iamthemorning – Counting the Ghosts (EP Review)

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When an artist mentions “Special thanks to 2020 for being finally over” in the album credit acknowledgements, you know it’s been a tough year. Obviously not just for the band, but for everyone. Vocalist and one half of the duo, Marjana Semkina sums it up by saying, “As you will hear i don’t have much good things to say about it. ‘This year is over but nothing feels right, we have come a full circle while burning alive’ [from the title track]pretty much sums it up for me.” Fair enough, most of us can relate. However, don’t expect iamthemorning’s style to have suddenly changed in order to exorcise this year’s travails in some dense, cathartic primal scream. Instead, they follow their well-established form and offer a momentary respite from the year’s plagues via soothing, angelic sonic meditations. The only pain encountered here is that the total length runs a mere 14 minutes, begging for more.

The duo of Semkina and pianist Gleb Kolyadin once again form the foundation of the offering, augmented by occasional guests. There are no drums this time around, allowing Semkina’s vocals to float through the air like magical wisps upon the wind. The EP consists of two original songs and two traditional Christmas pieces, all under four minutes in length. In other words, the material demands to set the CD player on repeat so that it can be experienced over and over again.

Of the original pieces, “Cradle Song” is the first video release, an enchanting lullaby featuring a hypnotic blend of piano, guitars and multiple vocal tracks, inspired by William Blake. The second half of the song relishes in an intoxicating echo of vocal layers accompanied by chiming piano, forming an arc that could extend forever into the mists. The title track “Counting the Ghosts” paces back and forth in angst and frustration, recounting the difficulties of the year, but the music can’t help but entrance the listener. The band makes some wise musical choices by bringing in marimba and fretless bass, both tasteful and meaningful additions.

“Counting the Ghosts” Album Artwork

The two covers of traditional pieces bookend the EP, both primarily featuring Semkina’s lovely voice nearly a cappella. Opener “I Wander As I Wonder” follows John Rutter’s arrangement, while closer “Veni Veni Emmanuel” is sung in Latin with an arrangement by Kolyadin. These are simply gorgeous, guaranteed to bring a deeper sense of spirit and reverence to your Christmas playlist.

iamthemorning have often been generous to their fans by offering shorter recordings in between full-length albums. The monies raised from this EP will be put towards financing 2021’s next release. Obviously, during these challenging times for artists the importance of a supportive fan-base can’t be understated. Happily, this brief 14-minute diversion will bring a much-needed respite to followers of the band and perhaps even pick up some new admirers along the way. As they mention themselves, “Counting the Ghosts” is “Just a little something from us to you to celebrate the end of this terrible, terrible year.” Thank you!

Pre-order the EP now at https://iamthemorningband.bandcamp.com

Released by: Self-Released
Released on: December 4th, 2020
Genre: Progressive Rock / Chamber Pop

Musicians:

  • Gleb Kolyadin / Piano, synths, guitar on 2
  • Marjana Semkina  / Vocals, backing vocals, guitar on 2
  • Vlad Avy  / Guitar (2, 3)
  • Zoltan Renaldi  / Fretless bass, double bass (3)
  • Mr Konin / Marimba (3)

“Counting the Ghosts” Track-listing:

  1. I Wonder As I Wander
  2. Cradle Song
  3. Counting The Ghosts
  4. Veni Veni Emmanuel

Follow Iamthemorning: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

9.0 Excellent

A short but sweet offering from the evocative duo iamthemorning, “Counting the Ghosts” offers just enough blissful music to give the listener hope to make it through to 2021. With two original pieces and two traditional arrangements, all luxuriating in Gleb Kolyadin’s skilled keyboards and Marjana Semkina’s ethereal voice, this brief respite should tide fans over until the next full-length album

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8
  • Production 10
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