Vespero - Sonĝo

9 songs
59:09 minutes
***** ****


South Russian band Vespero has now been around for nearly two decades, and depending on how you count, they have released in that time a dozen studio albums, or even more than two dozen, if you count also demos, live recordings and collaborative efforts. In the beginning, they self-published their music, then signed on to Russian indie labels and have recently even made it to the German space rock label Tonzonen, who will also release Sonĝo. If you wonder what the strange accent sign on the letter g means: itís dream in Esperanto, just like their band name is Esperanto for evening.

On Sonĝo, Vespero are acting in a somewhat more sedate fashion. The total freak-out space rock outbursts are now a thing of the past. The quintet has evolved and matured over the years, and repeated listening to their new album shows that the psychedelic space rock origins have been augmented by elements of fusion jazz, Russian folk and progressive rock. The quintet still consists of the Fedotov brothers Ivan and Arkady taking care of the rhythm section (bass and drums), Alexander Kuzovlev on guitars, saz and mandoline, Alexey Klabukov handling all kinds of keyboards and synthesizers, and Vitaly Borodin being a violin wizard but occasionally also playing the accordion. Sonya Vlasova adds some floating female moans and wails that procure an ethnic flair. Another guest is Alexey Esin who performs on gusli (an ancient East Slavic multi-string plucked instrument) and midi-sax.

The titles of the mostly instrumental and lyric-less songs come in many different languages: English, Esperanto, French, Bulgarian, Estonian and Galician, and itís most the idea of naming songs in little spoken languages that sets Vespero off any geographical map but rather puts them into their own supranational sonic landscape. The album has been fantastically and intricately illustrated by Marat Dzhamaletdinov, who also provided an artwork for every song.

The opener Ne enlitiĝu ĉe la maro is at three and a half minutes the albumís shortest piece and sets the mood for what is to follow, best shown on the following Lebedivo, a melancholic progressive space rock piece with the violin injecting a fusion jazz element reminiscent of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, while the vocals give it all an enchanted fairy tale atmosphere. Le Papillon ou moi is another incredibly sad piece of music, which makes sense when you consider that no other country masters melancholy as skilfully as Russia. Most songs are about seven minutes long, and give you ample opportunity to dive headfirst into their dreamscapes that may not be as fiercely rocking as in the past, but are so full of beauty and intricacy that you will enjoy every second of this hour long journey. We can only wonder where Vespero will be taking us the next time.

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