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Track list: 1. System 4:50 2. W Cieniu Izolacji 3:06 3. Czlowiek Z Wysokiego Zamku 8:10 4. Sensorium 3:34 5. 4th Dimension 28:53 6. Wyspa Czasu 7:10 LINEUP: Slawomir Jelonek - guitars Krzysztof Walczyk - Hammond, piano, keyboards Roman Siminski - bass Bogdan Mikrut - drums Mariusz Rutka - saxophone Mariusz Filosek - vocals with: Malgosia Lydka - flute Janek Mitoraj - guitars
Prolusion. Polish band PROAGE can trace their roots all the way back to the mid 1980's, then operating under the moniker Czwarty Wymiar, but from 2010 and onward they have used Proage as their chosen name for their three studio albums so far. "4.Wymiar" is the most recent of these, and was self released at the start of 2021.
Analysis. While it would appear that Proage as a band have generally been placed and described as a band exploring the neo-progressive tradition previously, this isn't really the case with this most recent album of theirs. While there's more to this band and this album than this, of course, hard progressive rock is something of a calling card for this album and is the main and recurring expression here. Classic guitar and organ combinations as well as more contemporary guitar and keyboards and guitar and synthesizer driven passages mix and intertwine through most of the songs we are presented with here, tight and energetic and occasionally with some quirkier details thrown in for good measure. At times bordering progressive metal, while on other occasions bands like ELP, Atomic Rooster and even Led Zeppelin may well be given planned or accidental nods by Proage. There's something of a playful, relaxed atmosphere to the proceedings here too, one gets the impression that the members of the band had a real good time when crafting this album. This playful spirit also makes it's way into the compositions as calmer, jazz-tinged left turns appear as well as more atmospheric laden, Camel-tinged and possibly even Floydian oriented details occasionally appear...and then there's the case of the title track of the album that merits a description too. Clocking in at just under the half hour mark, the multiple part epic '4th Dimension' deviates just a bit from the rest of the songs here. First and foremost it has more of a retro-oriented sound and feel to it throughout, and as a secondary feature this is also the song that invites more than any other songs here to name-dropping and pointing out possible references. Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, ELP and Van der Graaf Generator are some of the many possible reference points that can be found scattered throughout this massive creation, and more than anything else I believe this song may well have been given its name with a distinct and careful thought in mind: The obvious one is that this song is a planned homage to some of the giants of yesteryear that the band members like, but given this band's history and the name they used in the first phase of their existence I do wonder if this song also represents and preserves the legacy of Proage's first incarnation Czwarty Wymiar. Be that as it may be, it is an impressive creation, and one of many impressive details in it is how they combine the reference points of the harder prog found elsewhere on this album with the more retro-oriented music explored on this composition - by way of some details in the concluding part of this massive epic. Personally I'm also glad to hear that the lead vocals are much improved this time around. On the band's previous album the vocals were rather weak, but it would appear that vocalist Filosek has worked a great deal to develop his vocal style to better fit his range. While a part of the improvement obviously is that the lyrics are in Polish in most of the songs, the sprawling epic title track is in English and it is there that one can best hear just how much the vocals have improved. Kudos.
Conclusion. If you have an affection for hard progressive rock, Proage have created an album that should be well within your general field of interest with "4.Wymiar". They feature both vintage oriented and more contemporary sounding material on the album, and for many progressive rock fans the almost half an hour long retro-oriented epic '4th Dimension' will probably be a major selling point in itself. A solid and accomplished album by a band that have developed quite a bit in the last couple of years, and have taken a few steps up the quality and interest ladder as well in my personal opinion.
Progmessor: May 2021
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