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Tracklist: 1. Letter From the Desert (inst.) 6:12 2. Still Waiting 4:48 3. No Quarter 11:44 4. New Name 4:45 5. For Agape 5:00 6. The Time Beneath the Sky (31:22): a) Credo-I 8:04 b) Credo-II (inst.) 5:13 c) In the Labyrinth of Thoughts 4:31 d) Quimpromptu (inst.) 9:35 e) Time Beneath the Sky 3:59 All tracks by Florek & Meller, except 2 & 6-c by Florek, Meller, & Derkowska; 6-d by Quidam; 3-d by J. P. Jones, J. Page, & R. Plant (of Led Zeppelin). Line-up: Zbyszek Florek - acoustic piano, analog & digital keyboards Maciek Meller - electric & acoustic guitars Emila Derkowska - lead & backing vocals Rafal Jermakow - drums & percussion Radek Scholl - bass guitar Jacek Zasada - flute Guest musicians: Monika Margielewska - oboe (on 1) Milosz Gawrylkiewicz - flugelhorn (on 2) Robert Amirian - mandolin (on 5) Michal Maciejwski - accordion (on 5) Grzegorz Nadoiny - bass (on 6-c) Produced by Z. Florek. Recorded & mixed by Z. Florek mainly at "Islands" studio, Inowroclaw, Poland.
Prologue. "The Time Beneath the Sky" is Quidam's third full-fledged studio CD (I think there's no need to count all of their albums, especially the other-language duplications: see discography below). Unfortunately, I haven't heard this band before. According to (all!) the reviews that I read of it, both the previous albums by Quidam feature Neo Progressive of a highest quality. This time, for some reason, I don't see any reasons not to believe the majority opinion. (Sorry for the intentional tautology…) To be precise, though, seeing the 31-minute epic composition in the CD track list, I think that this should be a good album, at least.
The Album. Alas, unfortunately, this time my premonition let me down completely, and "The Time Beneath the Sky" turned out to be an album of quite an ordinary Neo. Also, I was really surprised to hear the singing in Polish on the album (the only exception being Led Zeppelin's No Quarter), since all the so-called details, including lyrics, are exclusively in English in the CD booklet! By the way, the Polish and Russian languages are in many ways similar among themselves. So generally, I comprehended the lyrical concept of the album almost immediately, and I have to say that I don't like the lyric lyrics. (Sorry for a necessary tautology…) Well, here is my honest opinion on the contents of this album. Compositionally, "The Time Beneath the Sky" is, overall, instantly accessible, I'd even say, very simple album. While structurally, it looks rather motley. Nevertheless, the chameleon's laws of Neo (the law-making law-breaker, huh!) dominate almost everywhere on this album. Quidam's rendition of Led Zeppelin's No Quarter is one of the three (out of the ten) compositions on "The Time Beneath the Sky" that I really liked despite the fact that it is far from being as great as the original. Surprisingly, the album's opening track, Letter From the Desert, turned out to be the best and the only classic composition on it. As well as No Quarter, it features the alternation of heavy and symphonic textures and, stylistically, represents a real, thoughtful and diverse, Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal. The first half of this musical message from some of one Poland's desert (my inner voice is asking me, what I am driveling about now) is filled with wonderful flavors of music of East. Also, the first one third of this instrumental piece contains excellent vocalizes. For the most part, though, Emila's vocals are of a romantically optimistic nature on this album. For Agape (i.e. For a Pure Love, 5) is the last decent song on "The Time Beneath the Sky". Although this is a rather typical Neo song, as well as Credo-I (6-a), thanks to the presence of folksy tunes in its compositional 'scheme' For Agape sounds much more original than its follow-up. Really, Credo-I represents kind of a stylistic cocktail where the band's own, original ideas are intermixed with those borrowed from Marillion's "Misplaced Childhood" and "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd. Of course, saying so, I imply only instrumental canvas (above all, the parts of guitar), since Emila's voice is certainly different from that of Fish or Peter Gabriel. The beginning of the instrumental Credo-II (6-b) also reproduces the tense, spacey symphonic, atmosphere that is featured on an instrumental piece placed in the middle of side A of the "Misplaced Childhood" LP. (While that piece, in its turn, was borrowed by Marillion from "Dark Side of the Moon"!) The remaining instrumental, Quimpromptu (which probably means Quidam's Impromptu, 6-d), is just incredibly plain and straightforward. This is perhaps the most monotonous and boring progressive instrumental I've ever heard. (Though it would fit well for some mediocre ambient album. Did they really perform it impromptu? Fantastic!) All four of the remaining tracks, namely Still Waiting, New Name, In the Labyrinth of Thoughts, and The Time Beneath the Sky (2, 4, 6-c, & 6-e), aren't marked with traces of influences, though in this very case it doesn't matter at all. Each of these four ballads is so improperly simple and sugary that I would not dare to call them even Neo.
Summary. I am almost sure that none of the classic (or profound, if you will) Prog lovers will be able to listen to "The Time Beneath the Sky" more than once, as there are no secret places on this album. And you, those who're into a classic Neo Progressive (can I say so? at least once?), do not expect to hear here something close to Landmarq, Arena, etc, not to mention such giants as the guys at the "Giant Electric Pea" label (no tautologies here). As for the other Neo-heads and the fans of Quidam, in my opinion, they should like both of the previous albums by the band more than this one. As for me, I regret that the commercialization of contemporary Progressive Rock movement grows by leaps and bounds in the new millennium.
VM. August 14, 2002
1996 - "Quidam" ("Ars Mundi") 1998 - "Angels' Dreams" ("Rock-Serwis" & "Musea") 2002 - "The Time Beneath the Sky" ("Rock-Serwis" & "Musea")
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