VYACHESLAV POTAPOV or simply shortened to VP is a one man show from Almaty, Kazakhstan who released a series of albums in the 2000s in his own DIY fashion. WATER WORLD is his sixth release and what a major improvement in terms of both production and compositional finesse. When i say one man show i really mean that. Not only does VP construct all the tracks in his own eccentric style but plays all the instruments. One will hear guitar, bass, piano, drums and other percussion and many forms of sampling. Not only is VP gifted as a musician but is also responsible for his own cover art and this one depicting three green children on lily pads and intricate detail of waterfalls is not only a beautiful vision of the fantasy in the true progressive rock spirit. With WATER WORLD, everything came together and VP not only caught the attention of the prog world for his exquisite compositional and production skills but has been solicited by other artists for album artwork as well. While WATER WORLD is the sixth release of VP, it is the first to be issued on a physical format. The digital album was released in 2012 but the physical copy albeit lagging behind its initial release is finally seeing the light of day in the tender year of 2017.
Despite being a totally instrumental album, WATER WORLD is actually a concept album about two different civilizations on a planet in some far away place. They are known as the Krokuts and the Hunty. While it is impossible to comprehend the story through a mere listening of this sophisticated and dizzying complex music, VP has given me the green light to give his little story behind each track that hopefully will translate the music ideas into the heads of those who aren't music nerds! WATER WORLD is quite the eclectic mix of sounds and honestly is totally unique as i can't think of anything else i've ever heard that is an equivalent. Musically this one is all over the map with jazzy fusionist tendencies that also incorporate symphonic touches, ethnic influences, tribal drumming and absolutely bizarre transitions as one style tends to overlap with others and sometimes change things up quickly. This is music for musicians as the time signatures are so bouncy and ever changing that its practically impossible to predict where any given musical meandering will lead. Overall there is a strong jazz-fusion component in how the tracks are constructed with everything from Weather Report airy passages playing out to more erratic Return To Forever type of craziness but instrumentally speaking this is more of a rock / electronic hybrid with guitar and bass shining through in times of heaviness but ambient and ethereal atmospheres also permeating throughout.
I could have NEVER figured out the storyline by the music alone. It's far too nebulous and only with the tutelage of VP could i ever hope to assemble a sense of meaning to each track. To make this easy i have listed each track with the thematic explanation of VP in his own words. His English is very poor and i left his Google translations intact as not to corrupt the meanings. I explain a bit of the music afterwards.
FIRST track "Intro (Unusual Island)"
ship was off course and got lost in a thick fog. In the morning when the fog, the sailors saw a miracle-island. In the center of this island stood a giant size lot of trees woven together and resembled a huge castle.
Musically: starts out as ocean sounds. Waves churning, seagulls with a simple piano line providing the musical setup and ends with a crazy guitar entering at the last second and fading out
SECOND track "Vegetational Town - a: Great & Magnificient"
landed and began to explore unknown lands. All the flora and fauna differed from what they knew before.
Musically: begins the complex time signatures and changes in tempo with a frog croaking in the background. A funky bass line picks up a rhythm and then all prog hell breaks loose with mellotrons providing atmosphere, a jazzy rock with avant-prog touches. The music meanders into very complex arenas. I hear some Steve Howe inspired guitar licks, Zappa-esque jazz-fusion and even Chic Corea style keyboard runs and ultimately ends with crickets chirping in the background.
THIRD track "Vegetational Town - b: Stem"
the study, the sailors met a miracle of nature - the tree, the stems of which gave off a glowing liquid that flowed on the ground and freezing was a very beautiful crystals. People have greed began to fill the backpacks and pockets of this strange breed. They do not know that for the local inhabitants it was the sacred tree, and exuding a fluid sacred tears of the gods.
Vegetational Town - including: Invasion of the Field Mice Night, when the sailors took a break. During a night's sleep, they are attacked by hordes of rodents. So people know that the island is not only beautiful but also dangerous.
Musically: begins with an ambient swirling effect of synthesizers in the background and then a jazzy interaction between the guitar and bass. Sounds somewhat like a psychedelic Return To Forever type of sound. The track continues mostly in jazz-fusion mode but picks up tempo with more rockin' percussion and bass.
FOURTH track "Night Revelation Of Antackena"
about the uninvited aliens, the tribe Khunts turned for advice to his sorcerer Antakhena. Night Adelroth did the ceremony and learned that the aliens had defiled gods currently taking tears of the gods. He got really pissed. It gave people the rodents to scatter them around the island.
