Pesniary - Gusliar
Click on the album cover to hear a sample
Pesniary, from what I've been able to learn, started out as a traditional folk band in Belarus in the early 70s. As time went on, their music began to grow in complexity. And by the time Gusliar was released in 1980, the 10-piece ensemble was fully involved creating LP-lengthed progressive rock epics. Gusliar is just one 36-minute track made-up of dozens of sub-sections. The album was inspired by Yanka Kupala's poem "Barrow", which has been a source of inspiration for many composers in Belarus, but the music, to these ears, sounds like it could have come out of the Italian progressive rock, and soundtrack(Ennio Morricone), scene around 1976. The band, as I mentioned, was rather large. Along with the usual guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards we find violin, a horn section, and several vocalists. Most of the music builds melodically, and emotionally, similar to early Italian prog bands Banco, PFM, and Blocco Mentale. But there are several sections that seem influenced by Jesus Christ Superstar. Those sections have a 1970s "broadway" sort of vibe, and I have to warn that one section in particular is so cheesy that it reminded me of some of the music featured in the American play Rent. Fortunately, this section only lasts about a minute or so(but the composer should have thrown it right in the garbage). Many sections during the epic sound similar to the orchestral music found on Banco's Di Terra, and Alusa Fallax's Intorno Alla Mia Cattiva Educazione. The music features classical-sounding interaction between horns, piano, synths, bass, and drums. The vocals are usually either done solo(by various male voices), as a choir(both male and female), and accappela. One of the choir section reminded me of the choir Latte E Miele used on Passeo Secundum Mattheum. The sound is beautifully haunting, bordering on hellish. Many of the male solo parts have a strong ethnic-Russian sound. Overall, this is a unique and wonderful album(although my Russian neighbor gave it two thumbs down and a frown). I recommend Gusliar mostly to people that enjoy most of the bands, and styles, that I listed above. If you're not familiar with Italian progressive rock(or Ennio Morricone), Gusliar might sound a little overwhelming or strange. But serious international prog collectors will find plenty to enjoy.
Vocals(in Belarussian): 9/10
Recording Quality: 9/10