Monday, October 25, 2010
Review: Roz Vitalis - Compassionizer (2007)
I heard of Roz Vitalis before but never had the chance to listen to their music. This latest release is the first I get to hear and I was looking forward to this, since what I read mostly got me intrigued about them. Roz Vitalis began in 2001 in Saint-Petersburg and have since self-released 4 studio albums, two EP’s and one live release. Compassionizer is their fifth studio album. I got a promotional copy of this album, and am glad to have this opprtunity to explore this band's music and to be able to promote it here and in other places online.
The back of the album cover says: “The goal of this concept album is to unmask and reveal the spiritual evil of the modern humanity’s materialist vainglory”. Well, I for one would have composed something entirely different, but that’s what great about music, is that you can hear the sound of other people’s thoughts, views and way of life. The album in general has a quirky, otherworldly sound to it, which is why I don’t necessarily link the music with the said concept behind it, but their idea is as good and valid as any other.
A point of reference could be (early) Art Zoyd and at times even Univers Zero (and the composers who influenced those bands as well) but only as a general guiding idea of the style of music. In some tracks I even hear traces (stripped down and bare) of Industrial (Wakatte Kudasai and Annihilator Of mortal Hazard for instance) and Electronic music (for example, Autumn Of Hypocrisy) which might be more pronounced in their earlier releases. The music is keyboards based and lead with electronic drumming, and while there’s a guitar in this particular album, it does not pronounce its presence too much. At other times, the music (like in the very beginning of Tragic Fate) can be a spacey drive which then strays away into the experimental and dynamic side which is the dominant aspect of the music here. At other times, there’s a heavy dosage of electronic music which gives this perhaps a colder sound that fits what the concept of the album, for instance in Autumn Of Hypocrisy, in which it this particular sound represents well what I perceive to represent cynicism and insincerity like in the title. But in fact this “colder” sound gives a contradiction to other parts in which there’s “warmer” parts. Other parts (Compassionizer) are more sinister sounding, giving a better idea of what they want us to realize during our listening to the album. It’s also one place where the dark sound of Univers Zero might come to mind, but just as an impression, not due to a similar tune being played. In general, the sound that they deliver is rather gloomy and conjures up images of loneliness to me, but not as dark as those two bands mentioned above. This is in part due to the choice of instruments and their sound and to how the music is performed – the music guided by the keyboards which change sound from time to time in accordance with the mood Roz Vitalis want to create. The resulting sound is not as full and jam- packed as those other band’s music is (a good example for such a “full” sounding album would be Yugen’s Labirinto Dacqua, which I love by the way); it leaves some “empty space” for resonance and for us to absorb it more easily perhaps (if that makes any sense). The music roams around freely, and yet it has defined structure and theme, and moves forward and isn’t experimental for the sake of experimentalism, but for the sake of creating something different. While there is a chance that the recording may annoy people who don’t like the use of samplers to create the vast instrumentation presented here (there’s only 3 musicians but it sounds like there’s more), I personally find them to be well done, and that part of the charm of this album, is this exact characteristic. I think that there’s a good variation of sounds and “instruments” represented to keep the listener interested and focused. For me, the music itself manages to overcome any issue that may come up from the fact I just mentioned (plus, I think it’s done well and is not displeasing to my ears). I think they managed to create their own original sound, with some nods to their influences.
What I can say is that this album has made me want to listen to their other albums as well. It is intriguing, explorative, with a weird and somewhat gloomy atmosphere (like I love it) and what matters most to me, enjoyable and makes me want to listen to it again. Not mind blowing, or a must have album, but definitely an album I feel is worth my music listening time and one that I will come back to listen to. A journey album.
You can download a free compilation of theirs from 2009 here.