Another project featuring Wojtek Szadkowski is always welcome in my book. He was a founding member of the Polish band Collage, whose 1994 Neo-Prog/Symphonic Rock album Moonshine would easily make a top ten list of the greatest Neo albums for me. He then went on to form Satellite with some of the same members, and has found time for side projects Peter Pan and Strawberry Fields as well. This is yet another of those projects, and it is excellent.
It seems much more drumcentric than some of Wotjek’s work. Interesting, as drums are his primary intstrument. “Magic,” the eleven minute opener begins with what sounds almost like a toy piano and is very lullaby-like. It then crashes into a tribal drum section that recalls Peter Gabriel and Talking Heads 80s work at the same time. You’re left scratching your head and saying “How did I get here?” like you were having a “Once In A Lifetime” experience. It’s exciting how the band builds a groove with superior dynamics. You are taken from quiet passages to grand instrumental passages, always heavy on the beat.
Wotjek uses his Strawberry Fields singer for Travellers, and she sounds wonderful on songs like “Letters to God” and “I See the Light.” Robin’s voice is similar to Enya or Kate Bush, but I’m thinking of a more obscure reference with Jane Siberry (Remember “Calling All Angels,” or her early 80s albums?). Robin is not the star in this project however, as the percussion and the “push & pull” nature of the song are the leading light here. Wotjek has once again turned in a superior effort in songwriting and execution, and it’s a stroke of genius to bring in long friend and guitarist Grzegorz Leczkowski. He helps drive the more rhythmic nature of the proceedings and possesses a style unlike most of the Hackett or Gilmour inspired players in the prog world today. He even throws in a few great hooks here and there, listen towards the end of closer “The Sun.”
I don’t think you can go wrong with anything Wotjek Szadkowski is involved in. Everything I’ve heard from Collage, Satellite, Mr. Gil, etc has been extremely listenable and some are among the best Progressive rock records I own. A Journey to the Sun Within will easily make my top ten this year. Give it an listen yourself and see if you’re not impressed.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on January 6th, 2012