There is nothing more disheartening than scanning across the spectrum of the FM dial on the car radio and finding absolutely nothing worth listening to. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to add another monthly service charge to my already stretched paycheck for XM or Sirius satellite radio on the outside chance that I’ll find something to satisfy my progressive rock cravings. And the unfortunate reality is I’ll probably still come up short.
So the possibility is non-existent that at this very instant on some US highway a lucky listener is discovering the amazing Polish progressive rock ensemble Quidam, even though their latest CD “Alone Together” was clearly one of the best releases of 2007.
And that’s a real tragedy.
The origin of the group’s name is explained on their website: “The name of the group originates from the Latin word “quidam” meaning “someone, a human being” and refers to the poem “Quidam” by Cyprian Kamil Norwid, perhaps the most intriguing of the Polish romantic poets. The title hero of that poem is a man looking for his place in life, searching for goodness and truth.”
And the lyrical romance and dynamic instrumental passion of the band Quidam aptly represents the inspired works of the Polish poet.
The band was originally formed in 1991 with members Maciek Meller, Radek Scholl and Rafal Jermakow as a hard rock blues band; but after a series of personnel changes, most notably flautist Ewa Smarzyska, the group adopted a new sophisticated symphonic philosophy shared by the likes of Camel, early Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and Renaissance, among others.
“Alone Together” marks the group’s 8th release – and clearly best. The 9 tunes on the CD are a collection of catchy hook laden melodies augmented by lush instrumental arrangements and propelled by the outstanding vocal work of Bartosz Kossowicz.
And for those inclined to dismiss foreign groups who struggle to sing in English phonetically rather than in their native tongue, let me assure you, this is not the case. Bartosz has little hint of an accent, and the clumsy juxtaposition of words or phrases which often happens when translating a foreign language into English is non-existent.
The music on “Alone Together” is far more reminiscent of the early solo albums of Fish than Camel, Crimson, Genesis, or Floyd. The compositions bare an uncanny familiarity to Fish’s “Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors” and “Internal Exile”; although the over all lyrical content is vastly different. This may be an intentional homage, since there are inflections in Bartosz voice that harkens back to Fish and the Fish era Marillion tunes.
But the main difference is that Fish was in a foul and somewhat bitter state of mind during the recording of those first few albums, which reflected in the over all tone of the lyrics – whereas Quidam are of a positive and somewhat romantic penchant. The music is uplifting and very easy to latch onto from the very first listen.
Normally I’d point out the highlights of a CD, but the truth is, each track is an infectious earwig which will stay with you long after the CD has ended. Not a dud or weak spot on the album; making this easily one of my favorite releases of 2007.
The current line-up consists of Bartosz Kossowicz (vocals, backing vocals), Zbyszek Florek (keyboards), Maciej Wroblewski (drums, percussion), Maciek Meller (guitar), Mariusz Ziolkowski (bass), and Jacek Zasada (flutes).
A Rock Solid 10 Rating!
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on February 19th, 2008