Label : Prikosnovenie 

Review by Stina

Russia’s Caprice have spent nine studio albums finding nuance in elvish fairy pop, sometimes inspired by the work of J. R. R. Tolkien. Now, they’re using their tenth studio effort to graciously yet vigorously steamroll over canonical conceptions of music, delivering their sound into a transporting, eccentric suite that gathers symphonic harmonies, sheer Prog brilliance, echoes of baroque memory, and Ethereal Voices into one sophisticated, wildly charming package. “Masquerade” is a work about poetry and expression of Art – and, just as Art is meant to do, it embraces an eclectic, unbridled flow that drips with passion and personality, orchestrated by the tender and agile soprano voice of Inna Brejestovskaya, whose mother-tongue lyrics transport the listener one century back in time, straight into the brighter and darker faces of the tangle between Russian history and Art: in this case, the Silver Age with its creative ecstasy and queries about Love and Beauty, counterbalanced by the shades of terror cast upon the population and the Artists by Lenin and Stalin’s rules. The title “Masquerade” was reportedly picked as an allusion to said times: ‘because in Stalin’s times people could only live and make art hiding under a mask’, but also to a playful and liberating conception of Art ‘Venetian masquerade with its glorious, festive atmosphere was an inspiration for many Russian poets’. And what makes “Masquerade” pulsate with life and vividness is how the clash of these opposites – most notably, the delight of creation and the fear of being crushed by the totalitarian machine – lends it dynamism and realism, together with a variety of mood and structures – sometimes smooth, other times uneven and with their full arc only becoming clear by track’s end. But the most effective way this dualism is mirrored is in the division of “Masquerade” in two chapters: the first half is centered on the pure joy of creation. From the fitting entrance point of the soft and ethereal soundscapes of “Reality”, on to the unconventional and meandering “Agnesa”, or even in the jaw-dropping proggy architectures of “To a Girl”, the emotional palette of the first half is one that contains nuances of euphoria, dreaminess, and rapture. With the cinematic, dark atmosphere of “The Master’s Shadow”, the second part starts on a more ominous and dark tone; from there, “Masquerade” remains deeply reverent of exuding the anguish inflicted by the totalitarian climate, and portraying the works, the lives – and, most notably, the deaths of five poets (Daniil Harms, Velimir Khlebnikov, Marina Tsvetaeva, Nikolai Gumilev, Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Mayakovsky) that succumbed to those tragic circumstances. “What Have I Done to You” surfaces delicate and consuming feelings I fail to pinpoint with a name; “Listen!” is a sort of elegy about the hope of peace and relief after death, while the conclusive “Fox and Cockerel” tells of a poet who, totally deranged and maddened by fear, while being dragged to his execution laughs in the face of his executioner. The free and impassioned nature of the music makes it difficult to pinpoint references or influences behind the creation, and any sense of one-dimensional characterization is completely erased by Caprice’s ability to portray the manifold conceptual body that informs the record. As a whole, “Masquerade” is a compelling stroke of passionate, otherwordly genius.

Rating – 95/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Reality
  2. Agnesa
  3. Stones
  4. Marina
  5. To a Girl
  6. Venice
  7. Elizabeth Played with Fire
  8. Forest Lullaby
  9. The Master’s Shadow
  10. What Have I Done
  11. Hunger
  12. God’s Wrath Has Smitten Our World
  13. Hottentot Cosmogony
  14. Unmasked
  15. Listen!
  16. Fox and Cockerel

Line Up

  • Inna Brejestovskaya – Vocals
  • Alexandra Korzina – Violin
  • Alexey Tolstov – Cello
  • Nikolai Gorshkov – Double Bass
  • Vladimir Bobovnikov – Flute, piccolo
  • Anton Konchakov – Clarinet, bass clarinet
  • Alexei Bazhalkin – Bassoon
  • Vladislav Lavrik – Trumpet
  • Tanya Strunina – Harp
  • Anton Brejestovski- Piano, keyboards, programming
  • Minister of Sounds- Electric guitars in “To A Girl”
  • Max Brejestovski- Bass
  • Dmitriy Vlasenko – Drums
  • Lyudmila Shamina – Additional voices (Soprano)
  • Marina Nefteeva – Additional voices (Soprano)
  • Vsevolod Vasiliev – Additional voices (Tenor)
  • Vladimir Sudakov – Additional voices (Tenor)
  • Vyacheslav Kirilyuk – Additional voices (Baritone)
  • Maxim Osokin – Additional voices (Bass)

 

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