All the songs on the album are very melodic and by default entirely keyboard orientated due to the fact that the band, a duo, comprises only of keyboards and drums. However, the variety of resonances that ‘Dmitry’ exudes from his keyboards are totally amazing, ranging from harmonic choral effects through to spooky organ and all kinds of bells and whistles in between. Literally, there is just so much going on with subtle modulations in pace, variations in technique and generic music stylisations. The whole affair could be misconstrued as being a keyboard sampler album. I don’t mean that unkindly because the keyboard skills illustrated here are quite exceptional and the resultant music very enjoyable. As an aside, I was unable to determine whether the bass sound, throughout the entire project, was the product of more keyboard trickery or that it was programmed separately on tape or that simply a bass player had been drafted in? The drumming throughout is competent and sufficiently professional without being extraordinary and seemingly the timing and percussive skills meld well with the massive array of keyboard creations. The use of voice-overs and other sound effects are well administered and the bursts of Russian dialogue, even not understanding what it’s all about, add a nice different kind of atmospheric feel to the proceedings. Track six especially is exceptional with Russian voice overs mixed with an elegant accordion sound, quite different, interesting and unique.
I have to say though that am a bit confused, because, I cannot understand why these guys remain just as a duo. It is apparent that there is a huge wealth of talent both in the songwriting and instrumental departments. However, for the songs to be truly progressive there needs to be far more complexity in the way the music is structured involving additional instruments to expand and layer the sound with multi-instrumental time changes and exchanges of pace. No matter how proficient the individual musicians are in a duo it is extremely difficult without additional props, or guest musicians to expand the sound sufficiently enough to fully realise the true potential of the band. This is a shame because the ideas behind the compositions are extremely good and ‘Dmiitry’ on keyboards comes over as being exceptionally talented with wonderful keyboard skills.
I could not help but draw a parallel with the UK band Camel and the ultimate fusion of Peter Bardens (keyboards) and Andrew Latimer (guitars) resulting in one of the best songwriting partnerships in progressive rock. The same could happen with ‘Shalash’ But obviously ‘Dmiitry’ and ‘Maxim’ have their own visions of how they want “Shalash” to progress and in that respect these guys might be suitably employed in some other professional capacity and playing music only as some kind of hobby. There certainly is true potential here for them to do very well as a headlining progressive rock band should they join forces with an equally talented lead guitarist and bass player.
Summary: Interesting totally keyboard orientated progressive.
Artwork: Colourfal seemingly hand painted cover, nice digipack.
Dmitry Karavaev –Keyboards
Maxim Smirnov –Drums