Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review of
Myroslav Levytsky's

"The City That Never Sleeps" CD released in 2011.
CD The City That Never Sleeps
Date published: 08/24/2011
4.75 / 5 stars

Some time ago I discovered that my old friend Myroslav Levytsky had just put out a new CD. It in fact is only the second studio production that he has out, even though he has been around for some time. Fortunately enough, Myroslav and I are on great personal terms and he first sent me a number of tracks from the CD for a listen followed up by a signed copy for me personally and a limited number of personally initialled copies to be made available for those who want something different, for a price. We'll get to that a bit later.

Before I launch into reviewing this work, let me preface it by saying that I have known Myroslav for over ten years and have been involved in some of the collaboration he has done with the artists that appear on his latest release. I have written about Myros' here and will continue to do so as long as he continues to develop as an artists. He has always been, in my eyes, a musician's musician and is far from being in the mainstream, thus he has never had an easy row to hoe, but he ventures on and I have to give him credit for that in the very least.

Being a musician in any country is difficult, but being one in Ukraine where corruption is high, and intellectual property is something that is still not understood, after twenty years of the country's independence, makes things a little tougher than for most other artists, though regardless, Myroslav presses on. His gumption is something that admire, both as a musician and as a friend, and because of this I will digress.

Prior to the release of his first studio album Myroslav invited me out to his place near the Minsk metro station in Kyiv. I grabbed a Tetra-Pak® of pineapple juice I had in the fridge. I was living with a friend, his younger brother and their cousin. Myroslav had just received the master of that CD from BMG studios in Munich and he wanted to share it with me before they decided to putting it out.

As we listened to a copy of the master, Myroslav asked me where the juice was that I had brought. He poured us each a glass, and we looked at each other strangely. Not only were IP rights being violated, but so were consumer rights. We looked at our glasses, this stuff was practically water. A number of years later I found out from, directly from my friend's younger brother that he had spent an hour, extracting the pineapple juice from the Tetra-Pak® with a syringe and then re-injecting it with water. Kids – Sashko... you know I know that you did this, and some day you will pay! Just kidding. While our pineapple juice wasn't that sweet. Myroslav's tracks back then were, and I am pleased to say that the tracks on his latest release are also sweet. So without further delay, let me get to this new CD of Braty Bluzu featuring a great acquaintance of mine from Vienna Rens Newland.

Now, unlike so many others, I will get into a track by track review of this latest album by Braty Bluzu, and it's composer Myroslav Levytsky. Maybe I will finish writing this by midnight. It's nearly 20:00 now.

First of all I would like to say that I was pleased to see that the “jewel box” is going the way of the dinosaur, I hope. This CD is in a nicely packaged soft triple-fold package.. The art work on its exterior finely coincides with the title of the work . Who knows, maybe artwork on CD covers will be as coveted as those of our love vinyl albums we had in the past!

Now let's get to the nitty gritty.

No, wait! I have to say one other thing before getting into the music stuff. Rens Newland who is featured on all the guitar work here, recorded it at his studio on Vienna, so this is truly an international album, virtually, “Music Without Borders”!

So now let's get into a track by track run down of The City that Never Sleeps.

Damn it, my controller has died... No super small batteries for it at the moment...Seems to me I will reviewing this on cruddy headphones, as opposed to nice JBL-L19 studio monitors.

Well here we go!

The first track which is called “Intro” features the voice of yet unknown star Romchyk Vintersky, the young son of the band's drummer. It is clearly an atmospheric piece and for the most part sets up positive atmosphere of what awaits us. Who can resist the babble of a young child. Though this is not the only voice one will hear on this primarily instrumental album.

The second tracked called “Sky Coloured Blue Eyes”, features the colourful Oleh Levytsky on sax. While not a blustering Gerry Raferty style, Oleh can hold his own, and the tune has a very positive demeanour to it. Rens Newland first appears here on this album, and, clearly his years of experience are clearly heard. Did I not mention this is a musician's CD.

The third track called “World”, is oddly enough aptly entitled. We are not really sure what is going on now, and the beat set up and the violin, by Zakhar Valaha, son of the bands deceased violinist Andriy Valaha, gives us a sense of uncertainty, while at the same time some extremely positive energy. Ten years ago I spent some time living at Andriy Valaha's in Kalush Ukraine. After the Chervona Ruta Festival in $$$ Andriy suffered an aneurysm in his late twenties. He was a tenacious son of a gun, and I met his son Zakhar, who is clearly carrying on his father's legacy with Braty Bluzu.

