Roz Vitalis — The Hidden Man of the Heart
(Lizard 0136, 2018, CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2018-08-26
I am slowly discovering new Russian bands and music, at least new to me, and I am impressed with what I am hearing. The latest is Roz Vitalis, a band from St. Petersburg that has been around since 2001. They have quite an extensive discography, at least 26 releases, many of which can be downloaded for free from Bandcamp. Their newest release is The Hidden Man of the Heart, a concept album about the different spiritual and creative aspects of man and how they interact in various and sometimes strange ways. Each aspect can be thought of as The Hidden Man of the Heart. The fourteen instrumentals are a complex interweaving of classical music and undefinable progressive rock. The core members of Roz Vitalis are Valdimir Efimov (guitar), Alexey Gorshkov (trumpet and guitar), Ruslan Kirilov (bass guitar), Ivan Rozmainsky (keyboards), Philip Semenov (drums), and Vladimir Semenov-Tyan-Shansky (guitar). They are joined by guest musicians Danila Danilov (synthesizers), Yury Khomonenko (percussion), Mark Makarov (mandolin), Leonid Perevalov (bass clarinet), and the Les-Quartet (Long Fam (violin), Valeriya Kondratyeva (violin), Vyacheslav Agabekov (viola), and Sofiya Deynekina (cello)). The album opens with the cello playing a sad solo with the rest of the quartet joining in on the leitmotiv that is then taken up by the full band on subsequent tracks. Roz Vitalis employs this same approach for each “hidden man.” The string quartet pieces “Someone Passed Over,” “Trampled by the Lion and Adder,” “Wounded by the Lion and the Adder,” and “Some Refugees Passed Over” plus the two solo piano pieces “Passing on the Line” and “Disturbed by the Jungle” are exquisite neoclassical compositions. And the other eight tracks feature a range of progressive rock from gothic / spaghetti western, dissonant / sinister experiments, to gorgeous near symphonic rock with cathedral organ. In addition to the classical music tracks, the other stand out tracks are “Jungle Waltz,” “The Hidden Man of the Heart,” and the album closer “Psalm 6.” The Hidden Man of the Heart has got to be in the top ten albums of 2018, as Roz Vitalis’ music is universal and will appeal to even the most jaded prog head.
Related artist(s): Roz Vitalis
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