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Osada Vida - Overall Review

Prolusion. The Polish band OSADA VIDA has existed since the late ‘90s. Before they signed to their native Metal Mind label in 2007 they had recorded three albums, but I won’t list them, since none are regarded as official releases, unlike their latest two outings, “Three Seats behind a Triangle” and “The Body Parts Party”, both of which saw the light of day last year, both of which are to be viewed in this writing (or within this page, if you will), but separately, of course.


Osada Vida - 2008 - "Three Seats behind a Triangle"

(78:33, Metal Mind Records)

******
TRACK LIST:

1.  The Passion 1:42 
2.  Colours & Notes 6:14 
3.  Unlimited Mind 6:20 
4.  The Decision 4:49 
5.  After Hours 6:43 
6.  Flying Time 5:53 
7.  Tension Blossoms 5:09 
8.  Everyday Ltd 6:48 
9.  Boiling Point 5:51 
10. Bitterly Disappointed 5:45 
11. The Rebirth of Passion 8:10
12. In-s-Thru’-Mental 4:55 
13. Don't Shut the Door 10:00

LINEUP:

Lukasz Lisiak – bass; vocals
Adam Podzimski – drums
Bartek Bereska – guitars
Rafal Paluszek – synthesizers, organ, Mellotron
Analysis. “Three Seats behind a Triangle” is a concept album, most of its thirteen tracks having no pauses between them, most of those, in turn, sounding quite much like the sequels of their predecessors. Though not completely uniform in style, it has a surprisingly coherent overall appearance, since the tracks that reflect the band’s two different sides of approach – the first four and the last eight, respectively – yes, strictly follow one another, the fifth one serving as a kind of divide between them. Titled After Hours, it starts and unfolds as AC/DC-style hooligan Metal, but otherwise the music is basically both moderately soft and slow which, however, doesn’t mean it is instantly accessible. Besides, there are quite a few effective acoustic and electric guitar leads that often cross each other in a fairly intricate manner. The first of the implied sets of compositions includes The Passion, Colours & Notes, Unlimited Mind and The Decision and comes across as one monolithic symphonic prog-metal suite with a strong gothic feel to it, though there are also a few semi-acoustic interludes all of which are additionally filled with a distinctly vintage aura. The four band members all appear to be main moving forces here. Just listen to how expertly both guitarist Bartek Bereska and keyboardist Rafal Paluszek deliver staccato riffs to punctuate the complicated stop-to-play movements providing by drummer Adam Podzimski and bassist/singer Lukasz Lisiak – and there are quite a few such maneuvers in this set. As well as most of the others, the first four songs are largely-to-even-more-so instrumental, their abundance in intricate, metrically complex, arrangements helping the listener to take the (infrequent, at times Phil Collins-sounding) vocals in a better way than, well, they could have been otherwise. In short, a brilliant bass player and a gifted lyricist, Lukasz fails as a vocalist. I’m not the one to judge whether his accent is heavy, but nobody needs a stethoscope to realize that his lungs aren’t voluminous enough to sing deeply, emotionally and expressively, so he doesn’t shine in this field, in any of these aspects. There are only two pieces on the disc that are relatively vocals-oriented, namely Everyday Ltd and The Rebirth of Passion, both being a bit less to my liking than the others. On the instrumental plane, however, these are on a par with the other tracks, among which, in turn, I would hardly pick any as an absolute winner, even though two of those, Boiling Point and In-s-Thru’-Mental, are free of any singing. Save the first third of the aforesaid ‘dividing’ piece, all the compositions are compelling, perhaps equally, revealing from time to time a sense of mystery, as well as signs of what we used to call magic. The emotional palette of the album’s second conventional part is painted with dark colors only within the prog-metal and related moves whose quantity isn’t that great on any of the tracks from that category. Proving Prog-Metal isn’t the only genre he feels comfortable within, Bartek covers several more stylistic terrains here: from reflective, yet truly passionate, classically-bluesy soloing patterns (Everyday Ltd, Boiling Point and Bitterly Disappointed), to effective purely acoustic passages (Flying Time and Tension Blossoms, in the flamenco fashion on the last of these), to intricate art-rock-ish moves, as well as explosive, impetuous, leads with metal-like overtones – on all the #-2-style compositions, the three remaining tracks (The Rebirth of Passion, In-s-Thru’-Mental and Don't Shut the Door) included, for sure. There is also a distinct symphonic, often typically vintage, quality to each of these pieces, as well as some-to-certain (or rather more often latent than overt) jazzy tendencies, most obvious in the piano passages by Rafal who, therefore, by adding that, another specific, element to the band’s overall style, quite notably contributes to its broadening, also. Without specifying their personal acts in this, generally speaking, particular case I nonetheless must note that the bassist and the drummer are both extremely important re their partners’ aforementioned progress. As to the arrangements, here they seem to be somewhat less intricate than you know where, but then they’re just striking for their thematic, structural and, proper, stylistic diversity.

