Romislokus - Trans Aviation Pilots

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 39:50:00

Trans Aviation Pilots is the Russian quintet's fourth album (fifth if you include the extended single Lyon's Message). And, checking the band's website today, as I write this, it looks to be their last, as the band seemed to wrap things up in May 2004. Which makes Marcelo's comment in his review - published in July 2004 - interesting: "these Russians don't seem to have any interest in throwing in the towel anytime soon!" Well, they didn't throw in the towel exactly, but rather I gather from what they say on their website, decided they said all they could as Romislokus. So, did they close things out on a high note?

One thing that could be said about the members of Romislokus is that they took to music with gusto. There was always word of a new MP3 available on their website (many of these now are gone, but you can download MP3 versions of their albums). I suspect this gusto will filter down to what ever groups the members have dispersed to.

Trans Aviation Pilots is a subtle and sparse work that mixes the folky style of Dire Straits with 80s-styled Euro-pop with the twang of the American mid-west. Lead guitarist Mike Solo (Mikhail Voronov) has an easy slinky style of playing, whether it's the twang sound of (what sounds like to me to be) a Gretsch guitar or a more chiming sound (no particular brand guess here if isn't the same guitar). It's the feel of Dire Straits that permeates this album, and much has to do with the speak-sing style of vocalist Yuri Smolnikov - he sounds like Mark Knopfler - a warm, deepish voice. None of this is new in the Romislokus universe. But the band have come a long way from the dreary sounds on Between Two Mirrors. This is a much more upbeat release, instrumentally speaking. Sure, it's still mellow, but it still sounds brighter. And as with the band's previous releases, the music sparkles, the vocals are good (not great), and the lyrics are... best understood on an interpretive level (I'm sure my Russian is worse, however, since I speak not a word of it).

"Trance Aviation Pilots" (yes, the song title and album title differ... could be a typo...) begins the album and is a slinky, sexy, number with that guitar tone. Though there are shimmery guitars here, too, that have the loveliest of sweet tones. It also becomes a little angular towards the end. Interesting track.

The 80s Euro-pop sound comes in "Rocking Time," where the walking bass line (Misha Brovarnik) reminds me of a slowed down version INXS' "What You Need" (I know, INXS are Australian) and "Take My Heart" which um... ahem... reminds me of Right Said Fred's one (and only?) hit... just a bit. "Rocking Time" doesn't quite work though as the instrumentation seems out of sync with each other to begin with.

A piece that mixes two elements together - becoming a countrified Dire Straits - is "Lucky Man;" not the ELP classic, but a sunny, cheerful ditty. After a trilling flute sound begins the piece, we get strummed guitar (shades of Nirvana's "...Teen Spirit," too) before we move into countrified Dire Straits... with more cheerful flute... and then it's over. "Just Dream" is another happy tune - a love song to cheerful a sometimes gloomy lover. Keyboard washes, distorted guitars, and a heavy, throbbing bass line characterize "Come Tomorrow."

Rhodes like piano, that guitar give a soft, pop jazz feel to "Money" (think "Your Latest Trick" from Brothers In Arms), and some nice percussion work (Jim Motto) can be heard here, make this a very cool song. In fact, the instrumental section here is where Romislokus really shine, as it is a very beautiful passage. "Теряю Время (Loosing The Time)" is one part shimmery piece, one part distorted rocker... never becoming wholly one or the other.

Irina Yunakovskaya guests on nearly every track, but her cello sounds especially lovely opening "Лучше Бы Я Не Родился (Being In Plastic Box)," a piece that is otherwise a synth-rock piece (sung in Russian) with lots of sonic effects, tart guitar leads and uh... briefly some Ian Anderson-like vocals.

The album ends with "In Flanders Fields" is a slighty funky country piece, musically cheerful, but I'm not sure I can say that about the lyrics (one of the few not available at their website; and none but the title track are printed in the booklet).

Trans Aviation Pilots is one of those albums that is very likable, but not lovable. It's one that holds interest for a while, but doesn't have enough oomph to find a permanent home in the player. It's not a bad CD, it's just not a great CD. But it's not for a lack of trying. There's just something, some one element that would have made this a great CD. It may just a little too underplayed, understated, by the band for its own good, which means it's missing a spark, it's just too mellow. What lifts the album above the average mark is their instrumental performances, and especially, for me, the guitar work. One improvement, by the way, is that the drums do not have that "digital" feel, in part because it's a real drummer I'm sure, but also because they've gone for a warmer tone.

Trance Aviation Pilots (3:54) / Take My Heart (3:36) / Lucky Man (2:08) / Just Dream (3:26) / Come Tomorrow (3:52) / Money (4:10) / Теряю Время (Loosing The Time) (4:07) / Лучше Бы Я Не Родился (Being In Plastic Box) (3:35) / Компьютер, Луна (Computer, Moon) (2:38) / Rocking Time (4:16) / In Flanders Fields (4:07) / Bonus: Dreg video

Evgeniy Gorelov ? keyboards
Mike Solo - guitars
Yuri Smolnikov - guitars, vocals
Jim Motto - drums
Maxim Karavaev - computers (2-10, 12)
Misha Brovarnik - bass
Irina Yunakovskaya - cello (2-4, 6, 8, 10, 12)

Between Two Mirrors (2001)
Vinyl Spring, Digital Autumn (2002)
All Day Home (2002)
Trans Aviation Pilots (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin RU

Added: April 5th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 843
Language: english


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