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SBB - Iron Curtain CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.55 | 70 ratings

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4 stars It should have been a concept album in full!

The first few songs evoke memories, emotions that relate frighteningly well to the album title. Later however, that content drops away, leaving the listener with tunes - some of which are very good - but emotionally don't convey the subject anymore.

I don't speak Polish, but Skrzek's voice is just superb here and needs no translation. Fact is that if one hasn't experienced the bleakness, the despair and hopelessness, the quiet resignation people were subjected to living behind the Iron Curtain, one may have an idea, but not an understanding .The depth of suppression, humiliation and collective depression administered by the invaders and their local servants.

No, it wasn't quite as bad as in fanatic North Korea today, but a knee in your jaw, a rifle butt in your solar plexus, or in your back - for no good reason - was never far away. I was born into that and raised under such circumstances until I bolted, risking life and limb. In parts, this album tears up old wounds, memories that I've left behind a long time ago. Back then, quality music was hard to come by. SBB were a shining beacon in Eastern Europe in delivering a sense of relief.

A sound of a cattle wagon starts the album. A wagon that may have taken my grandfather - whom I never had the chance to know - to the Siberian Gulags, never to return. The tune, the voice conveys a feeling like coming up for air after near suffocation. Almost in disbelief that such move was ever possible. Musically, I feel that it would have suited a closing track, a nice outro instead.

On the second track, marching boots raise the hair on my back - yet again - giving way to bombastic church organs and heartfelt whining guitars, almost a requiem for the innocent victims. It touches me deeply almost beyond words. ..

The next piece comes across as a sense of relief. Can we really sleep now without a threat of further disturbance? Is this for real? Can we rely on it? Simple and nice.

Track four represents a weird, almost bizarre and yet very enjoyable groove, not far from electric Miles (Davis). At this point "Iron Curtain becomes an album without the heavy emotional content maintained. Still great music.

Then, we explore Pat Metheny territory with a pleasing grunt, the man himself has rarely afforded us. Most of the remaining tracks are more lively. As it often happens, the two bonus tracks are probably the best on this album, too.

I am sorry to say that freedom appears to have made the band somewhat complacent when their current works are compared with under the oppression. Nevertheless, it's still a great band, one that still delivers some pleasing tunes, but the flame and determination have faded somewhat. Perhaps it's time for a more contemplative healing process?

BORA | 4/5 |


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