Little Tragedies - Porcelain Pavilion

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Boheme Music
Catalog Number: CDBMR 011182
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:50:00

Porcelain Pavilion by Little Tragedies is another release from the Russian label Boheme Music, recorded in 1999 and released in 2000. Composed by keyboardist/vocalist Gennady Ilyin using the poetry of Nikolay Gumilev as the lyrical basis, we get a mix of classic and classic rock styles. Ilyin notes that "The album is not in the least a musical pastiche or nostalgia for 70s (use of analog keyboard instruments is only a hint but not a reference point). Merely, it was that way in which the composer [...] had read and heard the very poetry..." The band itself is a duo, with Igor Mikhel joining Ilyin on guitars, and providing production duties. I will note that everything is, as expected, sung in Russian, but no less communicative to those who don't speak the language.

There is a lyrical romantism to the music during the classical piano passages, which are set against rockier keyboard and guitar passages. If you were to blend Italian prog and 80's UK prog, this is the mix you'll hear. Though the classicism outweighs what is termed the "neo-prog"-isms. However, specifically, there are keyboard passages that to me were very much in the style of Mark Kelly (and like keyboardists), but it is the warmer, piano passages that I like more, such as those on "Nature." The intro to "Poet," interestingly, begins in a manner much like The Beatles "A Day In The Life" and yet becomes a very subtle and delicate thing, airy and wispy. Percussion here shimmers and glimmers, drums contrasting with hesitant, uncertain beats, building a great deal of tension. Combine this with Ilyin's understated, near-whisper vocal delivery, and the tension quotient is upped. It melds into "Moon On A Sea" seemlessly, which is an elegant, uplifting piece that is another example of the blending of above.

When one thinks of the melding of classical and rock, one immediately thinks of Emerson, Lake and Palmer or Yes. Don't, as there is nothing here really of either band to be heard here. Not much of Genesis either, but I imagine if Genesis injected their music with a classical quotient, this is what they would sound like. Perhaps because Ilyin sounds a bit like Gabriel...a young Gabriel, perhaps. But, saying that seems misleading, because the music is much lighter than Genesis, and it's not something one might think right away. In fact, I really only noticed during "Laos." "In The Heavens" is a dramatic, baroque instrumental piece. Mikhels guitar lead here is stately and controlled -- maybe because I've been watching the ice skating this week, I suddenly envisioned a figure gliding across, in long, measured strides.

"Way" is a darker, denser track, with heavy use of keyboards and percussion. This is the closest to ELP that they get, mainly in the keys. I thought more of Arena, actually. A restrained Arena. This is an epic track, guitar solos becoming keyboard solos seemlessly, then playing in tandem.

"Fairytale" made me think of The Flower Kings, and yet also seems very Russian. Quietly booming percussion brings to mind a march (and darn if I can't get ice skating out of my head, now), which leads into a much stronger military statement. The way that passage ends is like the end of the chapter - suddenly you realize that "Fairytale" is telling a story; the next chapter is light and lyrical; the chapter that follows even lighter, phrases a bit like a musical box (it's all just a dream?) ... and then it ends with drum flourish ... just taut rumble...the way you'd think that a classical piece would end (visually, padded drumsticks against a huge drum).

This review really only scratches the surface, there are so many little moments that are worth mentioning. It is a full and complete work. It is musical art that transcends any one genre.

Reissued in 2009 by Mals; when originally recorded it was a Gennady Ilyin solo release, reissued by Boheme under the Little Tragedies moniker and then re-reissued by Mals under Ilyin's name, with a bonus track and new artwork

Porcelain Pavilion / China Girl / Nature / Poet / Moon On A Sea / Creative Work / Laos / In The Heavens / Way / Fairytale

Igor Mikhel - electric and acoust guitar
Gennady Ilyin - composer, keyboards, vocals

Gennady Ilyin (Little Tragedies) - Porcelin Pavilion (rec. 1999; rel 2000/2009)
Gennady Ilyin (Little Tragedies) - Sun Of The Spirit (rec. 1998, rel. 2000/2009)
Return (2005)
New Faust (2006)
The Sixth Sense (2006)
Chinese Songs, Part 1 (2007)
Chinese Songs, Part 2 (2007)
Cross (2008)
The Paris Symphony (rec 1996/97, rel. 2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin RU

Added: February 23rd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 611
Language: english


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