Review by Roland Bruynesteyn
Album assigned by Nina A
FSB, in case you did not know (I know I didn’t) stands for Formation Studio Balkanton, suggesting a studio project. However, this project has lasted for over 40 years now, so it’s proven to be quite sustainable (or unfinishable) for a project. Listening on youtube, I may have gotten some of the song titles (or the actual number of songs) wrong, but it was a pleasant listening experience.
The first track (Dawn) has the tranquillity of very quiet progressive music, not unlike Popol Vuh soundtracks of the 70’s, or EROC’s Wolkenreise II. The second song (Morning) is more up tempo and sounds like some kind of fusion or space jazz: busy bass playing, lots of percussion, electric piano and a sax(?) cruising on top of it. The third track (Three) starts as a quiet keyboard based track (Fender Rhodes, I think), with some female singing. It could be vocalizing for all I know, as I do not speak Bulgarian. When the rest of the band kicks in, it sounds a bit like Genesis, around Wind and Wuthering: slick, but still highly symphonic. Fourth track (Harmonies) is a fusion piece, this time with some flute added. This song is quite adequate, but somehow doesn’t grab me much. Luckily it’s very short.
Playing the Gamut is up next, it’s the start of the original side 2, I think. In its commercial appeal this could almost be Level 42 circa Love games (whose breakthrough would come a few years later, actually). Gold has a somewhat Brazilian feel, but that may be my language problem. It’s no Portuguese she’s singing after all. Rhythmically this works, but it’s no longer very proggy or fusion, that is, until the sax and later the piano kick in. Reminds me of Spyro gyra a little as well. A nice song, but more than before you can hear that the singer has to force herself to hit the right notes with sufficient power.
Song is a very contemplative piece of music again: several keyboards or synthesizers at the same time, creating a nice mood. The choral singing turns it into something more religious, but it may in fact be better than singing lyrics. There is not much development to speak off, but it floats along nicely.
For goodbye starts with frantic piano work, some mix of Firth of fifth and John Cage, almost. It moves to more neo-classical melodies, while retaining some jazzy notions. Very nice. When the synths start, it gets proggy again. I would have liked a trumpet part here, instead of one of the synths, but hey, what you’re gonna do? There is nice crescendo building and it’s by far the most epic track on the album.
Another pleasant Bulgarian surprise. I prefer their slow tracks over the fusion-ish ones, and I may prefer the instrumental tracks (or vocalizing ones) over the actual singing, but there’s quite a lot of variation here.
[Note of the assigner: There is actually no vocalizing on this album – it is all lyrics even if somewhat minimal, and the vocalist is a man as opposed to a lady, but he has a characteristic high voice.]