Friday, June 21, 2024

Gleb Kolyadin – The Outland

Alongside Marjana Semkina, Gleb Kolyadin is one half of the Russian duo iamthemorning. In the band, she sings but he’s a pianist of considerable renown and repute, as well as being a producer and arranger who mixes up classical music with jazz fusion and also with a prog sensitivity brought to bear. That he’s highly regarded can be seen in the names of the stellar musicians who’ve contributed to his solo albums, as well as him being voted top keyboard player by the readers of Prog magazine in 2020 and 2021.

The Outland of the title represents “a world within a world, assembled from its disparate fragments”. The idea for this album arose during the pandemic when, along with millions of others, Gleb Kolyadin found himself feeling claustrophobic from being unable to mix with others, so he took this feeling and converted it into an album, describing his introspective approach as “creating new worlds in my head, as a way of being able to escape”. If Leonard Cohen represents lyrical melancholia, Gleb Kolyadin could be said to represent the musical equivalent on piano.

This is a wholly instrumental album, six pieces of music with the piano largely front and centre but, on other tracks, guitar, drums and clarinet are noticeable. He’s also employed all kinds of textures, melodies and used technology to create a quite enjoyable ‘whole’. There’s little doubting the overall quality of the music offered up .. on every track, the playing from everyone involved is superb and Kolyadin is a virtuoso, easily capable of being placed alongside Wakeman and Emerson, is a given.

But a special mention must go to top prog drummer, Gavin Harrison who, on tracks like the ten-minute opener ‘Voyager,’ which is part easy listening, part prog and part jazz, and also Mercurial, lays down some superb drum fills, keeping time and pace with the complex patterns weaved by Kolyadin. He allows his imagination to roam on ‘Cascades,’ which is mostly a solo piece with some gorgeous runs on the keys with Kolyadin utilising his full range of skills on the piano on what is a very atmospheric piece. ‘Apparatus’ is probably the rockiest track with guitars in the background, and ‘Hermitage’ has touches of mid-career Mike Oldfield, with the piece really coming alive when the choir joins in.

In summary, The Outland contains plenty of beautiful pieces of music but, as good as the music is, I’m not certain this is an album which will stand up to repeated listens.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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Alongside Marjana Semkina, Gleb Kolyadin is one half of the Russian duo iamthemorning. In the band, she sings but he’s a pianist of considerable renown and repute, as well as being a producer and arranger who mixes up classical music with jazz fusion and...Gleb Kolyadin - The Outland