Is Gleb Kolyadin (of the chamber-pop duo iamthemorning) trying to revive the somewhat dusty art of instrumental prog rock mixed with jazz and classical, like Keith Emerson, Mike Oldfield or Ian Anderson? What is certain is that, accompanied by Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree / King Crimson) on drums and Tony Levin (King Crimson / Peter Gabriel) on double bass, among others, he announces his ‘progressive’ intentions from the outset. But whether he consciously tries or not, he brings a certain air of freshness to the genre.
Where Kolyadin was lyrical and almost classical on iamthemorning, he shatters that sound world on The Outland. Drums, guitar and bass proudly take their place and propel the music forward, energising it effectively. Saxo, marimba, flute and clarinet add delightful colours and textures. A few passages drenched in strings flesh out the whole affair, giving it a hint of Hagood Hardy (but not too much). The Outland is thus very different from his previous solo album, Water Movements, which sailed weightlessly in very soaring, strictly pianistic waters. Instead, The Outland should be compared to his very first solo album, self-titled and released in 2018. It featured some of his current collaborators, such as Gavin Harrison and Vlad Avy. The Outland differs from its older sibling, however, in that it is more symphonic in scope and has less pronounced references to classical piano. In both cases, though, the harmonies are luminous and undeniably recapture a certain optimism that tended to emanate from this musical genre created in the years (1960-1970) when the future held all sorts of benevolent hopes. And yes, in the current socio-political climate, that might even be useful and do us some good.