This Russian band recently touched me with their debut, The Door to a Parallel World, and in my opinion, So Far and So Near is even better and more original. Fronted by sisters Elena and Tatyana Kanevskaya on Lead Vocals/Keyboards and Guitar/backing vocals respectively, the band lead you through a wonderful journey of differing nuances of colors and textures. There is definite growth on this recording from the last.
Opener “And the World Will Be” surely is meant to enforce an American-Indian tribal beat that also brings to mind Emerson. Lake and Palmer in their prime. It moves dynamically towards the end of the song that becomes spacey and moody ala Pink Floyd. Elena’s voice on this record is beginning to take on more Grace Slick and Annie Haslam overtones than the previous Findlay/Cohen comparisons. Listen to the dissonant feel in a mostly instrumental ELP meets Jefferson Airplane piece like “Energy of Light,” that features a guitar solo from Tatyana that shows her Steve Howe side and then grand Yes-like harmonies when the vocals come at the end. A pulsating keyboard riff drives “A New Day Will Come,” along with Elena’s powerful vocal melody.
Even though Elena’s voice has grown so much stronger in the few years since the last album, this work still features a few long instrumentals much like the first recording. Title cut “So Far and So Near” amazingly presents a mood and atmosphere that initially begins like a movie soundtrack, by the end you’ve moved from Wakeman-style keyboard solos to Hackett guitar lines and crunchy guitar chording all at the appropriate times to bring this sucker into the world of prog. It’s pretty freaking wonderful. The heavily orchestrated “As You Wish, I Care Not” has just the right amount of whimsy to keep it all from getting too serious.
A Western Indian musical motif throughout often reminds me of ELP’s forays into American Western moods. The addition of flute by Dmitry Drogunov to a prominent position is integral to So Far and So Near (especially on the solo in “Thread of Love,” gorgeous), and the powerful rhythm section of core member bassist Dmitry Shtatnov and the drummers that must be named Sergey (there have been three now) cannot be ignored. Eternal Wanderers’ So Far and So Near gets a high recommendation from this reviewer, especially if you enjoy strong folk based prog with crossover potential and symphonic flourishes.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on August 21st, 2011