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CzesŁaw Niemen - Aerolit CD (album) cover


CzesŁaw Niemen

Eclectic Prog

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5 stars Some time, after really getting into the prog scene, Czeslaw Niemen released an album called Aerolit. The album is commonly thought of as one of his best works. It's more jazz/fusion-rock than what the earlier albums were. Aerolit has less soul and blues influences, and is more based on his synths rather than funky organs and horns. The playing on this album is great and very professional.

The progressive sound to the first song really surprised me first. The song listing indicated a 10 minute song, and having first heard Strange is This World(1972), I expected something similar. However, the song starts with a powerful moog intro and soon gets going like the best of Tony Banks's licks back in the 70s, while the band on the back plays it fusion. There's a lot of early days Andy Ward style in Piotr Dziemskis drumming and the bass playing of Jacek Gazda matches the style more than well. This song soon developes into a playful jam masterpiece of a so Niemen-like groovy background topped by a battle of synths and guitar. Really nothing you would expect, having heard early Niemen, but still really good.

Niemens' biggest weapon has always been his great voice, and that's how this album stands out again. I'm a big fan of the Polish language, and hearing someone scream it at the top of their voice for almost 30 seconds is just something undescribable. However, Pielgrzym is not as easy as it could be. It's a song, or more like a chant with synths and singing taking turns. No drums or guitar are used in this song until five minutes. After that, we are introduced a really mystical background to the chants that carry on.

Kamyk carries on the misty feeling. It's really mysterious, the bassline, that's actually the supporting beam of this structure and reminds me a bit of early Wigwam(Finland) style. This song gets started a bit later too, and molds into something of a jazz-rock again, with a hint of canterbury scene too. I'm noticing influences to all my favourite genres and splendid musicianship. The members all play flawlessly and difficult patterns. The song starts to build a psychedelic load that keeps you hooked until the end. A great well spent 7 minutes if I may say so. Excellent and hypnotical. And the end sounds a bit similar to the first song, as if returning back to a theme...

Fourth is what defines progressive rock. Mellotron accompanied by an acoustic steel guitar equals a beautiful and enchanting sound. This song is really beautiful, and though Niemens' voice is a bit harsh, he can use it well with ballad-types too. Oh, I have a feeling this album is going to take a special place next to my heart.

And now I fell off my chair. After such a nice and soft song, we get a fast paced and jumping song, Smutny Ktos, biedny Nikt. This one is obviously done with a lot of good humour. The song is groovy and playful, yet really powerful and attractive. The beat really makes you want to jump.

I'm amazed how this artist could develope such a perfect touch to progressive rock and jazz-rock after doing such great things with first soul and then folk-blues influences. Czeslaw Niemen is certainly one of the best musicians and singers I have ever known, and the band... Poland has great potential and great players who do their job more than well. This album just walked right over me, and I can't do anything else but show my respect. And listen to it again, a bit louder! everyone here who loves progressive music should listen to this album, I can say that wholeheartedly. Even if you didn't understand the Polish language. It's a shame this album isn't as big as some of the other classics, because it surely would deserve to be.

Report this review (#178168)
Posted Friday, July 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aerolit is probably the best progressive album by CZESLAW NIEMEN. It is a great, dynamic, eclectic, jazz-rock/fusion album with great synthesizers, fantastic guitars, interesting rhythmic section and of course fantastic Niemen's vocal. There are also some interesting stories associated with this album. On the front cover you can see the painting made by Nieme's wife Malgorzata. The hands tight in front of the wall are a symbol and are associated with the lyric of the first song on the album - Cztery sciany swiata (which means Four walls of the world). The lyric is also very symbolic. It is a poem written by polish poet and songwriter - Jonasz Kofta (1942-1988). I especially like the beginning of this song when Niemen is singing:

Przed sciana dzwieku stoja głusi

Modla sie do muzyki

In front of the wall of sounds deaf people are standing

And they are preying to the music

Other lyrics are the poems of the Polish romantic poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid (1821-1883): Pielgrzym (Pilgrim), Daj mi wstazke blekitna (Give me a blue ribbon, Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska (1891-1945): Smutny ktos i biedny nikt (Sad someone and poor nobody) and Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998) Kamyk (The little stone).

It is also interesting that new Niemen's band (that played on Aerolit) was established after a split (in a bad atmosphere) with Jozef Skrzek and Apostolos Anthimos (members of SBB that played on Niemen's albums - Marionetki, Strange Is This World and Ode to Venus). After the split Niemen discovered a young drummer Pior Dziemski (who died in age of 22 right after the release of Aerolit in 1975). His death had a great influence on Niemen's career. His next album - Katharsis on which Niemen is playing on all instruments was a typical electronic music and it was often criticized.

There is also another funny story associated with this album. In 2002 Niemen received a letter addressed to him and C.K. Norwid (romantic poet - 1821-1883) - his moog solo from Pilgrim was used on the album of CHEMICAL BROTHERS (Come with Us).

I recommend Aerolit to prog fans who like eclectic, mysterious and some times a little bit dark music. Also the people interested in jazz-rock fusion will be pleased with this album. It is worth to buy even if you don't understand the Polish language. It is a great prog-rock classic or at least it should be a classic.

