“PANDORA SNAIL” hail from St Petersburg, Russia, and concentrate mainly on instrumentals. As with a lot of this type of music, it is hard to categorize. Is it truly Prog, Folk, Jazz, Symphonic Prog? Well yes it’s all of these and yet, not exclusively any of them. In any event it’s the music that matters. Categorization nowadays has become increasingly difficult, if not impossible. The violin features prominently, courtesy of Arteem Gareev who gives a distinctive trademark to their sound. Each of the other members also competently display their prowess with their own particular instrument and I must say, it all comes together incredibly well. They’re a tight band that obviously enjoy each other’s company; this is evident in the interplay amongst the members. Apparently there are plans for a new album in 2016. Should be interesting.
The Band consist of the following members:-
Ulyana Gor - Keyboard, Composer, Vocals
Oleg Gorgadze - Guitar, Electric Guitar, Composer, Sounds, Vocals
Kirill Klyushin - Bass, Guitar, Contrabass
Artem Gareev - Violin
Igor Cheridnik - Drums, Percussion
Sounds in the record; Yanina Podrezova, Demyan Titov, Yulia Alexandrova and Nikita Sokolov
Recorded at the studio “Interzvouk”, 2010
Sound Engineer, mixing; Sergey Navetnyi
Mixing; Alexey Topolov
Mastering; Sergey Bolshakov
Art; Konstantin Nagishkin
Design; Alexander Medvedev
Executive producer; Nikolay “BigNick” Bogaychuck
02 By The Mountain River
03 To Catch The Wind
05 James Pont
06 Mother’s Tears
07 Red Rivers
08 Stones’ Names
09 Dance Under The Bullets
10 After The War
“DILEMMA” is a beautiful, melodic track with bags of character and style, fuelled and driven by the wonderfully distinctive violin of Artem Gareev.Very commercial in it’s scope, yet containing elements of Folk, Jazz, Classical, Progressive Rock and even Metal. Nice, jolly organ section midway, a little something for everyone here.
“BY THE MOUNTAIN RIVER” evokes just that. Initially we are treated to a beautiful, lilting melody, courtesy of acoustic guitar and violin with bass, drums and a soft string arrangement in the background. This is followed by a nice catchy piano motif before we are yet again regaled with the full “orchestra”. We are then treated to a few more pleasant piano “canoodlings” before fading to coda. A pleasant if undemanding piece. Music to relax by.
Initially there’s a distinct ambient feel to this next track “TO CATCH THE WIND”. All is not as it appears however, and we’re soon firmly into “Progressive Rock” territory. There are a variety of influences apparent at this point; I am reminded of early PFM (amongst others), then, a “Funky” episode ensues and everybody appears to be having a really good time (well, aren’t we all ?), indeed for a moment, I could be at a “Santana” or “Osibisa” concert. (Those of you of a “certain age” will know exactly what I mean). The violin is re introduced and yet again there’s a complete “genre” change. (I said “Genre”). We’re into “Jazz Rock” territory, (think “Jean-Luc Ponty” or even “Stephane Grappelli”) before a recapitulation of the main theme and a brief coda.
“SUBMARINE” - Imagine the scene. It’s a summer’s evening, the light is slowly fading, a light breeze gently brushes your body and causes the grass to ripple like small waves in the sea. The band takes to the stage. All is calm and peaceful as a beautiful, gentle, dreamlike passage ensues. The violin consolidates this mood, evoking the sound of a string quartet. We are then treated to the mellow sound of a guitar which further enhances the vibe. Just perfect.
The mood changes somewhat with the introduction of the drums. Once again we’ve entered “Jazz Rock” territory. The music is still very melodic and accessible, however, the pace has quickened. There’s even a funky “thing” going on here. There’s a little improvisation and then we’re back once again with the main theme bringing this lovely little piece to a satisfactory conclusion.
“JAMES PONT” in true “Prog” tradition is by far the longest piece on this album. At almost seventeen minutes, one may question the need for a ditty of such epic proportions. We “Proggers” however have a long standing tradition of such offerings, indeed we are not daunted, we have been there before.
Before long we’re paying tribute to some of the old favorites. There’s definitely a whiff of “Canterbury” with unmistakable echoes of “Caravan” and “Camel” in there. One section evoked memories of Italian rockers “Aqua Fragile”. There’s also a lovely piano section (accompanied by the ever present violin), in short, all the ingredients for a satisfying excursion into “Progland”, may take a little perseverance though. Jolly little fairground section at the end. What ho!!!
“MOTHER’S TEARS” is a mellow, undemanding, melodic piece, rather classical in style initially, morphing into jazz. Featuring piano and (of course) violin aplenty. Not a great deal going on here but pleasant nonetheless. Probably my least favorite track on the album.
“RED RIVERS” After an amazing virtuosic violin flourish worthy of old “Paganini” himself, the music continues in an upbeat manner. Fuelled by bass, piano and violin, there isn’t really enough time for any development. Pity. Short and sweet.
“STONES’ NAMES” Another pleasant melodic interlude with a lovely motif. There’s an almost Arabic drum break at the commencement of this track which has a little more substance than the previous couple of cuts and incorporates a “Reggae” section followed by a pleasant guitar solo and some nice “Symphonic” piano. Lots of variety here. By the way, I’ve absolutely no idea what the title refers to.
“DANCE UNDER THE BULLETS” A real “Toe tapper” this one, a nice funky up-tempo number which incorporates an impressive violin flourish towards the end. Boogie on down.
“AFTER THE WAR” A rather sombre and moody introduction that picks up pace and becomes a little more optimistic with time. As per usual the violin dominates this piece although, there are some “Metal” references which prevent the track from becoming monotonous. A little too chaotic for me. Oh well, “Horses for courses” as they say, I suppose.
“SATORI” is a beautifully melodic, lyrical piece which is obviously inspired by “Pachelbel’s Canon” in it’s early stages. The track however picks up momentum and encompasses a variety of Jazzy styles, including a wonderful piano and violin motif about two thirds of the way through. a real hotch potch of styles and melodies which should please everybody. A fitting conclusion to a fine album.
CONCLUSION – This is an excellent debut album which I would not hesitate to recommend. The tracks are mellow and for the most part undemanding. An abundance of styles widen the potential appeal of this fine work. Definitely worth a listen.