Al-Bird - Sodom And Gomorra XXI

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4435 AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:57:00

Al-Bird, is Albert "Al-Bird" Khalmurzayev, a multi-instrumentalist, along with his X-Religion cohorts Vitaly "Progressor" Menshikov on bass and Valery "Ptero" Vorobiov on electronic drums. The album is called Sodom And Gomorra XXI and subtitled "Progressive Symphonic Poem." Sodom and Gomorrah were the two cities believed to be located north of the Dead Sea, and were reduced to ash by a hail of fire and brimstone (or sulfur) in punishment for "sins" that took place? allegedly took place? or were allegedly sins? whatever your personal point of view happens to be.

The CD consists of one track, broken into four movements (parts) and further subdivided into ? well, subsections ? all of which lasts just about 50 minutes. Looking at the few pictures that are featured in the booklet, this "poem" has been performed live. Rather than a stage play with dialogue, however, I gather it is more a performance piece ? dancers acting out the story while the band plays on stage. There are no lyrics really, but that doesn't mean there are vocals ? mostly vocalizations including howls and cries. Of course, if you're being rained down upon by fiery brimstone, you aren't going to be singing "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Musically, the album isn't any one thing, as the trio employs a variety of textures. There comes one point, at about 8 minutes in (halfway through "Part I: c) Lot-I/The Wife-I/Angels") that reminds me of Pink Floyd's "Great Gig In The Sky" and yet a few moments later, with "Part II: a) The Capture" we get something approaching techno ? which is due mainly to both the electronic drums and keening "voices." At another point, it's quite symphonic, keys taking the lead. It flows together well mixing subtle passages with bombastic ones. Even when the keys are at the forefront, you can hear Menshikov's bass playing something equally interesting. At about 22 minutes in ("Part III: a) The Folly Of The Mob") we get something with a decidedly grunge like feel, played against a groovy pop rhythm ? kinda like the Surfaris meets Nirvana ("Walk, Don't Run" meets the opening riff of "Come As You Are"). A few moments later, it's classical, then acoustic and new agey. At various points, though briefly, you'll think of ELP, mainly the Emerson portion, in the keys of Khalmurzayev. There are many points where the music implies the idyllic with light and airy tones. There are even passages that recall Tangerine Dream if a little more lyrical (at about 39 minutes in).

What doesn't seem to fit story-wise are the two brief sections "Part IV: d) Procession Of The Dead Stars ? I" and "Part IV: e) Procession Of The Dead Stars ? II." These literally are snippets from "dead stars" ? John Coltrane, Jaco Pastorius, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe (though a typo refers to her as "Merlin Monroe") and others who died "before their time." Or at least that's the connection I think Khalmurzayev is making.

Sodom And Gomorra is a very interesting listen, a CD that doesn't reveal itself after only a few listens or even with many listens, but without some focus. It's one that requires a lot of attention, and if you aren't familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, one that requires a little research. Though, if you know the basic story, or at least some of the key points to it, you won't have any trouble following along. Aside from all that, it's well done and very well played, though I don't personally care for the electronic drums, preferring the sound of analog drums; Vorobiov does manage to make them sound interesting.



Sodom And Gomorra XXI (2002)
Dances On Gobelins (2002) (X-Religion)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UZ

Added: February 11th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1417
Language: english


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