CD Review – Iamthemorning – Counting The Ghosts EP

Russian duo Iamthemorning have released this EP for the best of intentions – the need to fund their next full-length album hopefully next year. The band had been signed to K-Scope for the last few releases but are contemplating returning to a purely independent approach in future.

This EP comprises four songs, two of which are traditional Christmas pieces, the 12th century hymn Veni Veni Emmanuel sung in Latin, and a more modern piece I Wonder As I Wonder which was thought to be collected by John Jacob Niles in 1933 from a young travelling evangelist Annie Morgan. The arrangement of the latter is based on John Rutter’s, but given a distinctly Iamthemorning twist. Of the other two songs, Cradle Song is based around William Blake’s style whereas Counting Ghosts is a reflection on how difficult 2020 has been for just about us all.

Many musicians are currently having to work remotely and file share to achieve their ambitions. But such is Iamthemorning’s isolation that the album was worked on individually in the UK, Russia and Canada.

Iamthemorning are a difficult band to pigeon-hole. While they are generally thought to be a progressive rock band, they are much more diverse than that with as much in common with classical chamber music and folk music than with rock. Indeed, there are no drums featured on this release. However, it does have many of the elements that make the bands work attractive. The standard of the musicianship is really high, and there is obviously a lot of thought and imagination on display. There is more layering for Marjana Semkina’s voice than is usual for the band, particularly on I Wonder As I Wander, so much so that it brings to mind Clannad, but in a good way. The production values are very good.

This is a very tasteful release then, and one that rewards re-listening. As a whole, it is a very reflective CD and one that would appear to catch the universal mood quite well. If you’re looking for a stocking-filler this year, you could (and probably will!) do worse than this EP.

1. I Wonder As I Wander

2. Cradle Song

3. Counting the Ghosts

4. Veni Veni Emmanuel

Marjana Semkina / vocals, backing vocals, guitar (2)

Gleb Kolyadin / piano, synths, guitar (2)

With:

Vlad Avy / guitar (2, 3)

Zoltan Renaldi / fretless bass, double bass (3)

Mr Konin / marimba (3)

Label: Self

Format: CD, Digital

December 4th, 2020

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