Musically: Tribal drums in frenetic speeds are joined by a much slower bass line but picks up fairly quickly and jumps into a frenetic jazz-fusion riff of the guitar with heavy bass and percussion staying chilled out in comparison. It picks up steam at midpoint
FIFTH track "Geyser"
the same time. Race Krokus also held a ceremony. In their bogs were sacred geyser through which they learned about the aliens.
Musically: starts out slow with clean Floydian guitar lick and cymbals that quickly jump into a more jazz-fusion oriented mood setting. It becomes quite the frenetic jazz-fusion track with all the instruments creating a tempestuous rhythmic dance. The track goes through several shifts of rhythm changes as well as the usual eclectic mix of heavy bass lines with syncopated jazz-from-hell type keyboards
SIXTH track "Games of Herbs"
beginning of a new day or early morning. I describe as rostitel'nost'Ã» wakes up with first rays of the sun. As dew plays on every blade of grass and every leaf.
Musically: starts off with birds singing as a guitar line gently emerges into the limelight and has a rather Baroque J.S. Bach type of feel to it. Lots of different keyboard sounds dance together. Perhaps a lost Brandenburg Concerto? Well for a while at least. Remains classically rhythmic but becomes jazzy. Really amazing musical mixture here.
SEVENTH track "Wandering"
a new day and two tribes are feuding with each other Khunts (humanoid) and Crokus (crocodilopolis) gathered for talks. They decided for a short time to stop the war in order to join forces against the aliens. They decided with General witchcraft to inflict on people the magic that has the property of oblivion.
Musically: a steady beat guided by frenetic guitar and groovy bass line. The keys provide atmosphere and tension builds as the recurring groove ratchets up. A brief pause and the keys become the frenetic rhythmic caffeine addicts for a while. While the general rhythmic drive stays the same, it's quite brilliant how the instruments pass the baton taking the lead and carrying it. In the middle of the track everything stops and a drumming display gradually gives way to a new jazzy guitar segment with heavy rockin' drums.
EIGHTH track "Water World"
: The Taming of Â the Geysers ii: ... and on the Water Surface To finish the job they collectively appeal to the mistress of the watery World. Mistress of the watery World through a ritual of "dance on water", which the sailors fall into oblivion. At first this dance is energetic and contains convulsively. The dance Mistress of the watery World produces the Taming of the Geysers. Then the dance turns into a plastic and beautiful ritual (... and on the Water Surface).
Water World. - iii: Detection woke up on the deck of his ship. They can't remember what happened with them before. Around thick fog. At this time two children of the tribe take care of Khunts found by a sailor, whom they found in the woods at night. That is why the sailor left on the island, about him no one knew.
Musically: morning sounds as birds and wolves do their thing and then a quickened groovy bass line meets a piano that seems like it's in its own world. Many counterpoints going on very early. Jazz-fusion feast of the senses with this one. There are many breaks in mood but tempo remains rather steady throughout. Style stays in jazz-fusion as well with a steady rock drum beat allowing the keys and guitars to perform jittery acrobatics all around it. Like most of this album, words don't do it justice. Too removed outside of the listener's experience to convey any sense of musical progressions.
The good: WATER WORLD musically is a brilliant blend of electronic rock and jazz-fusion dished up with heavy doses of avant-prog sensibilities and sounds like no other album i've ever heard. The compositions are quite good and sophisticated and really do deliver an exciting flow of ideas within the context of the genre fusions mentioned.
The bad: unfortunately despite leaps and bounds above previous albums, this still sounds like a homemade product and in need of a more sophisticated production level. Often DIY albums sound as such because they are lacking the proper percussive drive and i feel that is also the case with WATER WORLD. The drum antics are adequate but it sounds programmed. Also i found it impossible to glean any sort of concept album as it's all instrumental and relied on the artist's input to understand it.
When all is said and done, WATER WORLD is an excellent piece of instrumental music that lover's of electronic rock, classical and jazz should appreciate quite well as the complexities of weaving these styles together is phenomenal however this is a rather heady album that requires extreme attention paid to the details for any sense to be had from it. There are really no periods of breathing room and is indeed a challenging album to appreciate, however if you are looking for something unique from an isolated geographical setting of the world, then by all means check out this fascinating sci-fi tale of different worlds all told in a Pekka Pohjola sort of narration by notes sort of way. It's really worth the effort.