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(65 min, Metal Mind)
TRACK LIST: 1. Evening Games 16:45 2. Never-Never 7:03 3. Rush 5:48 4. Love Is Around You 5:39 5. Why 6:59 6. Beautiful World 9:01 7. Evening Overture 10:38 8. Take It As It Is 2:49 All tracks: by Szadkowski. Produced by Szadkowski & Palczewski. LINEUP: Wojtek Szadkowski - drums; acoustic guitar Krzysiek Palczewski - keyboards Robert Amirian - vocals Sarhan Kubeisi - guitars Przemek Zawadski - bass
Prolusion. SATELLITE is a Polish band, led by drummer, composer, and lyricist Wojtek Szadkowski and featuring most if not all of the members of another well-known outfit from that country, Collage, Wojtek included. So at least in some ways, Satellite can be considered Collage's reincarnation, especially since Wojtek was a primary mastermind behind that band too. "Evening Games" is the second album by Satellite. I've heard their debut CD, "A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset" (2003), and found it an excellent album.
Analysis. Just like its predecessor, "Evening Games" is an album, all the contents of which are to a great extent submitted to a unified stylistic concept. Overall, this is an elegant, high-quality Neo Art-Rock, with the prevalence of symphonic textures and with the enough quantity of elements of the genre's classic manifestation to interest even the snobs. But of course, it could have not managed without some variations, and the most pronounced of them concerns the title track. It rarely occurs that the proponents of Neo would open their album with the longest and most complex composition, instead of closing it in such a way. Satellite took a brave step having placed Evening Games at the very beginning of the material. Greatly appreciated. This 17-minute ('sidelong') suite is a gem of classic symphonic Art-Rock, with plenty of unexpected, strikingly non-typical decisions, and is the band's best work to date. I would say that already the epic makes the album worthy of buying, but it wouldn't sound convincing, inasmuch as it's not a LP and runs for more than an hour. But as implied above, the entire album is practically flawless. Just as their titles suggest, Evening Games and Evening Overture (which is the second longest track here) are in many ways kindred compositions, and the fact that the latter is a bit inferior to the former concerns only the lesser amount of separate instrumental sections here, while the arrangements as such remain diverse and saturated throughout. Sarhan Kubeisi tirelessly racks his guitar, aspiring to enter the Prog-Metal-related territory and, at times, succeeding in that, particularly on Why and Beautiful World, both featuring a few excellent instrumental interludes, but not only that. Like the title track, these two also abound in innovative ideas, which mostly reveal themselves in the Cathedral Metal textures, which, in turn, form nearly half of the contents of each. It's easy to perceive them as the coexisting kingdoms of softness and harshness. On the remaining four tracks: Never-Never, Rush, Love Is Around You and Take It As It Is, the latter two being symphonic Art-Rock ballads, the band much more often walks the path paved by Marillion. But they never sink to the level of blind followers of the Neo heroes, not to say imitators. This group not only has their own vision of the style, but is also seeking for ways of its further development. Drummer Wojtek Szadkowski, keyboardist Krzysiek Palczewski and guitarist Sarhan Kubeisi are the key personages (I'd say soloing forces) responsible for imparting the freshness to Satellite's sound. The style that these guys, especially Sarhan and Wojtek, play their instruments in does not have analogs. Back to the material: The sounds of vintage Hammond and Mellotron are mainly typical only for both of the 'evening' epics, while those of piano and the ARP-like string ensemble are widespread on the album, the latter bringing a certain classical feel to those tracks that they are used more often on. These are Never-Never and Rush, and in addition, they are notable for the highly realistically delivered sounds of solos of congas, vibes and other mallet percussion, which have to do more with quasi Jazz-Fusion than Art-Rock. So I won't side with those trying to squeeze this band into the framework of Neo without any reservations. I'd only recommend that Robert not stop in polishing up his English pronunciation.
Conclusion. This is a blamelessly stylish and beautiful music, like Marillion's "Clutching at Straws", for instance, which I bought sixteen years ago and still listen to with pleasure. At least at the moment, I experience the same feelings about Satellite's "Evening Games". The more I listen to it the more positive sensations it evokes. The thoughtfulness of composition, the specific 'epic' atmosphere, the dramatics of musical events and the high performance mastery - these are the album's principal aspects that will certainly make it a dainty dish for many Prog lovers.
VM: June 3, 2005
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