Artist: Gleb Kolyadin
Album: Gleb Kolyadin
Gleb Kolyadin is known as the pianist and other half of the Russian duo, iamthemorning, which also includes vocalist Marjana Semkina. After three albums together, Kolyadin has finally made his self-titled solo debut, which includes contributions by many familiar names from the progressive rock scene. His initial Indiegogo campaign for the album didn’t reach its goal, but Kscope came to the rescue and released the record.
I’m familiar with iamthemorning’s latest album, Lighthouse (2016), and I find its mix of classical piano, complex rhythms, and Semkina’s gorgeous vocals intriguing. Therefore, I decided to check out Kolyadin’s solo effort to see what he could do without his songstress pair.
Listen on Spotify here:
Kolyadin’s album is naturally an instrumental outing for the most part. He’s got Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree (who played on the aforementioned Lighthouse) on drums and Nick Beggs from Steven Wilson’s band on bass, which sets a great backbone for his virtuoso piano playing. Most likely due to the mainly instrumental nature of the music, there’s more of a jazz fusion vibe here than in iamthemorning’s music. It’s possibly strongest on the playful opening track, “Insight”, and the groovy “The Room”, both of which feature Theo Travis (another Steven Wilson collaborator) on saxophone. Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess also makes an appearance, and his instantly recognizable lead tone and Beggs’s low bass add a modern touch into “Storyteller.”
As for the singers, the album features Mick Moss of Antimatter and Steve Hogarth of Marillion. The Moss-sung “Astral Architecture” is one of the album’s highlights, and it’s cool to hear Moss singing in a different environment, since he tends to write guitar-driven music in his main band and his voice complements Kolyadin’s piano well. Hogarth’s contribution to “Confluence” is limited to a spoken word passage, but “The Best of Days” is a good closer, and his unique vocal lines work nicely on top of the music. The inclusion of different vocalists also makes you notice how differently they approach things: Moss’s subdued voice meshes with the music, and he doesn’t try to draw a lot of attention to himself, whereas Hogarth’s forceful singing is more of a focal point, and he takes his space effectively.
There are some recurring themes within the album, as “Kaleidoscope” (a shoutout to the record label?) offers a faster and jazzier variation of the beautiful main melody of “White Dawn”, and “Eidolon” and “Into the Void” (nope, not a Black Sabbath cover) form a similar pair, with the former serving as a quieter introduction to the latter. However, not all the tracklist choices are successful: “Constellation / The Bell” smells like a filler track with its opera vocals, while “Echo / Sigh / Strand” and “Penrose Stairs” have quite similar crescendo endings and are back-to-back in the track order to boot, which makes the album a bit of a blur at that point.
Gleb Kolyadin is an undeniably talented pianist and composer, but I personally prefer the tracks with guests and the short and mellow tunes to the more intense numbers where there are a lot of fast piano runs. Although I believe the Russian virtuoso is at his best while working with Semkina in his main project, songs like “Insight” are an obligatory addition to my playlist of jazzy material to enjoy while chilling out.
Rating: 7½/10, 3½ stars
2. Astral Architecture
3. White Dawn
6. Into the Void
7. The Room
9. Constellation the Bell
10. Echo Sigh Strand
11. Penrose Stairs
13. The Best of Days