Tracklist: Cold (4:20), The Wood Cutter (3:14), Give A Glance (2:41), Through The Love (2:48), The Thunderstorm Is Coming (4:53), The Mist (4:11), Termites (6:00), Minute (3:55), Jackdaws (4:21), Three Colors (6:55)
Admittedly, Russia is one country where my knowledge of progressive rock is near to nil, bar a few bands. Thus the album Between Two Mirror's was received with eager anticipation and I must admit to have been pleasantly surprised. The band has been around for about three years or so and is composed of Evgeniy Goerlov (keyboards, vocals), Irina Yunakovskaya (cello), Mihail Voronov (lead guitar), Mihail Brovarnik (bass) and Yuriy Smolnikov (rhythm guitar, vocals). Stylistically the band describe themselves as a progressive rock/ambient band, a description that could be attributed to them though one could also add that there is an element of alternative rock that forms an integral part of their style.
Being Russian, the vocals are also sung in Russian and though this could be a drawback to those who like to focus on the lyrical content of an album, the language does not form any barrier to the enjoyment of the album. In fact Gorelov's vocals are carried out in an almost narrative style that blends in with the mysterious and dark nature of the music. Furthermore, my impression of former Eastern block bands is their attempt to re-create the sound of the seventies by rehashing material that sound so much like various other classical bands. However, Romislokus have managed to create an alternative and new style, that could still be attributed to various influences, though they manage to sound so very fresh and different.
From the opening track, Cold, one realises that the band place a lot of importance on the ambient sound created by the keyboards. Sometimes the music does tend to hark back to the kraut-rock days of bands such as Can and Kraftwerk, and possibly the reason for the song being called Cold was the very fact that much of the works by these greats was described as being too cold and calculated. Furthermore the use of the keyboard effects, and the occasional drum machine, does at times remind me of a latter day Depeche Mode and even Talk Talk, especially on the The Wood Cutter.
With Give A Glance the band start to come out of their shell of what seems to be calculated and somewhat over-cautious music. Not that there is a radical change in the programming, yet the addition of the cello to the whole musical aura gives the track a much wider listening range. Whereas with various other prog-bands such a diversion occurs via a guitar and sometimes a violin solo, Romislokus introduce a rich cello sound which further adds to the overall melancholy as well depth of the band's sound.
At times the band do try bands such as U2 in their adaptation of computer enhanced effects that are merged together with their rock sound as happens on The Thunderstorm Is Coming, though it is with The Mist that the album suddenly takes a turn towards a darker and moodier approach. The sound has a Goth-like touch to it reminding me at times of bands such as Paradise Lost as various effects are merged in with the increasingly harder edged guitar work.
As the rest of the album remains within the same ambient soundscape with Floydian surroundings amidst Eno-esque effects and at times Van Morrisonian vocalisations, we come to the closing number, Three Colours, which is in my opinion the highlight of the album. This track explores all the musical avenues that were portrayed on this album with the addition of some harrowing female vocals that further add to the dramaticity of the band's music.
Between Two Mirror's is not your normal run of the mill progressive rock album with lengthy solos and complex time signatures. However the modus operandi of this band with the delicate introduction of various instruments as the cello make this album a must for those who like the rather more subtle side of progressive rock such as bands like After Crying and possibly even Brian Eno. Don't let the fact that the lyrics are in Russian discourage you as the way they are executed allows them to blend in perfectly with the music of the album.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10.