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Believe - World Is Round CD (album) cover





3.46 | 92 ratings

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4 stars Mirek Gil has more or less established a signature sound through his MR GIL and BELIEVE repertoire. While "This Bread is Mine" was a disappointment, his resurrection of Mr Gil in the form of last year's "Skellig" carried the torch for melodic, even hook laden rock built around Mirek's expressive guitars. Of course, with BELIEVE, we also get Satomi's vivacious violin, and the artistic success of every disk by this band seems somewhat dependent on how wisely her skills are deployed.

While this time around the results are better, and more in line with what we got on the masterful "Yesterday is a Friend", I do wish that BELIEVE would get the metal and heavy bluesy rock out of their system once and for all - "Cut me Paste me" and "No Time Inside" are not even good examples of these styles respectively, and plenty of other bands do it better. In the latter especially, the violin is so pummeled by the dreary incessant beat that it cannot hope to tame the base animal within "Guru" is perhaps the worst of the lot for all the aforementioned reasons, and its faux South Asian aspirations. If the group wants to go dark and sinister, they have shown they can meet the challenge without fomenting histrionics or headaches - just look to "Lay Down Forever", in which vocalist Karol finally comes into his own in the style reminiscent of the group's spottily brilliant debut.

Several tunes here are up with the best of the group's output to date. But be forewarned this is not traditional neo prog, even by the standards set within the branches of this Polish family tree. The instrumental breaks are far more concise and the songs have generally defined verses and choruses, yet this is miles from the charts in intent and delivery. "So Well" employs a sensuous percussive backing, dancing fiddles, acoustic guitar, and tasteful backing vocals around a sumptuous tune. "Bored" is more upbeat but still possessing a folksy charm partly due to Satomi. But Gil steals the show towards the end with a trademark shivery solo - he is truly one of the few modern guitarists whose musical demeanor evokes the violin, which perhaps explains his infatuation with all things Satomi. "New Hands" is another sparkling ballad in which Konrad Wantrych's keys glisten. You know where it's going but it's the journey. If you want to introduce prog to a skeptic popster, try this at home. The title cuts, including a secret track at the end, are almost as good for the same reasons. For more die-hard progressive fans, go for "Poor King of Sun/Return", 10 minutes that evoke an exotic flavor not heard since the band's debut, righting every wrong committed by "Guru" , and more. What is so appealing about "Believe" is how familiar, almost nostalgic, they sound, yet how distinctive and hard to categorize they are. These ingredients are the stuff of fan loyalty.

"World is Round" isn't consistent like the best this group has done, but, with program and skip functions at the ready, you can render it down to 8 good and mostly better songs, so I am going to do a world of good and "round" up.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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