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Wojciech Ciuraj - 2020 - "Dwa Zywioly"

(47:32; Emet Records)


1. W Szorstkim Tancu Na Dwa 4:39
2. Dwa Zywioly 6:57
3. Jestem Stad 7:57
4. Andrzej Mielecki 4:11
5. Suita Czterech Rzek 23:48


Wojciech Ciuraj - guitars, mandolin, vocals
Abradab - vocals
Piotr Schmidt - trumpet
Daniel Arendarski - guitars
Dawid Makosz - keyboards
Jacek Szula - harmonica
Valyen Songbird - vocals
Klaudia Wachtarczyk - bass
Dawid Klimuszko - drums

Prolusion. Polish composer and musician Wojciech CIURAJ may perhaps not be the most high profile artist around the world, but among fans of progressive rock some may recall him being a member of the band Walfad that appeared a few years back. From 2016 and onward he has also had an active solo career going, with three albums released so far. "Dwa Zywioly" is the most recent of these, and was released in the summer of 2020 through Ciuraj's own label Emet Records.

Analysis. This latest album by Ciuraj is a concept album, and in fact the second album in a planned trilogy, where the concept explored are some rather important events in Polish history. For those with a special interest in history, Ciuraj has been kind enough to explain the events in liner notes in both Polish and English, and all the song lyrics are available in Polish and English versions too. So why the language of the album is Polish, people that do not master that language have been catered for here. In terms of the music itself, I think the best description here is that the album covers quite a few varieties of progressive rock, and that the material by and large is open, inviting and relatively broadly compelling. Opening cut 'W Szorstkim Tancu Na Dwa' contains musical ideas many fans of early 80's Rush will find familiar, while the title track 'Dwa Zywioly' is a creation that resides more closely to the landscapes explored by Gilmour era Pink Floyd. 'Jestem Stad' opens in a more laid back, jazz-oriented manner, segueing over to landscapes closer to both jazzrock and neo-progressive rock along the way, while 'Andrzej Mielecki' features brooding cinematic sounds, post-rock tinged details and sections more in line with indie and alternative rock. Then there's the massive, almost 24 minute epic 'Suita Czterech Rzek' that concludes this album. A multiple part construction where Ciuraj showcase to an even greater extent that he doesn't care all that much about genre limitation and style orientation. Traces of many of the aforementioned bands are present here as well as possible style references, but also with blues based hard rock, a more intense part bordering progressive metal, some delicate folk music oriented escapades, subtly dramatic orchestral driven surges and quite a few additional bits and pieces. Impressively assembled into a cohesive unity too, and developed well enough to be able to maintain interest too, even for those who are unable to understand the language. Quite the magnum opus this one, and in a good way at that. Mix and production are well executed throughout, Ciuraj's subtly raspy and well controlled vocals are used effectively and within his range capabilities, occasionally backed by female backing vocalists that mainly have nonverbal functions from what I could hear, and with some nice touches in the instrument department from both the harmonica and the trumpet to boot. "Dwa Zywioly" strikes me as a well made, well executed, strong and solid album. Perhaps not in an album of the year context, but most certainly as a good example of what a quality, well made progressive rock album as of 2020 may be.

Conclusion. While this latest solo album of Wojciech Ciuraj is a production that doesn't really stay put into any specific part of the progressive rock universe, my personal opinion is that fans of neo-progressive rock may well be the ones that grasps this production most easily. Not because this album is all that similar in style, but because of the creative, playful spirit applied and the atmospheric laden, mood-oriented compositions that make up this production. Fans of early 80's era Rush may also find the music here to be intriguing, and history buffs and concept album aficionados will obviously be an audience that will appreciate this CD too.

Progmessor: January 2021
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Wojciech Ciuraj Emet Records


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