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Inna Zhelannaya

Cocoon

Review by Gary Hill

Inna Zhelannaya is a Russian pop-star. The music on this album combines world sounds with atmospheric prog. Add in the Trey Gunn on Warr Guitar and this sits firmly in the progressive rock heading. Comparisons to Enigma can certainly be made at times, but this music goes in many different directions from that point. It’s an intriguing release that makes for a unique and entertaining listening experience.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Grief

Found sounds and what feels like Asian folk singing make up the early portions of this. Just before the one minute mark ambient music begins to rise up amongst the other elements. Eventually the folk singing fades away leaving waves of musical texture behind. Gentle female vocals come in over the top of this in a compelling arrangement. The folk singing returns just before the song fades out.

Well
Wandering through more ambient territory, there is more of a world music element here, yet this also reminds one a bit of something from Jon Anderson or Jonathan Elias. The vocal line is compelling. The number closes with extreme ambience accompanying a child speaking in a language other than English.
Naya Naya
Slow moving and pretty, the Asian and other elements merge nicely here. Some backwards tracked sections show up later. There is almost a techno rhythmic presence later.
Youth
An echoey, nearly unaccompanied vocal line makes up the first couple minutes of this track. After a time, though, some musical accompaniment emerges. It gradually intensifies, but never gets very loud or involved, remaining more as a textural tapestry.
The River
The arrangement here is quite sparse for a lot of the number. It is very much a world music kind of sound, but there are prog elements that show up later. It does get louder later and there’s an interesting percussion element late in the piece, too. There is also a cool world music styled jam late.
Drunk
There is a pounding sort of sound to this, but more like a symphonic texture than a metallic one. This has a lot more energy and power than some of the other stuff, but definitely in a world music meets progressive rock style. After a short respite the cut powers out into a killer jazzy jam that’s very much like early or even Red era King Crimson.
Pavushka
World music merges with ambient progressive rock on this number. Comparisons to Enigma would not be without merit. At almost nine and a half minutes in length, this is the second longest piece on show and, as one would expect, it has a lot of variation and alteration as it continues.
Early Early
The vocals really drive this one and the overall musical concept is a world music sound. It’s an intriguing cut and gets quite involved as it continues.
Mower
Much of this has a playful sort of world music element, but it turns to more proggy territory later with some noisy instrumental work. There is another of those jazzy King Crimson-like jams later, too. There is an annoying little skip/stutter effect that shows up at times, though.
Manechka
The longest cut on the disc, by one second, this is less dramatically dynamic than a lot of the music here. In fact, it tends to be one of the most ethereal and atmospheric. It seems that the slow moving and fairly monolithic and understated nature of this piece makes it a less than optimal closing number. Trading it with “Pavushka” might have been a good idea in terms of overall album flow.
 
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