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Fren - Where Do You Want Ghosts to Reside CD (album) cover

WHERE DO YOU WANT GHOSTS TO RESIDE

Fren

Eclectic Prog


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Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars Well, this is the debut of a very promising band coming from Kraków, Poland. 'Where Do You Want Ghosts To Reside' will fullfil the expectations of many prog connoisseurs, I'm sure. Maybe in the vein of fellow countrymen Riverside somehow, when they dared to appear on the scene. I predominantly mean concerning the high level of composition, the implementation and, yeah, the spirit too of course. Rather than the music style, which is quite different, and definitely unique, while more eclectic in general. As an example par excellence just let me highlight the extended Pleonasm. This elaborated piece is meandering like an atmospheric suite. Where they are including jazzy parts and classical hints with ease here. It flows relaxed and matured, fine work!

The instrumental songs were developed by all band members, and this fruitful collaboration results in rather keyboard driven songs, this due to Oskar Cenkier's piano, organ, synths ... and really wonderful mellotron input on top. Beside that sensation the other band members obviously are delivering a great job too, otherwise this would not appeal that much. I also want to emphasize the mellow Goraca Linia which again showcases some lovely piano lines. The closing Time To Take Stones Away then comes multi-varied, with a complex nature and enchanting guitar solo. But yet all the songs are worth it, you should know. Prog fans, take the chance, don't miss that!

Report this review (#2353526)
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2020 | Review Permalink
TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Fren is an instrumental eclectic band from Poland that formed in 2017 and released its debut album in March of 2020. The band is currently made up of Oskar Cenkier (keyboards), Michal Chalota (guitar), Andrew Shamanov (bass), and Oleksii Fedoriv (drums). The music is based around a nice, free-floating space-style progressive rock sound that definitely recalls the earlier days of Pink Floyd, Caravan and King Crimson, along with a more updated style with occasional heavy guitars and cinematic crescendos.

Their debut album (called "Where Do You Want Ghosts to Reside?") is made up of 6 tracks and spans a 44 minute run- time. "Twin Peaks" starts it all off with a lovely and explorative track that will capture you right away as it sweeps you up in its lush journey with a lot of stylized and atmospheric synths, but ends with the introduction of heavier guitars towards the end. "Surge" is more exploratory, but begins much heavier with guitars at the fore all supported by waves of mellotron and synth. This 9+ minute piece carries you to several different realms as it continues on however as the music resides somewhere between space rock, heavy prog, and bits of fusion and folk infused that will easily make you think of early King Crimson styles mixed with solid guitar work. The music is not perfect, but that actually gives it the genuine feel as it moves from soft and soothing to jaunty riffs to hard guitar, all transitioning smoothly along held together by musicians that you can tell have spent a lot of time working together to achieve the sound. The heavier organ that comes along later hints at Uriah Heep style rock as the track winds itself up toward its conclusion.

"Gorąca Linia" is a lovely and shorter 3 minute piece that ventures more into a jazz/rock fusion style track where the band plays around with the theme by changing note durations and then smooths things out for short improvisational sections. "Pleonasm" is pretty much the epic, centerpiece at 12 minutes. Beginning with a simple piano line, the music slowly builds and then resolves in a tasty jazz-style improve still led by the piano, but driven by fast drumming. The tempo is in flux however, changing to slower, more peaceful moods at times and becoming more upbeat at others, but always retaining the nice jazz-ish influence. As fatter piano chords take over, the guitars start to feel their way into the whole thing, and then a sweet guitar takes over the improvising job while the piano supports. Without becoming too descriptive, suffice it to say that the music travels through meter, style and tempo changes, yet sounds grounded and cohesive all the way through this excellent track.

The bass leads off "Heavy Matter" with an engaging riff that takes the music into an area that is a bit heavier and more progressive. The flute effects from the mellotron bring in the prog-folk effect as things continue, the music tightens up and you get a feeling that the band is playing with Canterbury territory at times, but always remaining on a heavier side of prog. The last few minutes are spent in a slower, denser beat that develops into a Floydian style guitar solo, but with a thick bassline which suddenly elevates the music to an emotional and rousing finish. "Time to Take the Stones Away" finishes it all off in a solid, moderately slow beat where the guitar and piano work to build up an elevating finish, a perfect, positive ending to a great album.

