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(63:12, Rock-Serwis Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Different 3:16 2. Kinds of Solitude at Night 6:00 3. Depicting Colours of Emotions 10:18 4. They are There to Remind Us 7:49 5. Of Illusions 8:04 6. We Lost 8:26 7. One Day We Find 6:46 8. We are Alone Together 8:20 9. PS But Strong Together 4:25 LINEUP: Zbyczek Florek – keyboards Maciek Meller – guitars; b/v Marisucz Ziolkowski – bass; b/v Bartek Kossowicz – lead vocals Maciek Wroblewski – drums Jacek Zasada – flutes With: Piotr Rogoz – bamboo flute; zither &: A few more additional musicians
Prolusion. Released last November, “Alone Together” is the fifth studio CD by Poland’s QUIDAM, and the other four are as follows: “SurREvival” (2005), “The Time beneath the Sky” (2002), “Angel’s Dreams” (1998) and “Quidam” (1996), the band having three live recordings in addition. The hero of this occasion is a concept album, whose nine tracks are all lyrically linked between themselves. Musically this is also a highly coherent material, although its stylistic palette isn’t homogeneous.
Analysis. You see I’ve given this CD the highest possible rating, and therefore I can lay my cards on the table already now: I find “Alone Together” to be Quidam’s most progressive effort to date as well as one of the most memorable of last year’s releases. Much of the conventional neo features of earlier creations are discarded in favor of a full-bodied progressive rock sound, the number of tracks with veritably complex arrangements having grown compared even to those on the preceding recording, which otherwise is in many ways similar to this one. What makes “Alone Together” an absolute winner to my ears is that the music here is strong throughout, all songs being near-irresistible regardless of any differences between them, since all are marked with a sign of musical magic, the balladic Different and the atmospheric We are Alone Together included. Even of these two, most transparent, pieces, neither focuses heavily on lyrics, each featuring a few different instrumental interludes. Take note of what’s been said and guess what the rest of the material should be about. It is certainly not a crime to draw parallels between Quidam and some of their famous predecessors, but before expressing my views in this respect I have to note that the majority of the band’s influences have been either heavily modified or intermixed with their own ideas during their long period of evolution, so few overt signs of outside factors can be found here, particularly on the disc’s second half. Besides those of, say, the most detectable reference points, namely Marillion’s “Afraid of Sunlight” and “Brave” (which I consider to be their creative peak) as well as “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd, I also hear some echoes of Dream Theater here and there, and am even reminded one time of Air Dance from Black Sabbath’s “Never Say Die” – during the piano-laden jazz-fusion interlude in the middle of They are There to Remind Us, to be more precise. The fifth track, Of Illusions, is distinguished from the others by its central section where the congas and flute interlace with each other into a swirling fusionesque dance with a pronounced sense of Arabic music. Finally the closing movement of We Lost, which is uncommonly intense and speedy, is at times also flavored with jazzy colorations, provided by a guest saxophone player. Unlike the first of these three songs, the last two, while sounding fairly heavy in places, are both devoid of a distinct prog-metal component, so They Are There to Remind Us appears to be the most stylistically varied track here. From a general progressive viewpoint, however, all are on a par with each other as well as with Depicting Colours of Emotions and One Day We Find, both of which, besides varied art-rock arrangements, reveal quite a good number of maneuvers within progressive doom-metal terrain. Running for over 40 minutes (all being located right in the middle of the album), the five previously described compositions are uniformly brilliant overall, showing that their makers are not afraid of dense multi-layered arrangements with complex architecture and aren’t strangers to classic Prog in general. Of the remaining two tracks, Kinds of Solitude at Night and But Strong Together, the first is a quasi-reflective piece with hints of both Pink Floyd and Marillion, while the latter blends together symphonic and vintage hard rock aesthetics, evoking no direct associations, as well as most of the other contents of the disc’s second half. I see I already begin repeating myself, so it’s apparently the time to take off. No, a few words about the lead vocals as the curtain falls: IMHO, the Emila Derkowski-fronted Quidam had a somewhat tepid sound, lacking in energy in its vocal angle, while Bartek Kossowicz has added an essential masculine element to it. He is an excellent vocalist with a solid voice range, who seems to be in his best form to date on this disc, more often having an original prog-metal-like quality to his singing than being reminiscent of a gruffer version of Steve Hogarth. To be fair, however, I must admit I’m most of all impressed with Jacek Zasada’s flute playing here.
Conclusion. Charm is the key word for “Alone Together”, which is surprisingly fairly accessible and simply compelling at once, possessing the many marvelous features that determine the seemingly everlasting attraction of vintage progressive rock music. This, Quidam’s latest, recording is a convincing proof that the band, which has been on the run since the mid-90s, not only continues progressing, but gets even better with years. Top-20-2007
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