The Store of Wonders: 1972-1979

4 stars only because of quality. The material itself is wonderful. BTW, check the Russian Prog Thread and Free Legal Prog Music Downloads thread as well - you can listen to these songs if you LEGALLY download them from the proposed links.

To give an impression, imagine a mixture of DEEP PURPLE, URIAH HEEP and ELP - band's keyboardist Kris Kelmi deeply shared guitarist's (Alexander Sitkovetsky - later he'll form AUTOGRAF, another Russian Prog legend) views on composing and performing their material. Being one of the first Prog-Rock bands in USSR, VISOKOSNOE LETO composed hard-rock songs supplying them with fiery keyboard passages and complex signatures. Their magnum opus , "PROMETHEUS THE IMRISONED", never saw the light as a CD (despite the fact that it is avalaible on some half-legal sites...oops, I'm silent!)...Sadly, now nobody from the former members has no interest to their past activity (though Sitkovetsky did a self-cover of "Satan's Hop" for his recent solo-album). I wish "PROMETHEUS ..." will be released someday as a CD - I even could wrote a story for inlay booklet...

OK, down to the music. Boxset opens with "Overture" - instrumental composition in a manner of "ELP's Toccata meets KANSAS".Astonishing one, and a frequent live number. The following one is probably one of the most known works band ever did - "The Slumberthief" (Pokhetitel Snov), a 8-minute opus about the magic person who steals dreams and slumbers. It begans with a nervous solo, and only on 4th minute Alexander starts singing. Haunting and even frightening track, that represents LETO's best (IMHO). Another hit follows - "The Store of Wonders" (Lavka Tchudes)! Imagine BLACK SABBATH mixed with PINK FLOYD - heavy verse changes into dreamy chorus with background voices... The mid-part reminds of DEEP PURPLE's most mature works with legendary Blackmore/Lord interplays... "Mona Lisa" is a simply and enjoyable pop-rock-song, very memorable and catchy. "Rondo outside the Tone"(Rondo vne tonalnosti) is again a dark and heavy instrumental, confirming band's reputation as one of the best in USSR in 70s. "Mirrors" (Zerkala) is a short and unusual acoustic song, leding to another public's favourite - "The Song about the Rioter" (Pesnya o Buntare), very good lyrically and musically... ironic and even cynical view on rioter's life. "Paradox" is the same way paradoxical (excusance for calambour) - "Hail to the enemies - they're sometimes more frankly than friends"(and the whole lyrical concept of the song is based on related sayings). "The World of Trees" is actually a part of "PROMETHEUS..." opera, not the best one, but the most melodical and ballad-like. Closing "Satan's Hop" is again nervous and complex instrumental track in best LETO's traditions.

In summing I must admit that we have no opportunity to witness LETO's activity anymore.This is said. On the other hand, we can listen to their music and recommed it to others (as I do right now). If you have any questions or interested in English translation of LETO's lyrics - just PM me.

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

Friday, January 19, 2007