This album proves that this is a band worth watching. The sound is very organic and classic sounding, but the band uses plenty of unique playing to let the listener know that while they love their influences, they can bring it all together into a sound of their own. By the time you reach the end, you feel a level of encouragement and strength, and you have a renewed sense that progressive rock is in great hands with bands like this. Even though this album is all instrumental, there is still a huge amount of emotion and dynamic to make you not even miss the vocals. The music is never stagnant, but is always exciting and dynamic. This is definitely an excellent album by a very talented quartet of musicians, and every one of them shines through on this album.

Report this review (#2374770)
Posted Sunday, April 26, 2020 | Review Permalink
Progfan97402
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Fren is an amazing Polish and Ukrainian prog band that's done their homework and create some of the best prog of today. They're an all instrumental band whose music brings to mind Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Camel and other classic bands. Great use of piano, organ and Mellotron plus guitar, bass and drums. I really enjoy that every piece has tons of wonderful ideas going on and the album never bored me. I love the different moods on offer where the band may be calm and next they go to into harder Crimson territory. I love that the album is kept at a reasonable length, would make a great vinyl release (aside from download at Bandcamp, it's only available as a band released CD as a solid format). Great stuff and I really think these guys should be a hit with progheads everywhere.
Report this review (#2376088)
Posted Saturday, May 2, 2020 | Review Permalink
DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars An amazing debut shot from Krakow, Poland. FREN are a fresh quartet born in 2017, and finally this year they've launched the debut full-length creation titled "Where Do You Want Ghosts To Reside" that is what a meaningful phrase. They say they've been influenced by lots of progressive rock precursors, and combined various essence through inspiration. The weird sleeve pic gives you clear expectation, and the 'content' would be more enthusiastic than you expected, I guess. Apparent is not only being inspired by 70s progressive rock but also digesting and reconstructing for their originality.

You are going to be knocked out via the prologue "Twin Peaks" featuring brilliant mellotron and synthesizer architectures, as if they would take you to their dreamy world. The following "Surge" turns your mind over again, with guitar-oriented dramatic heaviness. This atmosphere reminds you like Dream Theater meet King Crimson (especially Fripp - Bruford - Wetton era). Such a theatrical sound basis with repetitive strategies accelerate your interest in a deep manner, and there are colourful symphonic variations here and there simultaneously. "Gorąca Linia" is a sort of catchy, delightful short story full of lyrical keyboard playing. (Honest to say, quite acceptable, my favourite).

"Pleonasm" has another appearance. Jazzy ensembles of a piano and drums, plus guitar in the latter phase, should impress you along with difference from the first three 'heavy' steps. Kaleidoscopic soundscape perfectly and smoothly performed can be enjoyed by plenty of art rock fans, without suspicion. Interesting is the fifth "Heavy Matter", quite eclectic stuff, mixed with jazz, heavy, symph, a tad metal (Neo-symph-ish texture can be felt, at least for me). The epilogue "Time To Take Stones Away" can be called as their complete compilation of musical styles. Magnificent sight for art rock is heard all over the masterpiece. Kinda decent epilogue of a fascinating debut opus.

Their instrumental technique is superb too, for a debut album. Therefore lots of progressive rock fans could be immersed in this departure, let me say.

Report this review (#2377028)
Posted Monday, May 4, 2020 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I agree with all four collab reviews this far: this is a very solid four-star debut from Krakow, Poland. The quartet has existed since 2017 and I think they have very well found their style already. Instead of being yet another Polish neo prog act (don't get me wrong, for me Poland is among the finest neo prog countries!) or playing depressed heavy prog in the vein of Riverside, FREN make instrumental prog with lots of retro-ish elements. One may name several classic 70's bands as references in the attempt to describe the music, but the truth is that Fren have absorbed their numerous influences in a way that one cannot blame them for sounding closely like any band.

I'm fond of the organic sound which has the sincerity and warmth of the classic prog era. Probably the band has deliberately achieved that feeling by using analog equipment. The production is however pretty faultless, not stuffy of unbalanced at all. Each instrument is clearly heard. A few words on the six tracks: 'Twin Peaks' named after the legendary mystery series of the 90's hasn't much to do with Angelo Badalamenti's music, but the slow-paced piece succeeds to weave a strong and mysterious atmosphere slightly reminding of the melancholia in Scandinavian prog (Änglagård etc), largely helped by the use of Mellotron. 'Surge' has a Crimsonesque dark tone. The rather heavy guitar and flute-like Mellotron sounds dominate much of the 10- minutes; at 2:30 starts a gorgeous soft movement in which the beautiful bass line suddenly grabs the attention and is followed by a laid-back but passionate electric guitar solo comparable of Camel. I only wich the delicacy would have lasted longer instead of returning to the riff-oriented heaviness. Near the end the organ leads to Uriah Heepish territory.

