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(48:50, Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Etiuda Trance 3:18 2. Los Czlowieka 4:47 3. Red Joe 6:28 4. Swieto Dioni 2:51 5. Szczescie Jak Na Dloni 5:04 6. Doliny Strumieni 5:01 7. Karida Beach 4:16 8. Blue Trance 3:44 9. Musniecie Kalimby 3:45 10. Pamieci Czas 4:39 11. Coda Trance 4:57 LINEUP: Jozef Skrzek – bass; keyboards; vocals Apostolis Anthymos – guitars Gabor Nemeth – drums
Prolusion. The Polish act SBB has been actively releasing material since the first half of the 70's, and has gone from being veterans to becoming an institution in their home country. The band has had its breaks along the way, but for the last decade or so they have been a vital force in their native art rock scene. "Blue Trance" is their most recent studio effort, and was released by the Polish label Metal Mind towards the end of 2010.
Analysis. SBB is a band best known for its high quality symphonic art rock escapades, with keyboardist Skrzek providing a minor plethora of textures from his assembly of keyboards - the driving force of their music, while guitarist Anthymos most often will care for the finer details, and whatever drummer is in the band, caters for pace and momentum. At least as I know this act, I'm no expert on their exploits by far and have still to sample the majority of their back catalogue. The CDs and DVD's by them I have encountered have given me that impression however, and it is from that point of view I look at their most recent creation. One which I believe is something of a novelty among their albums. My main impression of "Blue Trance" is that it's a disc that by right should be sorted in the adult contemporary section of music shops rather than progressive rock. The compositions are short, rather straight forward affairs that by and large fall short of any description verging on innovative and adventurous. Stellar instrumental performances and top notch production are the main assets to be found, and those who enjoy melodic rock with a certain timeless sheen will find much to enjoy. But art rock fans in general and the ones with a taste for the symphonic variety of it in particular will find this effort lacking, most likely. Relatively simple themes are the name of the game here, recurring and repeated in an easy to predict manner. Gentle, dampened keyboard textures hover in the background, while the piano and guitar cater for the core melodic theme, the latter most often with light toned, undistorted guitar licks. Additional flavoring is an area most often catered for by Anthymos too, with dream-laden, drawn out guitar notes and soloing exploring the gently resonating sounds the preferred weapon of choice. Minor instrumental details scattered throughout do testify to a band that have plenty of potential to craft material of a more sophisticated and complex manner, but this time around they opt for the approach of relative simplicity. And while I'll admit that this disc by and large will sit quite finely in the nice and pleasant category, side by side with material I'll encounter on whatever Classic Rock format radio that should happen to be nearby, there are a few pieces that have just a bit more of an art rock touch to them. Opening track Etiuda Trance is the first of these, sporting marching rhythms harmonizing quite nicely with guitar riffs following a similar pattern while richly textured keyboard patterns fluctuate and solo on top, the gentle but effective fusion light style explored on Musniecie Kalimby. And best of all, and a real album highlight for me personally, final track Coda Trance that at least in the arrangements heads straight into the heartland of the symphonic art rock universe, sporting richly layered dark and light keyboard patterns contrasting each other almost to perfection and managing to craft a somber and ominous mood, with quite a few at times highly intriguing instrument workouts courtesy of Anthymos and Nemeth as effective seasoning, the exploits of the latter highly intriguing for anyone with more than a passing interest in the rhythms department.
Conclusion. A few art rock tinged exceptions aside, what SBB offers up with "Blue Trance" is a slice of high quality craftsmanship in the melodic rock department, sophisticated soft rock a description that should describe the contents in an easily understandable manner. A CD to pick up if you enjoy timeless classics of the kind classic rock oriented radio stations prefer to fill the airwaves with; more advanced musically, but adhering to that style of music to a much greater extent than progressive rock per se.
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