Report this review (#263128)
Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars I had never heard of this guy before he was added to PA. I've only heard this album and the follow up Katharsis, which is a great electronic album. Niemen(not his real name) was born in the Soviet Union but later moved to Poland. During the 1960s he was popular there, making R&B and psych rock music. With this album he moved into fusion territory while retaining the symphonic prog of his last few albums. Before Aerolit the members of S.B.B. were his backing band.

His singing style is very soulful. Similar to 60s/70s R&B and "blue-eyed soul". He sings in Polish. I have worked with people from Poland and learned some words and sayings in Polish. Unfortunately, they were mostly curse words. I have no idea what Czeslaw is singing about, but I don't hear any Polish curse words. "Pielgrzym" is apparently based on a famous Polish poem by a famous Polish poet. Or something of that nature anyway. Oh, by the way, Niemen also plays keyboards.

"Cztery Sciany Swiata" starts with rolling drums, bass and jazzy synth playing. Gets more symphonic with Mellotron. Some drum rolls and the singing starts. Music stops then comes back again. More Mellotron. Then jazzy synth and drums. Later a synth solo. Gets more symphonic. Music stops again. Then drum rolls and more singing. Music keeps stopping and starting again. Good electric piano near the end.

"Pielgrzym" has a little bit of synth before some a cappella vocals. Then some spacey Middle-Eastern style synths. A cappella vocals again. Some percussion and bass halfway thru. Then Rhodes piano and some electric guitar. "Kamyk" begins with spacey synth. Then drum roll and some Mellotron. After a symphonic part with a good beat and electric piano. Singing starts. Later goes into a jazzy part, then a nice groove with echoed/delayed Mellotron. Goes back to the symphonic part. Spacey synth noises at the end.

"Daj Mi Wstazke Blekitna" is a R&B style ballad similar to some of his earlier stuff(I'm assuming). You can listen to the last song "Smutny Ktos, Biedny Nikt" here on PA. It starts with a great jazzy groove. Then singing. Later nice synths and electric piano. After 3 minutes some cool sounding electric piano and cowbell. Then a good groove. Later a synth melody doubled on guitar.

Yet another interesting artist I discovered because of this site. A great album, just as good as what was coming out of western Europe or the US at the time. A really good singer/keyboardist/composer. His singing style is very over the top and may not appeal to everyone. But the music is a nice mix of symphonic prog, fusion and R&B. 4 stars.

Report this review (#340017)
Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. I knew nothing of this man until he was added here but the bio says he moved from Russia to Poland when he was around 19 years old. He became a singer in Poland in the early sixties before becoming a pioneer in that country with his Psychedelic music in the latter half of the sixties. "Aerolit" is an incredible album filled with Czeslaw's emotive vocals and his amazing synth and mellotron work. Add to that a very talented drummer, upfront bass and electric piano and you have a classic. He sings in Polish and it's pretty cool that members of SBB were in his band prior to this album. Great album cover too apparently painted by his wife.

"Cztery Sciany Swiata" is the 10 1/2 minute opener and the longest track on here. Drums are joined by bass before the synths and a melody kick in. I'm not big on the melody and it will return a few more times during this song. The song pretty much stops after 1 1/2 minutes as drums then passionate vocals take over. Some nice bass too and it's fairly dark and brooding here. Mellotron 3 minutes in then it kicks in to an uptempo synth/ drum led section. Bass to the fore after 3 1/2 minutes as that melody returns from earlier. Man this changes often. Electric piano after 4 minutes with drums, synths and bass although the synths dominate the sound. I like this a lot. Guitar joins in replacing the synths but they will continue to trade off. There's that earlier melody again before it changes as the vocals and that dark sound return after 7 1/2 minutes. Mellotron too and man can this guy sing!

"Pielgrzym" opens with mournful synths as almost spoken vocals join in but they are rich and full of character. Percussion and bass join in around 5 minutes then the vocals stop as it continues to trip along. Vocals are back with about a minute left. Great track. "Kamyk" starts with electronics which sounds pretty cool as the drums shuffle. Mellotron follows then the synths start to growl as the vocals join in before 1 1/2 minutes. He's singing in a laid back manner here. The tempo picks up before 3 minutes as it turns jazzy. Then high pitched, bouncy synths start to dominate before giving way to some great sounding electric piano. It turns darker with deeper sounds before 5 minutes and the vocals return. Those bouncy synths are back after 6 minutes.

"Daj Mi Wstazkl Btekitna" features picked guitar, cymbals and sweeping mellotron to start as reserved vocals and a beat take over. Picked guitar and bass also help out as well. Mellow. The mellotron is back! Electric piano arrives when the vocals stop after 2 minutes. The vocals return around 3 minutes. "Smutny Ktos-I Biedny Nikt" hits the ground running and vocals join in quickly. When the vocals stop we get an impressive instrumental section, especially the electric piano and drums. Vocals are back but again when they stop the instrumental work just kills. It settles with electric piano and a beat before 5 minutes then the synths return late.

In my opinion this stands up very well with the best from 1975 and that's saying something.

Report this review (#1586028)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2016 | Review Permalink

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