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Sandstone - 2006 - "Looking for Myself"

(55 min, Progrock)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                    

1.  Like a Thought 9:12
2.  Keep the Faith 9:53
3.  Looking for Myself 15:20
4.  Youth 5:10
5.  Birth of My Soul 7:38
6.  Sunrise 7:52

LINEUP:

Jarek Niecikowski - guitars
Grzegorz Marecik - keyboards
Marcin Zmorzynski - vocals
Marcin Mathiak - basses 
Arkadiusz Magner - drums 

Prolusion. Poland was always rich in progressive talents, and after the deconstruction of Czechoslovakia it easily took the leading position in the East European Prog Rock movement. SANDSTONE is just one of several dozens of the genre's units that came out from this country in the new millennium. This is a young band, counting only four years of its existence. In 2004 they started recording their first full-length album "Looking for Myself". The material was completed this last January, and just three months later it saw the light of day as an official CD release, via the Californian ProgRock label.

Analysis. Inasmuch as Sandstone are strongly influenced by Dream Theater, one may easily label them as descendants of the past, while in my view, this concept isn't too relevant nowadays - when most, if not all, of the artists working in the field of any of the oldest three progressive genres (Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion and Prog-Metal) are forced to reap the fruits of, well, ascendants. In any event murder will out, and even a cursory acquaintance with "Looking for Myself" will instantly convince you that this album and "Images & Words" are in many ways one of a kind. On the other hand, the resemblance is striking mainly only on the stylistic level, and while Jarek Niecikowski and Grzegorz Marecik are the same for Sandstone as John Petrucci and Kevin Moore are for Dream Theater, none of the themes on this release, not to mention solos, sounds as if borrowed, though the most original voice in this ensemble would probably be singer Marcin Zmorzynski. Sandstone execute perfectly everything the style they've chosen demands from them and are almost in every respect on a par with their mighty benefactors, that very sharp-cut technical filigree included. Much of the music is abundant in all those essential progressive features that are familiar to anybody and are typical of Dream Theater in particular. So I won't list them and will just touch on the songs' compositional peculiarities. Four of the six tracks present are notable for genuinely large-scaled instrumental palettes, the number of instrumental sections noticeably exceeding that of vocal ones. Three of them, Like a Thought, Birth of My Soul and Looking for Myself, are classic quasi-symphonic Prog-Metal at probably its most intricate and adventurous. It is no surprise that the 15-minute title track is the most variegated, but in the final analysis all three are equally compelling. Keep the Faith isn't rich in a cascade of events or performance pyrotechnics, unlike the aforementioned songs, but it's still full of subtle nuances and is the freshest in sound in addition, some of the primary guitar lines being atypical of the style, as they are rooted in Blues. No rhythm section on Youth, only imaginative piano passages and, still bluesy, guitar solos evolving independently and alongside the vocals as well. Sunrise concludes the album on an optimistic note both musically and lyrically (the hero has finally found what he was always eager for in his subconscious - love, surely!) and is the only track that I am not enthusiastic about at all. This is a lightened version of the primary style, a sort of excessively romantic Neo with only a touch of Prog-Metal. Potential hit.

Conclusion. Sandstone is a group of competent musicians, who have reached maturity in their chosen bag already on their first recording. While certainly not a milestone in the development of the genre, "Looking for Myself" is nonetheless a highly impressive debut. No need to be a prophet to foretell that it will have a thorough success in the Prog-Metal community and will be a dainty dish for any fan of Dream Theater-style music.

VM: May 5, 2006


Related Links:

ProgRock Records
Sandstone


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