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PANFILOV, MISHA SEPTET- To The Mesosphere & Beyond LP

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“There are many facets to Misha Panfilov's music. As a music lover himself, reflecting on his extensive catalog reveals numerous references in his harmonic palette, making it challenging to fully encapsulate. This septet's formation embodies his unique sound on this, their second album “To The Mesosphere And Beyond." The music is imbued with optimism, featuring airy, soothing space-age voicings reminiscent of Terry Riley and Raymond Scott, all revolving around jazz. The integration of the unconventional to the genre—such as lap steel guitar, inspired by cosmic country music--serves as an endless wellspring for new musical expressions, and assists Misha in exploring fresh schemes.

The alburn represents the culmination of a remarkable two-week creative marathon. During this period, the band rehearsed and delivered two dynamic live performances at Paavli Kultuurivabrik in Talinn and Fasching in Stockholm. Drawing inspiration from these shows, Misha swiftly composed new musical pieces within two days at a country retreat, bringing the septet together once more for a spontaneous two-day recording session. Remarkably, the entire album creation process spanned merely four days. The urgency arose because the drummer, Leonid Galaganov, had a flight scheduled back to the States-where he resides immediately after the late-night recording session. Despite the time pressure, they successfully managed to beat the clock and hit just the right notes!

On the first day of the studio recording, an unexpected incident unfolded as Misha and bassist Monika Erdman were en route to the studio with a cargo of musical instruments-an untimely tire blowout. However, fear not! Even though Misha lacked prior experience in roadside repairs and driving skills, he rose to the occasion, handling the tire change with the same grace that permeates his music.

Overflowing with anticipation, Volodja Brodsky made his way to the studio with his newly acquired Korg electronic piano, only to face the setback of realizing it lacked a necessary European adapter. Consequently, on the initial recording day, he had to improvise with a peculiar and inexpensive Bontempl organ, imparting the track "Mesosphere" with its distinctive charm. This organ remained partially open most of the time due to the need for constant tuning. Fortunately, on the following day, Volodja managed to acquire the adapter, enabling him to utlize his electronic piano fully on "New Orbits" and partially on "Mesosphere"

Both compositions on this album are structured into four vignettes, transporting listeners beyond temporal and spatial boundaries. "Mesosphere" begins with Misha's distinctive lap steel guitar motif, progressing with intricately layered melodies from the brass section. Volodja Brodsky introduces a minimalist organ melody that effortiessly lifts the listener’s thoughts to ethereal heights. Misha later transitions to an acoustic rhythm guitar to introduce a Brazilan musical aesthetic. Sasha Petrov enters with a heartfelt tenor saxophone solo, weaving poignant melodies through the air. The music briefly pauses before ascending to new peaks with a soul-stirring trumpet solo by Kino Toshiki, radiating with energizing fervor. Volodja returns with a stripped-down bossa nova melody, setting the stage for a rhythmic swell as Sasha and Kino engage in a mellifluous and heartening solo dialogue, accompanied by lush flute embellishments from Ilja Gussarov. Ilja's flute work is delicate yet authoritative, steering the musical narrative skillfuly as the track traverses its graceful path. As the composition nears its conclusion, Ilja shows his improvisational finesse while the primary theme lingers, gradually dissolving into infinity.

"New Orbits” opens with yet another of Misha's unmistakable and captivating chant-like melodies, drawing the listener in with its allure. Volodja Brodsky seamlessly merges his musicality with Monica Erdman on bass and Leonid Galaganov on drums, creating an enchanting harmony that channels the spirit of Getachew Merkuria. Misha's willingness to break free from genre constraints is boldly displayed once more. Sasha Petrov ignites the music with an impassio-nate and searing saxophone solo before returning to its earlier gentler, more subtle sound. The groove then takes an unexpected turn, transitioning into a more stripped-down sound, with Leonid and Monika establishing a head-nod-ding rhythm. The track delves into a mysterious, psychedelic realm, with Ilja Gussarov's captivating flute taking center stage, heightened by Volodja’s interstellar synthesizer sounds. The Septet envelops the listener in a Don Cherry-esque mantra, as if performing an incantation to commune with the earth spirit. Misha's excellent mixing skills shine as he gently guides the listener from a transcendent state back to the odyssey of exploring new orbits and venturing beyond.” -RRGEMS RECORDS, March 2024