Saint Petersburg (the Russian one) native Egor Lappo describes his new concept album, Trancevoicer, as sounding like ‘Ghost if they had been influenced by Rush instead of Blue Öyster Cult‘, but after repeated listens to the album that’s not what I’ve been getting at all… strange what one ear hears and another doesn’t, isn’t it?

Perhaps the perky Ship 1426 does have a whiff of Geddy Lee and company circa Hold Your Fire with it’s lavish keyboard backdrops and crystalline lead work, but elsewhere – and again I emphasize this is purely my opinion – the overwhelming sound is of Gabriel/Hackett-era Genesis beefed up with more metallic guitars… and, if you need that more modern comparison thrown into the mix… the pop melody/earworm sensibilities of Devin Townsend. With the odd portentous Lonely Robot passage thrown in.

Which is just a very longwinded way of saying that Trancevoicer is an utterly ‘entrancing’, gorgeously sumptuous listening experience that must already rank as one of the leading prog releases of 2021; Egor, who plays everything on the album, certainly knows a thing or two about prog composition yet, with no song even reaching five and a half minutes in length, his ability to keep things moving and ‘listenable’ for those with shorter attention spans means he has created perhaps the perfect ‘prog-pop’ album here. Tracks like Dreamworld and Sparks In The Night are near enough perfect examples of modern melodic prog; the latter track’s strident, honking synths meld with steely riffage before the swirling bridge elevates the track to filigree heights of sublime musical overkill; Lappo then plays a flashy solo just to top things off, sending the listener into swoons at the majesty of it all.

Whilst the modern urge in all walks of life is to simplify and streamline – a cynic might call this dumbing down – Lappo has managed to take this basic tenet yet imbue it with ‘old fashioned’ values like craft and skill. The result is an album that glitters with the attraction of modernity yet remains rooted in tradition. Which, in the blighted days of 2021, would seem like the closest thing we’re going to get to a win-win situation. Seek this album out. Listen to it. You’ll feel much better for the experience.