Oh, sorry for the digression.. It is extremely clear that Oleh also puts his lips to the reed and blows out some great sax on this track, filled with the energy that our world now needs.

Now we move on to track number four, which can be considered the title track. The clearly electronically generated back beat to the entire tune, in my mind, shows the development of Levytsky in accepting new trends This is most likely the influence of his drummer Andriy Vintserskiy, though this in no way distracts from the composition. In fact the entire album was mixed at Vin Records, Andriy's studio in Kyiv. Oleh Levytsky's sax here is no less prevalent than in other tracks...

Now talking about sax! Clearly, Myroslav has employed his brother's abilities on the fifth track with out end. I will tell you my dear reader, there were probably a few nights that I awoke and knew Myroslav was working on this track entitled “Jazz – Ballet on the Themes of Short Stories by William Shakespeare”. Now, I'm not really certain how may short stories old Willy wrote... But if looking for a name for a song, Myroslav picked a good one here. Newland clearly weaves a fine tapestry in the tale with his guitar work and arrangements. A consummate professional!

The sixth track is in fact for me something special. Sure you all ask, “why?” Well it is a track that I was present at during its first creation between Myroslav and Rens. It was the end of June ten years ago. We had just completed the first collaboration between Myroslav Levytsky, Rens Newland and Lionel Lodge in Linz Austria as a project called “Music Without Borders” Rens had stated he had a few hours to sit down with Myroslav to record something if he desired. I was the medium. Myroslav spoke no English. After four hours, we had a piece. Rens turned to Myrsolav and asked, “What are you going to call your composition?” Myroslav looked out the window of Rens' studio.. and replied in Ukrainian, “ Videnskiy Lis” - Vienna Woods... The song has taken on many transformations in the last ten years, but I can listen to it over and over again, as it brings back some very positive memories of my time in Vienna with Myroslav and the guys he had pulled together for that project. “Vienna Woods” was an extremely pastoral piece when it was conceived, and has grown over its ten year existence.

The seventh track “Father and Son” probably has more meaning that I could even express here in this simple babbling about Myroslav's CD. I'm not going into why this is the case, though there is such a positive feel t this track that I would recommend it as a listen to any father who has a son. The light nuances of piano and guitar make it an extremely positive track. It almost becomes a discourse between two individuals, in this case , Rens Newland on guitar and Myroslav Levytsky on keyboards.

“With You”, now who would that be? I sometimes wonder myself, though I don't have to wonder much. The ultimately positive track right from the beginning even sounds like the words “With You”! If you have made it this far and haven't given up, you will clearly understand that this is a music lover's CD and not something for someone who hasn't the foggiest. Enjoy Oleh's sax here... it is a total sax chill. Wow I even heard some nice bass lines by Vitaliy Savenko on this piece.

Vitaliy and I go back a number of years... and I never expected him to be working with Myroslav when I met him at the “Cowboy Club” in Kyiv, playing bass with “Gaytana” covering a bunch of cover tracks. But I always enjoyed talking to him about music and life in general.

Goodness, only three more tracks to go! Yes, folks I am actually listening to this CD track by track and it is about the thirtieth time and I know I will listen to it many times more.

While “Two Evenings With Love” starts off in a very mellow state, don't be fooled. The interplay between the sax of Oleh and the guitar of Rens, boils into a frenzy that is clearly some hot stuff in the middle of a hot summer night. Slowly subsiding to a relaxed tempo of post coitus and then ... well you will have to listen to it if you want to understand what I mean....

When I was growing up I used to go picking mushrooms, and many other things that nature gifted to us. And I often heard from people in our community, if you don't want to get “Lost in the Forest” take my father along. We never got lost in the forest,. This along with the first track of the album is the only one which features “voice”. I would call it extremely experimental for this day and age. Why? Because I would say that most individuals are not ready for such a mix. Well maybe not most, but those who listen to mainstream, definitely. This piece features the haunting voices of a group called “Drevo” and I am almost tempted to give them the line: “We are not men we are Drevo”.

Finally we are getting to the end of my track-by-track review... Some are probably happy, others are most likely indifferent.

Now what could a track like “Rock – Jazz” mean to anyone? Clearly a fusion of both...

All compositions of this CD are of my good friend and former roommate Myroslav Levytsky, the album was published by Jive Music in Vienna Austria.

If you just need something to listen to, with all the crazy lyrics to boggle your mind you can pick up a copy of this CD initialed by Myroslav himself if you are in North America. Copies are limited, but you will have to drop me an e-mail and I will tell you how we can go about this. Once, I am out of copies you will have to deal with Jive Music in Vienna.

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