let's talk about "Kamma". "Kamma" spans just a little over an hour and is an assortment of different musical ideas. The album covers vast tracts of territory, but never feels academic, or too complex for its own good. Indeed, as a paragraph on Whalephant's bandcamp page reads, "... We hope that everyone will find it in themselves and their own history, notice the allusions and reminders within a track or an entire album. Do not look for religious or political implications - they are not there. Listen to your heart. Immerse yourself in the soundtrack to dreams and thoughts. Take a walk with us on their own consciousness... " (translation courtesy of google). As the band's message would suggest, this is a very emotive album. Hints of nostalgia permeate the compositions and, although the album is often dark in nature, there's a certain warmth to its delivery. I feel that this is hinted at quite well with the album cover. While it initially seems mysterious, with the black background and obscured text, the hands (whose might they be?) seem to be reaching out to you in an invitation of sorts, a gesture of friendship.

So, with all that in mind, just what can you expect to hear on "Kamma"? As I mentioned before, Whalephant's approach is every bit as ambitious as the other eclectic acts to come out of Russia recently. Chamber rock, electronica, post-rock, ambient music, traditional symphonic prog, and various combinations and permutations of all of these can be heard to varying degrees throughout the album. Much of the band's magic is created by the interweaving electronic and acoustic textures, with bandleader Nickolay Inshakov's synthesizers playing alongside a range of different instruments, including guitar, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, and even didgeridoo! "Kamma" consists of both instrumentals and songs, sung beautifully by lead singer Ekaterina Bakanova as well as a range of guest vocalists, including a full choir at times. In all, Whalephant presents a full and diverse blend of sound that seems eccentric, but always stays cohesive.

Ultimately, "Kamma" is a fantastic collection of musical ideas and shows a band that's destined for great things. The album never seems to lose focus, and there's always something new to discover whenever you put it on. I hope to hear more from Whalephant in the future, because this is really top-shelf stuff. 4 stars; this is an excellent buy for any modern prog fan!

Thanks to epignosis for the artist addition.

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