"Ah, the beginning. A place where artists are naked and idealistic. They are willing to go anywhere they want and do exactly what they want. Well, independent artists, of course. Exactly is the case of ROZ VITALIS on the debut L'ASCENSIONE (Italian for 'The Ascension'). This is a concept album about spiritual ascension and an early glimpse of a love of Italian album titles! There are many Biblical themes such as track 2, "From Heaven And Earth from St Mark 9: 5-18 that tells the story of Jesus and his disciples after transfiguration and wends and winds its way to complete "Repetence" at the end. Personally i find this interesting music but lose the concept as it is almost entirely instrumental and has a clearly all-over-the-friggin-map type of approach of symphonic leaning prog that is simultaneously brilliant and a little lackluster. The band has come a long way since then but it began as the whim of main musical man Ivan Rozmainsky. He's even got 'main' in his name!!! Well, maybe not in the native Cyrillic alphabet.
If you like keyboards then this is keyboard heaven. This is a nascent album bringing ideas to fruition through the technology and means of the time and place. I would place this release more into a progressive electronic category than anything else. It sounds like it was totally recorded on synthesizers and according to the info about it, it was, so just don't expect a slick mature product resembling albums like "Lavoro D'Amore" on board. This is the primeval ooze of an artist's beginnings where things are messy, passionate and uncompromising. L'ASCENSIONE is just that. It may be very amateur in many ways but it definitely displays an artist and his passion to bring his musical ideas into the world.
The music at this stage is quite experimental. Although this is primarily an instrumental album, there are strange vocal accompaniments, weird synthetic sound parades and lots of outbursts of progressive elements such as time sigs gone wild and a dark ambient type of atmosphere that persist throughout the entire album. If you think it sounds homemade that is because it is. This St. Petersburg musical entity has managed to put its ideas into musical form and created an interesting collage of ideas and find themselves venturing all over the place. The one constant is that it has a classically induced melodic influence and lots of synthesized timbres and tones to interrupt any pre-conceived expectations.
Although this may only appeal to fans of the band (of which i am one) there are many cool things going on even on this debut that will hook and reel the listener into the ROZ VITALIS fan club. Despite the instrumentation on board being on a limited budget, the production is excellent. The main downfall is simply the lack of timbres and sounds on board as well as album flow of ideas and how to manage them. As a disparate flow of nascent origins, however, this is rather interesting for progressive listeners. It has a crapload of classical meanderings with electronic experimental procedures. Unfortunately there is really no rock here at all. This is simply ideas executed on synthesizers but those ideas are quite interesting if you have the ability to discern the offerings. Not as brilliant as later releases but a wonderful debut and output of idiosyncrasies."
(c) siLLy puPPy
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"Did you ever happen to listen disc, which makes to remember King Crimson, Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, Gentle Giant, Rush, Russian folklore and Russian sacred music, contemporary avantgarde (from Olivier Messiaen to Sofiya Gubaydulina), something from Soviet "prog" soundtracks for films (including animated ones) and Soviet prog-rock bands, but, nevertheless, is unlike all the above? It is such music which is rare and fascinating, fragile by its nature, but extremely influential on attentive, erudite and open-minded listener that is represented by musicians from Saint-Petersburg on "L'Ascensione". Appallingly figurative, beautiful and melodic art-progressive- avantgarde-space-rock by Roz Vitalis is so visual that have provoked associations with would-be documentary film as if shooting in the Russian Museum (which is one of the main museums of Saint-Petersburg and Russia in general). Camera suddenly moves from brightly painted futuristic avantgarde kaleidoscope to as if shining canvas by Nesterov, from them to the universal mysteries by Roerich, and, finally, to the icons by Rublyov, madness by Vrubel, and at once to the epoch of palace revolutions - time of courteous and cynical conventionalities, devilish collage of refinement, enlightenment and mannered trample of the all sacred. and once again to the twentieth century, which is industrial and rusted throughout. The central motive of all excursion are the icons as a symbol of conscience and repentance. We come back to them in the end. "L'Ascensione" is, perhaps, the most Russian in itself album by Roz Vitalis (in spite of the fact that afterwards the band turned more evidently to folklore). In this album all history of Russia is as though an archive including everything from ancient manuscripts to contemporary films. In the first place it is history of the Russian spirituality, which since the Time of Troubles tries to get on with Western values, the Russian revolt with its senseless ruthlessness to the all (and most of all to the authors of itself), and, finally, the profound repentance, return to God. After all, I would like to say that, possibly, there are reasons for blaming the band (practically one-man-project by Ivan Rozmainsky who if he would live in France, Belgium or Switzerland, would be able easily to drive own project to the level of Art Zoyd and Univers Zero in a sense of both recording quality and acknowledgement) for "small- budget electronicity" of sound, lack of live instruments, but, after letting of "Ascension" into heart, I am under charms of true, sensitive, profound, "non-fictitious" art, which is experienced and heartfelt. Figurativeness and openness, complete absence of vanity of vanities of the moment, that is too much customary for the most contemporary bands of all styles and kinds, makes this marvelous, lofty and sublime music perfectly disarming."
(c) The Snow Dog