Magadan
(Still Life)
2015
Crank this to 8.9 of 11
Genre:
Progressive rock
Sounds Like:
The Tea Party, Flotsam and Jetsam, Spock's Beard
Ironic indeed... the obscure wanting to be more obscure while leaving little if no trail of information so as to force a mystical aura yet advertise the mystique to try and drum up an interest to increase their popularity in a roundabout way. Ok... Confusing we know. After scouring the internet in an attempt to find more information about these guys we came up way short. Somehow we stumbled upon brilliant creator Xan Romanov whom we had to eek information out of.

"Originally formed just outside of Saint Petersburg, Florida, Magadan distinguished itself via its musicianship and aloofness towards the prevailing styles, gaining a degree of respect if not necessarily fame. Periodically emerging to perform, vanishing without a trace, appearing again with a new line up, only to seemingly vaporize once more, the band almost seemed to relish being a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." The fate of the Floridian line up is uncertain, given the tumultuous events of the past few years, but their unabashed, bombastic prog rock is safely preserved within Still Life's grooves and continues to churn in the brain of founder and eternal dear leader Xan Romanov, and his promises of a "Glorious Future!!"

Track Listing:
1. Monsoon Overture (5:05)
2. Monsoon, Pt. I (5:49)
3. Monsoon, Pt. II (6:04)
4. Monsoon, Pt. III (8:04)
5. Monsoon, Pt. IV (5:08)
6. The Forest Of Szczek (9:51)
7. Brave The New World (27:09)
Total Time 67:10

The first thirty minutes of concept work that make up the "Monsoon" tracks are no less than spectacular. Splashes of Russian and Middle Eastern influences throughout become the backbone of what forms a diverse and expansive journey. Magadan is patient with their change-ups and do a nice job letting the songs germinate into their own. Overall the arrangements are very well thought out and the instrumental tangents are engrossing and quite natural. While the guitar work is impressive so is the accompaniment strengthened by cello, violin, piano, flute and the meandering balalaika. Impressive melodies resurface periodically accentuating that concept feel.

We do hit a little blip in the road once the "The Forest Of Szczek" hits. Ok maybe not just a blip but perhaps a temporary derailing during the first two minutes. The vocals become a bit over-exposed and we totally lose that 'otherworldly' feel that "Monsoon" brought us. Things get back on track only temporarily with exceptional violin work but then quickly fall off again with the resurfaced over dramatic vocals. To be blunt this track cost the album an Editor's Pick.

The 27 minute closer "Brave The New World" features some very inspiring themes along some very poignant melodies. There are some abrupt and bizarre change-ups. We love the acoustic Latino interlude that morphs back into darker themes. There is almost too much going on with this track to do it justice. We hear Rush and Dream Theater influences but even more striking is the homage to The Tea Party whether intentional or not. At about the 18 minute mesmerizing female vocals lift the track up even further. Certainly enough diversity here to engage fans beyond the progressive rock realm.

Line-up:
Xan Romanov: Guitar, Violin, Balalaika, Piano, Vocals
Sasha Romanov: Choirmistress, Cello
Joe Bie: Choirmaster
Aaron Elsasser: Percussion
Georges Gallandre-Lebhar: Bass
  
Special guests:
Chris Denny: 1st guitar solo (6)
Jean Sullivan: Vocals (3)
Sara Bordanova: Flute

We are excited to have stumbled upon Magadan. Still Life is an impressive work that must have taken a boatload of energy and time to put together. While they may be the obscure of the obscure with a somewhat convoluted past, we highly encourage you to pick this one up. 4/27/2016

Standout Tracks: Monsoon (Parts 1-5)
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