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Strawberry Fields - Rivers Gone Dry CD (album) cover


Strawberry Fields


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3.99 | 29 ratings

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4 stars This is a cool modern recording, a total reversal of the usual Wojtek Szadkowski catalogue of adventurous "neo-Prog" as expressed by the classic Collage, its luxuriantly bold offspring Satellite and the harder-edged distant cousin Peter Pan. Here the supremely talented drummer/songwriter/producer/keyboardist decides to branch into groove-oriented music that is closer to Massive Attack/Portishead, all due to the supremely expressive voice of Robin (née Marta Kniewska), another pretender to the rich female prog vocalist throne that seems quite gilded in Poland (Quidam, Caamora, Nemezis, Albion). The Satellite crew is on hand, guitarist Sarhan chopping adroitly, bassist Jarek Michalski thumping with authority and our fave drummer pounding most convincingly. The melodies and their delivery are immense, each piece very memorable in its own right yet strangely noncommercial. Both "Your Story" and "Close" are punchy little prog-pop ditties that immediately latch onto the pleasure nodes, while the majestic title track is a more experimental adventure , a deep-felt dirge with massive doses of symphonic keyboard washes, colossal voice choirs and elegant piano interventions, all swarmed by synthetic string synth swaths. This is certainly closer to mind-numbing electro-prog, warm robotics not withstanding. An intricate piece that has tinges of Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Jane Siberry, the Beatles and the previously named Massive Attack. "Fool" is minimalist at first, a clear platform for Robin's voice emulations, woven into an exploding swarm of repetitive drums, sustained guitar flicks and a rotund bass anchoring another solid first-rate melody. Hard not to like this, inherently charming, original, attractive, passionate and honest, an insistent Sarhan Kubeisi guitar fest adds to the glee. "Moon" has an almost blues lounge/marimba feel, what with the totally torch song like vocal delivery (Shirley Bassey doing Yello), with a little Caribbean vacation guitar lick in the background, utterly irresistible and completely intoxicating. "Beautiful" is even more brittle, remotely distant from proggy shores armed with a delicate vocal that has a crystalline fragility, a simple drum beat and even simpler guitar fills, nothing extravagant. "Open Your Eyes" returns to spookier realms, hypnotic swirls amid a plaintive vocal and a feel that is almost close to the label Projekt (Lycia, Love Spirals Downwards?) and "Maybe" continues in a decidedly alternative ?prog vein. The 7 minute + "Flow" is the highlight track here, an extended dreamy excursion that has an intricate clash of deeply felt sadness and an almost flippant apathy ("Where are we going? Who do we follow"), a long bluesy guitar solo fleshes out the proceedings.

Hey, this is not really prog, more like alternative-dreamy pop with celebrated progressive musicians, so buyers/hunters beware! Strawberry Fields remains firmly entrenched in the space between two musical chairs. Not prog, not pop. That being stated, this is certainly worthy of any prog collection, slightly off the beaten path. 4 fruitcakes.

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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