AMQ RSM, an anonymous instrumental rock quartet from Smolensk, European Russia, was formed in 2005 by four classically trained musicians who also work in various professional academic and jazz orchestras. They were brought together by common love to modern rock-music and idea to create «actual music» – the term which, in their own interpretation, describes not «timely» or «vital» music but the music «directly related to any creative act of metaphysical transmission and perception». «Actual music» also implies the crisis of traditions and stereotypes, as well as the freedom from any conventionalities or obscurantism. Whether we label their music as post-rock or experimental rock, there are a lot of spaces for stylistic and emotional variety: from minimalism to fusion, and from melancholy to courage. For music samples please visit AMQ RSM page at MyspaceMusic.
AMQ RSM has often been described as post-rock, a vague category for instrumental bands which typically are hard to categorize as they emphasize the incorporation of a variety of music genres from the past decades including prog-rock, cool-jazz, classical minimalism, ambient and film music, and experimental electronic. The quartet of well-trained multi-instrumentalists – guitars, keyboards, flute, bass, double-bass, drum-kit, piano, mandolin, vibraphone, bells, assorted percussions, electronic devices, etc. – they share equal responsibility and trust in each other, pouring out their anxiety for haunting melodies, beautiful harmonies, meditative grooves, clean string-keyboard ambience, and crunching production experiments. The result is something complex and cerebral, yet playful and accessible. AMQ RSM sound like a low-key black-and-white film-noir drama interrupted by wonderfully empathic and confident comments by the group-of-four. This debut comes off as a considerably organic album making experimental rock sound both as challenging and evocative music. (8 tracks - 42 min.)
"The Russians’ debut album starts quite unpretentiously with Tram Song, before Number Two is a first highlight of instrumental progressive rock with a pulsating bass line that build up tension. Two shorter tracks follow. RM is very cinematic with a brooding glockenspiel making for a sombre atmosphere. Grooba couldn’t be more different. This is fusion jazz at its craziest. I wonder how many knots the musicians had to untangle from their fingers after having recorded this short but wild piece. The second half of songs is more homogenous in nature, with the band combining jazz rock with postrock, dismissing the progressive elements most of the time. The seamless joining of these two styles works in favour of the band though, crafting an original sound as if Tortoise during their TNT-era joined up with Soft Machine when Allan Holdsworth was their guitarist in the mid-Seventies. It’s clear from the beginning that the people behind Actual Music Quartet RSM are gifted and classically trained musicians who have experience in jazz music. The wide array of used instruments (guitars, keyboards, flute, bass, double-bass, drum-kit, piano, mandolin, vibraphone, bells, assorted percussions, electronic devices, etc.) makes for a sonic richness which is unparalleled. Their debut album starts off as a wild crossover between genre boundaries in the first half, to end with more contemplative songs that are never really that long, but therefore are thoroughly composed and are proof of the band’s already exception songwriting maturity. I am tempted to declare this the best album yet to be released on their label. This is a must-have for every fan of jazz rock fusion music. (Grade: 9/10)" – by Pascal Thiel of DisAgreement (Luxembourg) (February 2008).
"The many faces of Actual Music Quartet - At first it would seem that Actual Music Quartet RSM is a group with several faces. One side is displayed in the 1st track, 'Tram Song', the 5th track, 'Clock 77:77' and the 7th track, 'Face 2 Face', in which the style is that of post-rock; quite mellow (at times almost ambient), with caressing guitars and keyboards in the background. This side shows a more varied than usual aspect of post-rock, vivid and rich sounding. On the other side I hear a very creative band, which tries (and succeeds) to create a mix not found often, a mix which the term 'experimental rock' truly fits. At times going into an almost minimalist approach with a somewhat gloomy and eerie sound, which works perfectly, they give us a taste of quite a wide array of atmospheres and sounds. A good example of an upbeat and vigorous side they expose to us is on the 4th track, where a great very fast fusion rhythm with a great throbbing bass gives the perfect background for the lead guitar to play an exhilarating role. This is a brilliant high energy track, sure to give you a kick in case the previous track was too mellowing. More variety comes in the next tracks, the 5th one, 'Clock 77:77' in which some of the post-rock sounds comes back along with some spacey-sounding electronic effects; again magnificent sounds are displayed here evoking great imagery and emotions... This is a talented group capable of speaking in many musical tongues to create whatever textures and musical texts they want to relay to the listeners. Come to think of it, this album would be perfect as a soundtrack; the switch from one mood and texture to the others is done very well and is flowing naturally giving the impression that we are following events unfolding as if being shown an invisible movie we can only listen to. In addition, the continuity of the music all through this instrumental album makes this one of the most rewarding listening experiences I’ve had in a while... The musicianship shown here is top quality, and the compositions are well written and well thought-out. In short, this is a fantastic release, one that will appeal to those looking for an intriguing and beautiful musical ride. If you love music which paints soundscapes, music that seems to depict scenes, or post-rock/rock that experiments (but not in a noisy or off the wall way) then this is for you. Personally, I can’t wait for more material from this group - highly recommended!" – by Assaf Vestin of Sonic Frontiers (USA) (March 2008).
