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Articles Home » 2004 Articles » Kuprij, Vitalij - 2004 Forward And Beyond
Kuprij, Vitalij - 2004 Forward And Beyond

Vitalij Kuprij - all keyboards, pianos, bass, drums

Guitars - Roger Staffelbach; Michael Harris; Michael Romeo; Jeff Kollman; Javier Leal; George Bellas; Francesco Fareri; Borislav Mitic

Recently we heard the Richard Andersson & Space Odyssey album 'Embrace The Galaxy'. A combination of keyboard histrionics played in Yngwie Malmsteen like fashion. Now we've got the king of the keyboard ivories releasing an OTT set of like-minded music. Ukraine maestro Vitalij Kuprij is to the piano and keyboards what Tony MacAlpine is to guitars: a master of his chosen instrument. Better known through his involvement with mainstream metal band Artension as well as moving in classical circles, Kuprij gets the chance to blast beyond the 88 keys of his keyboard. Though the rock/metal flavoured sound is familiar and in some cases hamfisted, the style, and sheer musical dexterity is something to behold. This guy didn't get to where he is today without some hard work, and one feels he could be equally adept playing some major classical concert venue prattling off Chopin or doing some weird Herbie Hancock shit in a New York club somewhere! There is some major mind-bending keyboard work going on, that only hardened ivory practioners such as Jens Johansson, Derek Sherinian and Jordan Rudes would truly understand what it's all about. I wasn't a big fan of Artension to be honest, but to hear Vitalij doing what amounts to a whole lot of reworked classical variations played in a rock mode certainly gets my interest fired up. His latest (and third solo) album 'Forward And Beyond' will appeal to ivory-tinklers in a big way, the album title giving ample warning that this talent is gonna go way beyond indeed! Of interest to budding guitar-slingers will be the appearance of many top-guns (Michael Harris, Michael Romeo, Roger Staffelbach, Jeff Kollman and George Bellas to name a few) who contribute their parts throughout the album.

The Songs
The lead synth work of Vitalij is impressive as is the sound, which appears to me to be like a spiced up clavinet/synth lead. It's prevalent throughout, and duels well with the guitarists who appear on each song. The title track kicks in with some Malmsteen references courtesy of George Bellas, while the solo work on 'Piano Overture' is way OTT by both VK and guest Michael Romeo (Symphony X). My god this sounds awesome under a set of headphones, but the funny thing is, the piano part comes right at the very end. 'Variations In D Minor' will be familiar to many people, but check out the variation that VK and Jeff Kollman (Cosmosquad) put on. It'll blow your socks off. An interesting tune is the laid back affair of 'Far From Home', guitarist Javier Leal moving in the same circles as Neal Schon's instrumental work. Throw in some emotional keyboard work from Vitalij and it sounds very moving. Let's snake past the effortless instrumental, the aptly named 'Phantom Flurries' and onto the hard-driving and very tech sounding 'Solar Impact'. This is a good one, and features American aexman Michael Harris. Another instrumental soon follows, the lush space sounding 'Illusion' not before the riff-fest of 'Message Of Hope' thunders on through.. complete with three guitarists (Artension's Roger Staffelbach, Fareri, and Mitic) soloing/duelling all over the show with our Vitalij. To end this 51 minute extravaganza, 'Idol Tribute' is a piano solo clocking in at nearly seven minutes. If you need a demonstration of how good this guy is on a straight piano, then listen to this tune.

In Summary
To summarise, the entire album is instrumental but that doesn't detract from the material one iota. The ideas fusing classical and rock progressions work real well. Combined with Vitalij's and Sean Leahy's superb mixing skills, 'Forward And Beyond' is a musicians album.. and that is way beyond doubt! Let's put it this way.. Is it the sort of album you'd go back and listen to over and over again? You betcha!

Sponsor: Lion Music

Track Listing:
01 Forward And Beyond
02 Piano Overture
03 Time Will Tell
04 Variations In D Minor
05 Far From Home
06 Phantoms Flurries
07 Solar Impact
08 Illusion
09 Message Of Hope
10 Idol Tribute (European Bonus)

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