It does my heart good to see certain artists flourish before my very eyes. Since discovering Iamthemorning back in 2012, I don’t think I’ve been more impressed by the piano skills of any other artist than by what I hear through Gleb Kolyadin. He is a true master of the ivories, and it is pure inspiration to hear him play. Gleb is releasing his self-titled debut album through Kscope on February 23rd, and this album is simply a joy to hear from start to finish.
Gleb had brought along several high profile guest musicians to help him craft this album. Gleb himself plays grand piano and keyboards, but you will also hear a primary band of Gavin Harrison on drums, Nick Beggs on bass, Theo Travis on flute and saxophones, Vlad Avy on guitars, Evan Carson on bodhran and percussion. Guests include: Steve Hogarth (Marillion) and Mick Moss (Antimatter) on vocals; Jordan Rudess on keys; Grigorii Osipov on vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel; Iliia Diakov on violin; Alexander Peresypkin on cello; Grigory Voskoboynik on double bass; Tatiana Dubovaya on backing vocals; and Svetlana Shumkova on hang drum and spoken vocals.
That is quite a lineup, I know, and the music is rich and complex as a result, though the album is mostly instrumental. The musical style on this debut is obviously similar to that of Iamthemorning in some ways. It does have a bit of that chamber feeling with winding piano passages being the primary driving force, but it contains less of the neoclassical vibe you might expect. Instead, pureblooded progressive rock fills that void with gorgeous synth and keys taking the forefront, but with some guitar and saxophone soloing making their presence known. The drumming on this album is also a major factor, being off kilter and perfectly technical for this type of music, as can be expected from the masterful Gavin Harrison (one of my favorite drummers).
Yes, grand piano is the primary instrument on this album. Gleb is a force behind the keys as he crafts complex and even catchy piano melodies. Sometimes these come in the form of winding torrents of madness, and other times they take a more subtle and ambient form. Either way, the pure genius of what he offers here should not be lost on any listener, no matter their preferred genre.
There is plenty of variety here, too. The music transitions from the gentler style of his Iamthemorning project into more rocking portions that seriously impress. The album also feels a bit like Iamthemorning in that it utilizes interludes between major tracks. While these are not specifically labelled that way, that is how the album feels with some of the tracks being short and complete ideas that lead into the following tracks quite well. I specifically am impressed with the colorful personality of many of the songs.
I have several favorite tracks on this album. “Insight” is a spine-tingling instrumental track with thundering drums, a sax solo, and stunning piano. “Astral Architecture” follows and features Mick Moss on vocals, and feels wondrous and delicate: Mick’s voice is amazing and is the perfect companion to the dreamy sequences. “The Room” is another instrumental track with real gusto, grit, and personality: It feels quite urban in some ways, with a jazzy and mysterious vibe.
“Confluence” is one of my favorite tracks of the year. It features Steve Hogarth (who I happen to think is amazing) and is such a shadowy, ambient track that your whole body will be on edge. Steve whispers most of his vocals here, and it makes for a grand track that escalates towards the end. “Echo Sigh Strand” is a fantastic, brightly colored instrumental. “Storyteller” features Jordan Rudess of keys (obviously): Jordan is specifically involved with a crazy keyboard solo that sounds “radical” more than any other adjective I can pick. “Penrose Stairs” is one of the most intense songs on the album. The keys smoke as Gleb’s fingers fly over them with precision and fomenting power, and some guitar work kicks in to provide contrast.
I love the way this album ends. “The Best of Days” features Steve Hogarth again. Many have commented on the seemingly strange structure of this single, but it makes perfect sense as the ending farewell on the album itself. It feels fleeting and outside our grasp as Steve fades away, and I honestly think it’s brilliant.
Gleb Kolyadin has shown on this debut album not only that he is a genius on the keys, but that he can compose a stunning variety of beautiful music. His compositions are intriguing and dreamy and potent, and full of bright moments of melody and soul. The album itself is structured to the very minute detail, and so Gleb’s true brilliance is permitted to shine as I believe it should. Make sure you add this album to your list.
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