On the shortest, 3-minute third track the acoustic piano makes its first notable appearance. Even though there's again some heaviness on guitars, the piano makes me think of Renaissance's Ashes Are Burning era. Piano is central on the 12-minute highlight 'Pleonasm'. Wow, here the beautiful melodies and the classical music flavour bring a lovely symphonic prog feel to the music, and the occasional jazziness is the cherry on the top. I'm sure that if you admire John Tout's pianism in Renaissance's classic albums, Oskar Cenkier's elegant touch delights you here. 'Heavy Matter' is an eclectic combination of the pianistic elegance, Crimson-like edge and some heavy and jazz nuances, and it reaches its emotional peak in a superb, David Gilmour-ish electric guitar solo. And the big chords are what I especially enjoy in the last track, as well as the moment focusing on piano.

This interestingly named album is certainly much more than just a promising debut. Here and there the music is not as melodic and emotional as I would prefer it to be (hence "only" four stars), but it does contain several passionate highlights. Thank you, Fren, I really want to be around when you release your second album!

Report this review (#2402933)
Posted Sunday, May 17, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars EVERY NOW AND THEN '..

Fren is a Polish four piece formation rooted in 2017. It took Oskar Cenkier (pianos, organs, synthesizers, mellotron), Michał Chalota (guitars), Andrew Shamanov (bass guitars, synthesizers) and Oleksii Fedoriv (drums) two years to deliver their debut album Where Do You Wants Ghosts To Reside. During my first listening session Fren succeeded to keep my attention for the entire running time (45 minutes) and to generate a lot of excitement in the six instrumental compositions (between 2 and 13 minutes). I am very pleasantly surprised by the maturity of Fren, this is only their debut, so what's next?!

1. Twin Peaks (4:41) : The album starts with a dreamy sound by different sections from the distinctive Mellotron, simply beautiful! Halfway a fragile electric guitar joins, reminding me of the melancholy Swedish prog from King Crimson inspired bands like Anekdoten, Landberk and 'nglag'rd. The final part features a more bombastic atmosphere with powerful electric guitar and lush Hammond organ. The conclusion contains subtle Mellotron splashes, fading away, a very promising start from Fren.

2. Surge (9:43) : Now propulsive guitar work and soaring Mellotron, in a hypnotizing climate, I love the captivating blend of raw guitar and tender Mellotron, this creates a lot of tension. Then a mellow sound with subtle sensitive electric guitar and soaring Mellotron violins, pretty atmospheric. The music turns first into a slow beat and compelling climate with raw guitar, and then into more dynamic and lush, featuring a Mellotron flute and propulsive guitar riffs. Then changing into a slow down with again subtle electric guitar, the music strongly evokes early Anglagard to me. A strong point is the beautiful interplay between raw guitar and tender Mellotron sound. The final part delivers a mid-tempo, gradually it becomes more lush with bombastic keyboards and powerful guitar, culminating in a heavy final part with blistering guitar and dynamic drums.

3. Goraca Linia (2:59) : A short but elaborate piece with a catchy beat, delicate and sparkling jazzy piano and tight drums (another original musical idea), then propulsive guitar riffs. In the end early Hackett-like guitar in dynamic interplay with piano.

4. Pleonasm (12:02): This is Fren's magnum opus, opening with a dreamy, wonderful Grand piano intro. Then an accellaration, with sparkling piano and dynamic drums, turning into a slow rhythm featuring jazzy piano and drums, reminding me of early Emerson, Lake & Palmer. But next Fren is delivering lots of own musical ideas with surprising twist and turns, the focus is on awesome work on the Grand piano and very tasteful electric guitar, between dreamy and bombastic. The experimental parts evoke the quirkiness of early King Crimson. My conclusion is that Fren knows its classics but succeeds to add an own flavour.

5. Heavy Matter (6:23) : Here's another strong example how Fren blends 'the classics' and own musical ideas: lots of shifting moods, interesting musical ideas (from atmospheric like 'nglag'rd to experimental like early King Crimson) and an excellent colouring by the keyboards (from sparkling piano to soaring Mellotron). In the second part the band works from dreamy to a compelling and sumptuous 'grand finale' featuring a moving guitar solo with howling runs (in the tradition of David Gilmour and Andy Latimer), lush Hammond joins, wow!

