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Lebowski - Galactica CD (album) cover



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4 stars Lebowski is a 4 person Crossover Prog from Poland. In 2010, they released their frist album which was considered a soundtrack for a non-existent movie. The music was inspired by actual movies, mostly Polish films, and was well received by critics. Now, almost 10 years later, the band has finally released a 2nd album "Galactica". The group's line up remains the same, with a guitarist, keyboardist, bassist, and drummer. The album was released at the end of January 2019.

"Solitude of Savant" starts out with an orchestral beginning, and the cinematic feel of the track feels like it comes right at the heels of their first album. After a bit of contemporary orchestra, the band takes over in an impressive way with guitars and piano sharing the spotlight. The guitars are somewhat heavy while the piano keeps things down to earth. The melody is very lovely, even when the bass takes it over later in the track, while a string effect plays pizzicato. I say effect, but it sounds quite realistic, but there are no credits for an orchestra or string section. After this section, the guitar takes on a melodic solo.

"Midnight Syndrome" begins with a cool, keyboard solo with drums providing a nice straightforward rhythm. The guitar then copies the melody and improvises off of it. Keys and guitar join together after this. There are female wordless vocals that come in later and then a jazz tinged guitar solo. "Goodbye My Joy" is a soft-jazz track that is led with a flugelhorn, a mandolin and soft guitar. Later there is an electric guitar solo, but the overall sound of the track is still quite mellow and accessible.

"White Elephant" is an almost complete opposite of the previous track, starting with a churning hard rock riff, but this is replaced by a spacey synth playing the melody. Later, the bass takes charge as things intensify a bit, but the synth is still allowed to come in and take over again. The track continues as a straightforward rock instrumental. "The Doosan Way" is a re-imagining of a track released on an earlier single from 2013. It is a more mellow track with a jazz flair led by piano. This section is sandwiched between a guitar playing the main melody with string effects. There are sections that have a mid- Eastern feel and another with spacey synths. The overall foundation is based on a jazz sense of play, however, as the track continues for 10 minutes and features a lot of different lead sounds through its run-time.

The title track "Galactica" follows. It begins with a mellow sound led by electric piano. It builds in intensity as guitars take over the melody later with synths underlying everything creating a symphonic feel. "Slightly Inhuman" starts off with melodic piano and guitars creating a nice fusion sound. Everything builds creating a more rhapsodic sound. The pattern repeats. I really like this track for its emotional builds.

"Mirage Avenue" utilizes a clarinet and an acoustic guitar with the piano. Later, wordless vocals come in. This is a soft and lovely track with a pastoral sense that has a gypsy flair to it. "The Last King" starts off with a heavy riff and drums to match, again contrasting with the previous track. Synths carry the melody and add some great effects. This is a great closer that will keep you coming back to the album and finishing off the album on a high-note.

The album is mostly just straightforward rhythms with little progressive-ness to it, but the music is so well done, professional in both musicianship and production. The music is accessible, but because it is done so well, it gets high marks for that. There is a good amount of variety here with heavy rock and impressive jazz sections. If you are looking for a good mostly instrumental album that fuses rock and jazz, this is your album. If it were more progressive, it definitely could have got 5 stars, but it is mostly straightforward, but it is still interesting and enjoyable, and the production is stellar, so it gets 4 stars.

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Posted Friday, February 1, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Lebowski has already grabbed attention within Poland and abroad with their inspired ideas, powerful concepts, and charming musical craftsmanship they displayed on their 2010 album "Cinematic". Normally, it might be difficult for artists to live up to the acclaim of a proper masterpiece of that sort; however, for me "Galactica" (2019) delivered in the fullest. Retaining the band's signature atmospheric-filmic-instrumental style, "Galactica" is its own creation, noticeably different (but not worse!) than its predecessor.

There are few pieces that could be easily listened to as stand-alones on "Galactica", perhaps only "Goodbye My Joy" and "Slightly Inhuman". The entire album is deeply conceptual, as suggested by the title and cover this time playing on the concept of space, which is most apparent in the sound of "Solitude of Savant", "Midnight Syndrome", and the titular "Galactica". The pieces, albeit distinctive at a closer look, blend into one another in post-listening memories, creating a coherent experience, one that can only be described as imaginative. There is certain dense minimalism to the way Lebowski structure their music on "Galactica": elaborating simple, repetitive melodies in lengthy sessions with an improvisational streak on various instruments from keys, through guitars, to more unexpected flugelhorn (in "Goodbye My Joy": a collaboration with the brilliant jazz soloist Markus Stockhausen). Most of the time, one instrument leads with a fresh melodic entry, while the others join in the arrangement-dialogue, supported by a steady rhythm (similar throughout the album). In addition, for this album the band decided only on wordless female vocals (instead of spoken Polish word like on "Cinematic"), perhaps pointing towards Lebowski's aim for internationalization. The simplicity and subtleness of "Galactica" may be off-putting to some; however, it assures that the sound runs smoothly, binding it together into a coherent, dreamy session one can easily space (pun not intended) out to. Despite not being particularly stimulating in terms of blatant unexpectedness and experimentation, the album is never boring, always subtly changing, and at least a few of the leading melodies remain stuck in the head for a good while. In this case, less is more. This is the music to close your eyes to and allow it to flow- a sort of spacey bend on film music, a bit reminiscent of classical minimalism.

"Galactica" seems to be getting significantly less attention in comparison with "Cinematic", which is a pity. The 4 stars here are well-deserved; perhaps in time this album too will become recognized for its sound and concept. Indeed though- this is an album that requires undisturbed time to be appreciated.

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Posted Monday, September 9, 2019 | Review Permalink

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