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Soma White - Soma White CD (album) cover


Soma White


Crossover Prog

4.13 | 26 ratings

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5 stars Polish newcomers Soma White are coming out to get you, the discerning progfan and embalm you in their magic. There are so many exhilarating things to this CD, of which I had heard enough samples to jump and purchase, knowing I was in for a ride. I have been on a tremendous stretch lately, infusing my collection with constant jewelry, consistently vivid performances that span the progressive spectrum.

Soma White is a unique concoction, armed with a very modern sounding, almost messy dissonant platform, 2 guitarists who parallel their leads almost in unison, a scouring bass player and an eccentric drum kit cat. The 2 oddballs are the ultra-modern keyboardist Pawel Wisocki who favors a Richard Barbieri/ Eno style, loaded with igneous ice and frozen fire and the unique howling voice of Hania Zmuda, a female lung that can wink at Lisa Gerrard- like chanting one moment and Patti Smith the next.

I must directly phase into discussing the CD package as its one I have never seen before and just floored me when I held it in my awed fingers. A solid and weighty box , with an almost metallic feel that exudes a sense of doom, an internal folder that half holds the CD in place, with inner panels of red velvet. Biiiiiiizzaaare! And very cool! The cover photo is stark, a hint of sunlight on a fading planetary horizon. Wow! A definite prize for the loving collector.

As for the music inside, well get ready for a shock of massive proportions, as this has to be one of the finest modern prog albums out there. And not that easy to describe either, an amalgamation of various influences and flavors that scour the musical continuum. Starting off with an absolute scorcher, 'The Mind Parasite' has an effect-laden aggressive slant that is brooding, menacing and blatantly angry, a distorted world where fuzzed bass mixed with fuzzy guitars, spooky keys: gurgling synth pools and icy piano droplets fight amid the slashing guitars that only heighten Zmuda's suspicious voice. The mid- section asserts almost psychotic interludes that hint at Syd Barrett-like psychedelia, pinging and ponging helter-skelter , as if some absurd exhortation. Solid beginnings.

The nearly macabre 'Pure Nonsense' is fueled by a no-nonsense, highly binary pulse/beat, hacked by guitar machetes and brisk synthesized snippets. Very modernistic and dense, there is a strong electronic sense that remains firmly in the prog realm, as proven by the raging guitar onslaught and the ferocious upswing. Breathing but with great effort, the music just entices the deepest feeling of insanity. The choir work is again a pure delight, doing with voices what a mellotron just can't. Fantastic song!

'On the Shore' provides even more density and wall of sound effects, Robert Majewski's wonky bass shoving the eerie voice along , cordoned by a hedge of growling, really spiraling guitars and Odin-esque Nordic keyboards. Hania's voice enters berserkdom, the combined musical electricity becomes overloaded and the piece just explodes into sheer madness. Another keeper but I am now searching for my pills.

The 13 and a half minutes of 'Better Reality' is the epic mega-track here and as such incorporates all the ingredients that make this band interesting. Most evident trait is to establish the music as current and even futuristic in order to attract the next generation of proggers, for one cannot relive 'Close to the Edge' forever. Hence, this is a much more groove oriented piece, ruddered by Majewski's robust bass (a massive treat throughout the recording) and takes its sweet time to envelop and infect. Rivulets of mercurial piano slither across the guitar assault, deranged synths enter and leave at will, all coerced by the mousy voice, this tremendous track is lush with contrast and consequence. There is a spirited electric guitar solo that has rough edges and raspy tendencies but the bass plows along unhindered and unhinged, taking the listener for another spin around the cosmic realm. This, kiddies , is the sound of the future, soulful but crazed vocals, crunchy guitars and celestial synth storms all get to dance around the laptop.

'A Day to Overcome' goes in another direction, sounding a bit like a modern Gong, with Hania Zmuda doing her best Gilly Smyth imitation, space whisper and all, while Majewski is feeling like Howlett and drummer Szymczak doing a solid Moerlin. This is definitely space cadet music, planet Gdansk instead of Gong! Fantastic material!

Can they keep up the momentum, you ask? Yup, 'Travel Story' showcases a trippier mood, airy and adventurous, piano ruling once again in a near jazzy manner, wah-wah guitars helping a great deal to further the breeze. Imagine a proggier version of Hooverphonic , the famed Belgian electronica group. One can clearly now appreciate the diverse palette of styles these accomplished musicians are willing to tackle, including lush orchestrations. This song could almost qualify as a James Bond theme song. Very impressive, indeed. What is so cool is that it's not commercial at all, very demanding and researched musical scores that stretch the boundaries of convention and formula. The final part has a sweltering lead guitar solo; crisp, exalted, crazed and intense. A total winner!

'Re-Hope' is a chugger, a pumping modern guitar-fueled rock piece (think recent Phil Manzanera) with sweet vocals and a forceful demeanor, contrasting the pulse with the urgency. Great driving music this, BTW!

The 8 minute 'Grateful' proves the genius behind the grooves, as it slithers along in an opaque electronic vapor, taking its time to invade and ultimately pervade. Woozy guitars are interfaced with gloomy atmospherics and a whispered and now sedate voice, the pace constantly kept exciting and unpredictable, though all is well within a surreal electro sheen.

A fitting finale has a glittering piano that exudes beauty, grace and strength, in the finest Chopin tradition may I add. The sonic and vocal effects are plentiful and outer worldly, showing that even simplicity can be complex. I mean, wow. My Polish brethren never cease to amaze me.

Progshine, thank you for your inspiring words in pushing me to hunt this beauty down. I want to not give this the highest accolade of 5 stars but that would be impossible and unjust. The future of prog is in good hands. Porcupine Tree, Henry Fool, No-Man and fans of heavier modern prog will enjoy this Polish puppy big time. Top 5 in the 2013 contenders.

5 Dizzy Lizzies

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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