6. Time To Take Stones Away (8:41) : The final composition contains a slow rhythm, fiery and howling guitar, with a catchy beat. Then dreamy with sparkling Grand piano, gradually turning into a mid-tempo and bombastic with sparkling piano and a tight bass. Halfway a dreamy atmosphere, the sound is a bit experimental but then changing into a bombastic eruption featuring dynamic piano, delicate guitar and s dynamic rhythm-section (powerful drums).

Fren knows its classics but doesn't derivative, because the band delivers lots of own daring and adventurous musical ideas, how impressive, and what a mature sounding debut CD, thumbs up!

This review was previously published on the Background Magazine website, the oldest Dutch progrock source.

Report this review (#2410833)
Posted Saturday, June 6, 2020 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars FREN is a fairly new progressive rock band coming from the beautiful city of Krakow, Poland and features the lineup of Oskar Cenkier (keyboards), Michał Chalota (guitar), Andrii Shamanov (bass guitar, synthesizer) and Oleksii Fedoriv (drums). Founded in 2017 this is one of the many so-called retro prog bands that finds the most inspiration from classic 70s bigwigs like King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Yes with a sprinkling of Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and even Dream Theater.

The band's debut album WHERE DO YOU WANT THE GHOSTS TO RESIDE follows 2019's EP "Heavy Matter" and takes on an album's worth of solid retro prog which in six track's worth adds up to almost 45 minutes of playing time. This is a purely instrumental affair with no vocals to be heard and although perhaps some lyrics sprinkled in here and there may have been a good thing, i'm so happy when excellent instrumentally oriented prog bands forsake the vocal thing altogether if they can't find a singer talented enough to pull off the vocal gymnastics required to match the prowess of the musical flow.

FREN is a very melodic band and spends a lot of time nurturing catchy hooks all teased out into bass driven grooves but is quite creative in adding complex side trips from a simple straight forward compositional approach. While "Twin Peaks" opens with an ethereal swirl of atmospheric darkness, the second track "Surge" clearly states that FREN is a rock band with heavy guitar bombast and a beefy bass led rhythm section that sustains an energetic delivery for almost ten minutes. The album continues with excellent keyboard runs, an abundance of time signature richness and excellent instrumental interplay between the four band members with none really stealing the show. This is a top notch band affair graced with a nice modern production that feels as warm and organic as some of the 70s classics.

Despite all the references to classic artists of yore, FREN succeeds in crafting a unique prog vision that offers a unique recipe of retro sounds all thrown into the cauldron together and melded together in a way that sounds like the perfect mix of old and new, rock and jazz, mellow and bombastic. "Pleonasm" for example relies on beautiful classical piano passages to alternate with jazzy guitar sections with crafty variations that direct the track to sneak past the twelve minute mark. If i had to sum up this album in just one word then it would truly be "playful" as the band excel at just making the musical procession a thoroughly enjoyable experience without relying on too many experimental touches and just keeping to a strong groove and instantly cuddly melody making experience much like the classic prog of the past.

Overall WHERE DO YOU WANT THE GHOSTS TO RESIDE may not go down as a classic of retro prog but it is an excellent slice of instrumental prog that will keep you entertained throughout its playing with an interesting diverse set of tracks that stay true to a basic formula but offer enough variation to make this a warm and fuzzy prog experience. This is only the debut so i'm quite impressed. Lots of excellent keyboard and piano action crafting beautiful melodies, uplifting atmospheres, groovy bass and guitar parts that alternate between bombastic rock heft and funk-tinged jazzy workouts. In many ways this sounds so familiar but in others exists in a world of its own. I find this one is pretty good on multiple listens unlike many newer retro prog bands out there. All i can say is - nice!

Report this review (#2410835)
Posted Saturday, June 6, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

Fren is a band that seems to have come from out of nowhere with their debut album, Where Do You Want Ghosts To Reside. I've seen all manner of people mentioning the album on social media in glowing terms, so when I saw it appear for review for The Progressive Aspect, I put my hand up for it fairly swiftly. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and I admit I wasn't entirely convinced the album would, or even could, live up to the hype. But this Polish and Ukrainian group clearly know their stuff. They've concocted an absolutely astounding melange of sounds from the past and present, that manages to paradoxically sound like everything else and nothing else all at once. I can't help but name bands I hear, and yet what I heard doesn't actually sound like those bands at all. The band have somehow managed to not only sound like anyone else, but also not even really reside in any particular genre. Is post-jazz a thing? I've no idea, but that seems as good (or useless) a label as any to affix to Fren.

