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(52:10, ‘Maze Of Sound’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Rain Charmer 6:04 2. Reflection 5:34 3. Man in the Balloon 5:54 4. Animal 5:04 5. Trick of the Witch 5:54 6. Mad Hatter 7:09 7. Forest 4:36 8. Last Sunray 7:54 9. Memory 4:01 LINEUP: Maciej Kuliberda – guitars, mandolin, zither, bouzouki Piotr Majewski – keyboards; violin Kuba Olejnik – vocals Rafal Galus – guitars Bartosz Sapota – bass Grzegorz Sliwka – drums
Prolusion. The Polish band MAZE OF SOUND was formed in 2012, and released an initial EP at the start of 2013. From that point and onward the band has been active, playing at home as well as abroad alongside other bands, and with a small handful of festival appearances as well. "Sunray" is their debut full-length album, and was self-released towards the end of 2014.
Analysis. Poland is a country where melodic rock and neo progressive rock are just about as popular as ever, and due to that, a number of bands exploring the more accessible side of progressive rock have been formed there, many of them regarded as quality bands also outside of Poland, quite a few of them rather successful units in their own right and not just as regarded from a progressive rock perspective. Maze Of Sound is a band that has the ingredients to be an addition to that list of bands. In terms of style one might say that they venture out from a neo progressive rock- based foundation. Careful, elegant guitar motifs are paired off with floating keyboard textures of various kinds, with liberal amounts of space for harmony-based keyboards and guitar solo interactions; careful piano details have their time and place here and standalone emotional, crying-style guitar solo runs are presented here as well. The compositions tend to develop in more of a subtle manner, compared with many other progressive rock bands though, the songs subtly developing in scope and intensity and gradually gliding the songs over from one section to the next rather than opting for a more dramatic shift or up front transition. There are songs here that stay put in the same general theme as well, with the main alterations being in the textures used to flesh out the arrangements, while other creations adhere more closely to what one might call a traditional progressive rock approach. Cases in point being songs like Mad Hatter and Last Sunray for the latter, while concluding piece Memory is an excellent example of the former. There's also a track that, to my mind, may be a token gesture towards good, old Genesis: an instrumental called Trick of the Witch, although I should add that the associations are mainly to mood and atmosphere and not so much for approach, general style and execution. With calm, controlled, albeit subtly accented lead vocals, the end result is a charming album with one foot inside the accessible part of neo progressive rock, the other placed inside a melodic rock contextual framework, with a slight flavoring of whimsical tendencies here and there as a possible nod towards the former rather than the latter audience.
Conclusion. Calm, controlled and subtly sophisticated progressive rock with a distinct orientation towards a more mainstream melodic rock expression is what Maze Of Sound provides us with on their debut album "Sunray". A production, I suspect, will find its greater audience among those with a taste for the more accessible aspects of neo progressive rock. I'd suggest that those who generally found the releases from the S.I. Music label to be of general interest will be the ones who will find the charms of this band most alluring, and otherwise those with a taste for the more accessible sides of bands such as Marillion and Pendragon.
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