This is a challenging album for me to review. There is no denying the talent of the Russian duo iamthemorning. The issue for me is that they are not a style of music that I listen to or really like. So it becomes a situation where I need to be more than an listener and be a prog advocate. But it’s not easy.
iamthemorning are at their best when they are accompanied by a full band. While I appreciate that they are a duo, when it’s just the two of them, the music feels more like a demo to me. Even adding additional layers of strings, percussion and harps on a track like “Belighted” adds more depth and richness to their sound.
One of my favorite tracks is “Harmony” which has plenty of melody and a full band sound. It just works for me better than say a track like “Sleeping Pills” which is aptly named. Then there’s the dichotomy of the title track which does have Riverside frontman Mariusz Duda. The problem is he doesn’t show up until the last minute of the track when the song gets interesting.
“Chalk and Coal” is an odd track which partially works for me, but the odd whispering is a bit annoying. The song kicks in with a full band which sounds great. I really love the trumpet solo on this track. Musically, the band cross a few genres from jazz to folk to chamber music. Pianist Gleb Kolyadin is a phenomenal player who can play all of these styles and make them work with Marjana Semkina beautiful voice.
Semkina is bound to get compared to Tori Amos and Kate Bush but she reminds me a lot of Canadian avant-garde folk singer Veda Hille. Her tone is very similar and even the quirky nature of some of the tracks on “Lighthouse” could fit in with Hille’s material.
I like that the band has called upon people like Gavin Harrison and Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree to fill out their sound from time to time. I do wish Mariusz Duda was on the entire title track versus being tacked onto the end of it. “Lighthouse” is sure to please fans who love quality piano driven prog rock. While the album is not for me, I know there are people out there with far better taste than me!
1. I Came Before the Water (pt. I)
2. Too Many Years
3. Clear Clearer
4. Sleeping Pills
5. Libretto Horror
6. Lighthouse (feat. Mariusz Duda)
10. Chalk And Coal
11. I Came Before the Water (pt. II)
12. Post Scriptum