Conclusion. I could have used some reference points in this writing, but I didn’t. It’s obvious to me that these Polish musicians, while resting upon Progressive Rock's and Metal’s past achievements, do all their best to avoid similarities with any of the genres’ particular representatives. This long, a kind of double LP, recording has surprisingly few weak spots which, moreover, are as if fading away in its overall musical grandeur. I believe it’s clear why I can’t give it a status of a complete masterpiece, by adding an exclamation mark to its rating, but the originality and the refinement that it shines with throughout leave it no chance to escape from falling :-) into my Top-20 chart of the year.


Osada Vida - 2008 - "The Body Parts Party"

(57:23, Metal Mind Records)

*****+
TRACK LIST:

1.  Body 6:42 
2.  Liver 8:58 
3.  Brain 4:21
4.  Tongue 7:40
5.  Spine 6:54 
6.  Heart 5:12 
7.  Muscle 6:25
8.  Bone 11:04 

LINEUP: same
Analysis. “The Body Parts Party” has quite a few similarities with Osada Vida’s first official outing, but is fairly rich in novelties as well. With few organ leads and no mellotron patterns at all, this recording is quite poor in distinctly vintage colorations which, though, does not affect me in any way, since no modern tendencies are to be found here either, the band’s overall sound still having predominantly a strong analog quality to it. Of the eight tracks presented, one is an unvocal piece (Spine), one contains minor singing (Bone), while all the others are about equally rich in purely instrumental and vocals-laden arrangements. However, the most striking distinctions between the creations are yet to be disclosed. Just like on its predecessor, the compositions on this CD are basically of the two types of approach also, but in this particular case the difference between the categories is simply tremendous. It’s enough to read about the second conventional set of compositions in the above writing to have a comparatively clear idea of the following five tracks: Liver, Muscle, Tongue, Body and the aforesaid Spine, of which the first three all have, say, their own sections that are dominated by guitar and piano passages delivered in the manner of Blues, and since those are part of each of the different-approach pieces also (in other words, due to their weight on both the albums), they definitely should be regarded as one of the ‘trademark’ constituents of the band’s overall style. Obviously, Lukasz Lisiak has worked on improving himself as a vocalist, but since he is naturally (or physically, as mentioned in the previous review) not too fit for singing, the result isn’t that convincing either. His vocals either appear as both conventional and fairly featureless or tend to be in the Pink Floyd style – constantly on both Tongue and Bone, and occasionally on two more pieces. Besides, the song-based moves on this outing aren’t as complicated as those on “Three Seats behind a Triangle,” in fact far from it, coming as they do not without repeats in addition. So it’s for the most part only the quartet’s all-instrumental expeditions that are filled with what I learned to know from the band’s previous effort as their best tendencies, especially within the hard-edged arrangements where, propelled by the power delivered by the rhythm section, the interplay between guitar and keyboards is truly absorbing and so extremely impressive, too. The three slow-paced pieces, Brain, Heart and Bone, cover three eighths of this eight-track recording, but don’t worry much. While the writing is accessible overall, all these selections are quite tasty as well as original pieces, with some undercurrents (the aforementioned bluesy moves, interlaced acoustic guitar and piano passages, and the addition of spacey-atmospheric landscapes – to the last track) which make each appear to be somewhat weightier than a conventional art-rock ballad.

Conclusion. The second Osada Vida effort is inferior to their debut in complexity and, partly, in originality as well. Nevertheless I find it to be noticeably better than a merely decent effort. I only can hope that my critical remarks will motivate the band to return to their original style, but the employment of a new, preferably free, singer is a necessity in any event.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: January 11 & 14, 2009


Related Links:

Metal Mind Records
Osada Vida


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