Riverside just posted this on its Facebook page, about 4 hours ago. Much to look forward to.
Imagine, if you will, a world where Aerial-era Kate Bush, Dumbarton Oaks-era Igor Stravinsky, and Sketches of Spain-era Miles Davis got together to compose a song cycle. They might come up with something to rival iamthemorning’s new album, Lighthouse, but it’s doubtful.
A work of astonishing beauty, Lighthouse is also deeply moving. The songs chronicle a young woman’s struggle to overcome mental illness, and her ultimate surrender to it. Heavy stuff, but fortunately the gorgeous musical arrangements make Lighthouse a work worth returning to again and again. iamthemorning takes the listener on this journey through the use of neoclassical music, prog, and classic jazz. Most of the songs feature a full chamber orchestra, while others are buttressed by the talents of Gavin Harrison and Colin Edwin – Porcupine Tree’s rhythm section. Mariusz Duda, of Riverside and Lunatic Soul fame, lends his distinctive vocals to the album’s centerpiece, “Lighthouse”.
Of course, the true stars of Lighthouse are the members of iamthemorning, vocalist Marjana Semkina, and pianist Gleb Kolyadin. Semkina’s vocals are heartbreakingly beautiful, moving from peak to peak as the songs unfold. Kolyadin’s piano work is perfectly simpatico with Semkina’s singing, providing graceful accompaniment. On “Harmony”, he takes center stage, leading a sextet through a swinging instrumental.
The mood of the album flows from the somber overture of “I Came Before the Water, Pt. 1” through the melodic “Clear Clearer”, to the relatively upbeat “Harmony” and “Matches”, before descending again with “Belighted”. “Chalk and Coal”, in the words of Semkina, “represents the final twist of the album story-line, the final breakdown”. The first half of “Chalk and Coal” features the most straight-ahead rock of the album before the band seamlessly shifts into chamber jazz for the second half. “I Came Before the Water” returns, with Semkina, unaccompanied, singing of accepting defeat while a gradually swelling string chorus provides solace. The tender and brief “Post Scriptum” is a final elegy, and Lighthouse is over.
Even though the album is almost entirely acoustic, it packs an enormous punch. It is a work that is best experienced by listening to it in its entirety. Everything, from the cover art to the extraordinarily high level of musicianship, combine to create a tasteful and sophisticated work. This is music that transcends categorization; it is music that is timeless and evocative. iamthemorning have come up with an album that is destined to be a classic of modern music, regardless of the genre.
Losing your musical heroes is never easy. In the past year, we’ve lost a number of them. At least two of them, Chris Squire of Yes and Glenn Frey of the Eagles, were the subject of Progarchy posts upon their passing. Today we mourn the passing of possibly the best guitarist of the current prog scene, Riverside’s Piotr Grudziński.
The passing of Squire and later of Frey were one thing. Both of them were 67 when they died, and while they were taken from us too soon, losing them was easier to process emotionally. Both had decades long, successful careers. Both of them had peaked and were able to let their full abilities play out. On the other hand, Grudziński was a mere 40 years old and had many creative and productive years still to come. Losing him now, coming off Riverside’s most recent (and stunningly good) album, is the equivalent of what would have been had Squire or Frey been lost in 1975. I’m just shaking my head in disbelief that this has happened …
So much potential has been lost. Don’t take this the wrong way – it’s not that he hadn’t lived up to it. No, he was living up to his potential, spectacularly so. He was in his prime, continually evolving as a guitarist, and we are now denied seeing where that evolution would have taken him.
It is with immense sorrow that we report that Riverside’s Piotr Grudzinski has passed away. This appeared this morning at Riverside’s Facebook page:
With great pain and disbelief, we inform you that our dear friend and brother Peter Grudziński left us this morning. We ask that you respect the privacy of the family and loved ones.
In our deepest pain and disbelief we would like to inform you that our dearest friend and brother Piotr Grudzinski has passed away this morning. We kindly ask you to respect the privacy of his family and friends.
May we all keep Piotr and his family in our prayers and best thoughts. This is a terrible loss.