PuzzleWood is a Russian art rock band that has recently released an album titled Gates of Loki. After several reviews for artists that I was relatively unaware of, I can safely say that PuzzleWood is a superb band. Having said that, does “Gates of Loki” live up to the standard that I, and many others, have come to expect?
The band comprises of three members members, Tony Legatov (guitars and vocals), Nikita Lipatov (bass, keyboards, and backing vocals), and Eugen Semenov (drums). They are joined by a number of musicians who definitely make difference on instruments such bouzouki, percussion, arabic oud, violin, and flute.
The music of PuzzleWood is certainly in an area of its own although it does have tendrils that reach out into many different styles, including ethereal, flowing, spacey (a la Porcupine Tree), progressive, ambient, cinematic and even touching on the psychedelic. This album, Gates of Loki, conjures up magnificent, almost sparse, soundscapes which build from a subdued start into walls of sound before receding back into sparseness again. So without continuing to tease the reader, what did this reviewer make of the new album?
The highlights after several listens include “Remember My Name,” “Obssessed,” “To the Void,” “Hollow,” and “Jerusaelem,” although it was indeed a very hard choice to decide between all the tracks.
The opening track to Gates of Loki is an atmospheric instrumental titled “Intro (Gates of Loki),” which is followed by the mentioned “Remember My Name.” This piece sets the scene with the rhythm section and vocals by Legatov. This almost ethereal sound continues and then slowly builds. A stunning and very atmospheric start to the album, and sets the listener up for a musical voyage through the remaining tracks.
“Come Back Home” has some superbly played beautiful piano synths and guitar, backed by the softest of vocals. This track simply drips with emotion, from the instrumentation to the vocals, it is a stunning piece of work, gently changing direction and easing the listener along.
You will gather that this reviewer was well impressed with “Gates of Loki,” but it does take a few plays before you realize that you are listening to a simply stunning album. Some may describe this work as “minimalist” but this is far from being correct as the band of musicians move effortlessly between sparseness to walls of sound and back. Set aside an hour required to hear this album from start to finish and immerse yourself in an experience. I think that it almost goes without saying that “Gates of Loki” gets the special “One To Buy” sticker on the front, and indeed also gets a “This Experience Will Last Forever” sticker just below it.