infamous sophomore slump: what can be made of it? Why do bands debut with such
fire and passion, but suddenly veer off course in sometimes epic fashion?
Iamthemorning has not done this. Yes, it was a fear of mine, but this Russian
two-piece has managed to stay my fears with a mature work of art. In fact, I
would say that they have exceeded my expectations.
don't know about Iamthemorning, the bands consists of Marjana Semkina and Gleb
Kolyadin, true artists and lovers of all things real and heartfelt. Marjana
lends her angelic vocals while Gleb's masterful grand piano and keyboards are a
strong foundation. On their first album "~", these two mesmerized with strong
melodies, simple songs, and a hefty amount of neoclassical influence. Indeed, it
was what I needed to hear at the time, as I fell in love with Marjana's
brilliantly honest, emotional style and Gleb's ridiculous skill. Their combined,
contrasting artistry is heavily felt, even in their production design.
Naturally, then, I was hoping for a continuation of all this on their upcoming
release "Belighted", snatched up by none other than Kscope.
what an interesting title. It literally means "in a state of spiritual and
intellectual exaltation", and so I think this is an excellent hint at what this
album is all about. Marjana gives her all in her vocal performance here. Her
self-taught style is easily the highlight of the album, and her mastery of hooks
(very difficult ones at times) never stops impressing me. But it's not just her
vocal skill that impresses, it's the nature way in which she sings about very
personal and intriguing, disturbing topics. She often seems very cold in her
approach, yet only in a way that seems like a thinly-veiled cover for a plethora
of very human emotions, from dissatisfaction and despair to hope and love. She
maintains a delicate balance between vocal brilliance and fragility, especially
on "Romance", "To Human Misery", "The Simple Story", and "Crowded Corridors",
and this simply intrigues me.
instrumentation on "Belighted" is equally arresting. Gleb astounds (as usual)
with his elegant grand piano, creating atmospheres of sophistication and
intelligence. A huge list of collaborators, including Gavin Harrison, have given
use of their skills here, too, and it really shows. Iamthemorning, while still
retaining some of their signature chamber sound, have decided to use a wider
selection of instruments, utilizing electric guitars and ambient keys, too. You
might be saying, "So what?" Well, for this neoclassical band that normally drove
their music with the use of piano and violins, it's a big difference. Right off
the bat, "The Howler" announces the presence of distortion with a subtle and
addictive guitar lick that blends perfectly with the swirling acoustic
instruments. Later on, in "Crowded Elevators", a whispering, ambient guitar adds
touches of mystery to the music. As you can see, while they use some standard
instruments, they use them in very Iamthemorning ways.
small taste is an indication of the attitude present in this album.
Iamthemorning, for better or worse, sounded very much the same from beginning to
end in their debut album. As good as it was, it still explored the same sounds
and ideas over and over again. "Belighted", however, shows the band's commitment
to progress and maturation. Surrounded by their signature (and brilliant)
instrumental intermissions, their main tracks are very different from each
other. Like precious jewels, some are guitar driven, some are vocally dominated,
some are dark, some are uplifting, and others have incredibly complex
structures. "5/4", one of my favorites, showcases a carnival-esque, swirling
melody that rises only once, and it's enough to leave you begging to hear the
track again. This happens quite often in this album, and I'm afraid that, as a
result, I can't really choose a favorite track. I would point to "The Howler",
"To Human Misery", "Romance", "5/4", "Crowded Corridors", and "Light/No Light"
as my favorites, and I appreciate them more every time I hear them.
is often like a big teaser. It draws you back for more, and it absolutely
requires 5 or 6 listens to appreciate (in addition to a big, sensitive sound
system). I was speaking to Marjana about how I fall in love with this album a
little more each time I hear it, and she was adamant about the fact that this
album is meant to require time and persistence in order to grasp it fully. I
have fallen head first into this world of invention, creativity, and pure
beauty, and it has easily become one of my favorite albums of the year. "Belighted"
is a monument to progression, art, human emotion, and deep storytelling that
shouldn't be missed, and I certainly think many prog "veterans" could learn from
this young band. With inspiring elegance, passion, vulnerability, and hope,
Iamthemorning has ventured forth to present their work to the world, and I hope
people will give it the time and accolades that it deserves.