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Refestramus — Intouríst
(Bandcamp Melodic Revolution MRRCD22243, 2024, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-03-31

Intouríst Cover art

Moving on from the Refestramus debut album Decoupage, which was essentially composer, keyboardist, and drummer Derek Ferguson fleshing out some demo tunes with guests helping make it a first-class production. That was a few years back, and in the time since, it seems that Refestramus has taken some steps to become a for-real band, with Ferguson now concentrating on compositions and drums, while Derek Pavlic handles guitars, Mellotron, vocoder, and viola, Rogelio Souza playing keyboards, and Jerry King (Moon X, Cloud over Jupiter) handling bass. In addition, a number of different singers participate, including Craig Cairns who was featured prominently on the first album, Nida, Ian Beabout, Verdana Lina, and others singing on this track or that, and Max, who sings the Russian lyrics on the first part of the title track. There are also guests on trumpet, lap steel, saxes, accordion (Dave Newhouse no less), flute, and harmonica, everything in its place, brilliantly co-produced by Ferguson and Ian Beabout, the latter also handling the arrangements, mixing, and mastering. While the album is uniformly well produced, the mix of different singers and styles might be a bit mind boggling until one has spun the album enough times to follow it through. Some of the earlier tracks, including opener “DMK” seem to have somewhat commercial-prog appeal, not unlike late 70s Styx or Ra / Oops Wrong Planet era Utopia perhaps, possibly due to Cairns’ vocal style on that track, “Asunción,” and “The Devil Returns,” and a very ambitious prog attack I suppose, like there’s something to prove. Fortunately things settle out by the title track, a three-part twelve-minute epic opening with “Nevalyashka” (that’s the portion sung in Russian) with plenty of viola and an Eastern flair throughout, which completely changes the mood of the album, as it morphs into the second part “Agent M. vs the Sex Lizard” and ultimately to the third part “Zombie Love.” The remaining four tracks of the album proper are excellent, the standouts being the bluesy “Mr. Darwin” featuring some badass harmonica by Leon van Egmond and “The Red Apple,” another Russian-themed cut sung beautifully by Nida. Then we get to three bonus tracks, the first of which is a great cover of Spirit’s “Mr. Skin” featuring a remarkable sax solo by Mitch Lawrence (it would have been nice to have given the writer of the song a credit), followed by an acoustic version of “The Red Apple” and a Spanish version of “Asunción.” All taken, an excellent second effort from Refestramus.

The album is slated for release on May 4, 2024 on Melodic Revolution Records.

Filed under: New releases, 2024 releases

Related artist(s): Dave Newhouse (Manna / Mirage), Jerry King / Cloud over Jupiter, Refestramus

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