I have been so excited — even proud — to see Iamthemorning evolve into a powerhouse in the progressive community over the last few years. From winning awards to opening for concerts with household names, this duo has travelled far and wide to deliver their special brand of chamber prog. Between albums, the band has elected to release a studio film on CD and Blu-ray called “Ocean Sounds”, and it might just be one of the most special live films I’ve seen. It releases on October 19th through Kscope.
Iamthemorning resides in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The band consists of Gleb Kolyadin on piano and keyboards, and Marjana Semkina on vocals. This particular release includes the talents of: Karl James Pestka on violin, Guillaume Lagravière on cello, Joshua Ryan Franklin on bass, and Evan Carson on drums and percussion. These musicians are obviously gifted, and their interplay and cohesion can be felt throughout the film.
Now, “Ocean Sounds” isn’t your normal concert film. The band is calling it a “studio film” because it was recorded at Ocean Sounds Recording Studio on Giske Island in Norway. The studio has a panoramic array of windows, and so the whole film features the gorgeous backdrop of the Norwegian Sea. You’ll see beautiful sunsets, stunning skies, and an elegant color palette. It’s not often that we see a band in this type of setting, and so the film feels warm and inviting.
The film isn’t just a straight forward studio concert, either. It offers plenty of anecdotal and personal moments; as we see various parts of the island, the band profiled against the sunset, and Marjana and Gleb discussing the music in their native language. It makes the whole film feel homey, sincere, and even impromptu. The neoclassical and chamber elements to their music are enhanced, as a result.
The performances here are refined, but not as subtle as you may think they might be. Marjana is quite expressive and emotional in her delivery, and Gleb switches between instruments on the fly, raging and foaming on the piano in some moments, while offering delicate musings in others. Karl and Guillaume offer a rich strings section, often coming across as playful, but also grounded. Joshua’s bass is warm and classy. I have to say that Evan’s drums and percussion are something I really enjoy watching, as you’ll see him playing multiple instruments simultaneously.
The tracklist (below) is a real treat for long time fans of the band. All of the songs are played with emotion and technique at the same time, the best of both worlds. I won’t go over everything single track, but I do want to spotlight three songs that I feel hit me the most. First, about halfway through the film, the band plays “Touching II”, one of my very favorite songs from their debut. I still love the chorus so much, and the piano feels powerful and dynamic. It hits all the right notes for me, and is the best version of the song that I’ve heard yet. Second, the band plays “Chalk and Coal”, one of my favorites from “Lighthouse”. This song feels so transcendent and textured, even in the studio setting. Lastly, on the Blu-ray version only, the band offers an unplugged version of “Blue Sea”, a song off their unannounced new album. It’s a real treat and sounds wonderful, though it is fairly short. Still, it’s a great chance to hear more from the band.
Overall, “Ocean Sounds” is a perfect taste of the band while we wait for the next album. The direction and warm colors really feel conducive to the band’s style, and it is a pleasure to see the musicians in their element, playing with heart and for their own fulfillment. Most every track feels like the definitive and best version of its respective song, and that is when you know a live performance is something truly special. Feeling cinematic and also very intimate, “Ocean Sounds” is a must for any serious Iamthemorning fan.
Ocean Sounds tracklist
2 disc CD (audio) + Blu Ray (video) / LP (audio)
1. Inside [03:30]
2. Scotland [03:37]
3. To Human Misery [04:05]
4. Romance [02:57]
5. 5/4 [03:12]
6. Touching II [03:53]
7. Os Lunatum [03:49]
8. Matches [03:53]
9. Sleeping Pills [03:17]
10. Libretto Horror [02:04]
11. Chalk & Coal [04:06]
12. K. O. S. [05:51]
Bonus Track on Blu-ray disc only
13. Blue Sea [02:42]
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