"...One could say that the debut CD of the 'actual music quartet RSM' from Smolensk in Russia sounds just the way that ECM would sound today if it were a rock-music-label and not a jazz label. Clean, technically perfect virtuosity and still with a lot of feeling and asethetics inside... What these four musicians are able to do is best shown on 'grooba', a superfast race through a variety of styles, with notes a million per minute and perfect timing. But it is also more than just a show off for ability (a true deadstop for a lot of music), because it retains meaning, sliding along like a giant, fast worm, wiggling and whirring by. The following 'clock 77:77' is then a dark and slow track with an intriguing guitar line that slowly grows into a gigantic wave of music, threatening to overpower everything in its wake. These two tracks are deftly set in the middle of the record, and all the other tracks, eight in all together, sort of circulate around them both in style and arrangements. From current bands I would most likely compare the Actual Music Quartet RSM to the other instrumental band that has left the realms of rock behind themselves and started to dive into dynamics and sound more than the riff and the verse / chorus / verse structure still around in instrumental bands nowadays, and that is Don’t mess with Texas. Interestingly, though, while the musicians from DMWT come from a rock- or even punk-background, the members of the AMQ-RSM are all classically trained musicians with all kinds of experience in jazz and classical projects. As such you wouldn’t hear that there are only four people at play, all of them multi-instrumentalists, that is why. The main basis is the classic rock band outfit, though, with drums, bass guitars and some keyboards. Amidst the weird and obscure noise rock otherwise released on R.A.I.G. this album is a wonderful step aside. No psychotic madness, no trashy noise, no disturbing distortions. None of the mind tricks of Bosch's With You or the aural attacks of Won James Won. And even if the music is emotionally gripping and able to take the listener long ways along with it, there is no force or violence in it. Everything is full of ease and lightness, like the clear blue skies over endless white landscapes in the Siberia that Dostojewski describes in some of his books... Actually, it would be nice to describe all the tracks on here as landscapes, some more peaceful, others a little wild, some with fine weather, others with a storm brewing in the far east. A pastoral hide and seek for the likeminded." – by Georg Gartlgruber of Monochrom-Cracked (Austria) (March 2008).
"...the aim here is a rather lofty one in that they’re not only out to create diverse music which is new and fresh sounding, but more importantly to create music which defies categorization as well. This debut self titled disc can be considered a success in large part due to the very fact that they don’t really subscribe to any one specific musical genre. They incorporate everything from jazz and progressive rock, as well as elements of post rock, into their melting pot, and the results provide an extremely challenging and satisfying listening experience. In fact if I had to draw comparisons with any band, I would say that AMQ’s sound here is very reminiscent at times of the American post rock band Tortoise in that AMQ really know how to use their various different instruments to paint a broad aural canvas. The mixture of funky and laid back rhythms are hypnotic, and when combined with the clean sounding, richly layered guitars and various electronic elements, it just adds to the overall ambience. The 8 songs on this disc flow so cohesively into one another, it really gives the listener the feeling that they’re listening to one long, multi-faceted composition rather than 8 distinct tracks. There is also a very soundtrack like vibe present throughout as well, as the haunting melodies and contemplative atmospherics allow the listener to drift off in their minds and choose their own cinematic visuals to accompany the music. AMQ RSM have certainly crafted a debut disc full of a wide range of different textures which all lovingly weave together to form a unified whole. This music will appeal to people that appreciate everything from minimalism, progressive rock, jazz and fusion, and experimental rock. Simply put this is forty two minutes of musical heaven. (Score: 5/5)" – by Ryan Sparks of Sea Of Tranquility (USA) (March 2008).
The album was also reviewed at: Nota-Bena (Russia), Komsomolskaya Pravda (Russia), Rate Your Music (USA), ProgressiveEars (USA), ProgArchives (USA), The Silent Ballet (USA), Psychotropic Zone (Finland), Progressive Area (France).