So, what do Fren sound like? Or, should that be, What Do Fren Sound Like. (Since the band seem to have named their album as statement, rather than the question it appears to be - an analogy for the way the music within is indisputably their own, rather than the influences it appears to draw on?) Well, the opening track, Twin Peaks actually feels like an extended introductory passage, rather than a number in its own right, but it builds beautifully, and flies by. It's almost five minutes in length, but feels more like two, and I could easily wish it to go on for a further five minutes. It's mournful and melancholic, yet somehow warm and comfortable, that it wraps me up so cosily, I'm reluctant to have it depart. Every time I hear it, I think Twin Peaks is probably my favourite track on the album. But Twin Peaks is quite deceiving, having lulled me into what I assumed was going to be an enjoyable, if sombre, spacey trip somewhat reminiscent of pink and tangerine dreams called Floyd.

Instead, all preconceptions are thrown out the window within the opening notes of what is probably my favourite track on the album, Surge. Beginning with the sound of Jethro Tull being fed through a seed drill into furrows of King Crimson, throughout the piece I'm reminded of all manner of other bands, including Rush, Genesis and Black Sabbath. Fren appear to have been influenced by, and borrowed from, all manner of classic bands, and morphed them into something quite original, and not at all derivitive. Calling this track Surge may be an understatement. It's a maelstrom of surges, as the various sounds cascade over, around and through each other in violent turmoil. And it's beautiful.

Gorąca Linia is the shortest track on the album, but has an enormous amount going on within its short timeframe, including an almost Iron Maiden galloping guitar, a somewhat Mission:Impossible bassline, and some absolutely gorgeous keyboard playing that reminds me a little of Kevin Moore era Dream Theater. Again, like Surge, nothing really sounds like any of those bands, so much as hints shine through at odd moments that I find reminiscent of them. It's over too quickly, and I'm left wondering why the band chose not to extend this piece a little more.

The following Pleonasm takes us into jazz territory, with some gorgeous piano. Part of me doesn't want to keep making these comparisons, but another part can't help doing so. There are times I'm reminded a little of Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Steven Wilson and Genesis. It's all bookended by that piano, and the final notes are sublime. However, if Pleonasm is the beauty, then Heavy Matter May just be the beast. The track plays around an almost mechanical descending tune, and jams all over and around it, before a particularly Floydian guitar comes in to rescue it from the depths, and have it soaring instead. The keys, too, could be Pink.

The bluesy opening to final number, Time To Take Stones Away, could also be compared to Floyd, as we are welcomed back to a machine like dirge. Two minutes in, and the tone changes completely as piano and bass almost seem to race each other with some urgency to find the next section. There's a sense of anxiousness, but not darkness. The music almost fades out completely, before coming back sounding more assured, and with no need to rush. Rather than crescendo, the band plays a steady and repetitive, simple and minimalist guitar line with subdued percussion, before the climax finally comes. The track ends as it began, but far more confidently. If the beginning passages seemed a mix of hope and apprehension, there is a sense of strength and self-assurance by the end.

Overall, this album provides a compact package of lush and rich atmospheric soundscapes that like the ducks in Itchycoo Park, come out to groove about, be nice, and have fun in the sun. It's a perfect summer album, and I will definitely be joining those throwing accolades around on social media. This is an album that deserves to be heard, and I'll be doing my best to help get it out there.

Report this review (#2410887)
Posted Sunday, June 7, 2020 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well if there is one thing learned by force majeure from this pandemic, it's the notion of patience and the importance of rationally accepting that all things cannot be perfect at all times, such as the postal world and it's offspring , that incomprehensible term for many : DELAY. I finally received my copy of Fren's debut album, looking forward to hearing what all the fuss was about, as a few reviewers were pleasantly surprised by the quality of this release. I must say that I am strongly biased, as Polish prog has always been a favorite of mine and also because there are no two ethnically distinct nations who have such a consistent love affair as Poland and Hungary for the past thousand years. This debut all-instrumental album has a unique approach in that it stamps its own distinctive style all over the compositions, with only hints of past glorified influences(Floyd, Crimson, Camel, etc). The attribute that leaped out at me was the rather under-produced style that gives an earthiness to the sound that is most welcome. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) factor is at play here and it makes the entire listening experience fresh, vibrant and realistic. Guitarist Michal Chalota, keyboardist Oskar Cenkier, bassist Andrew Shamanow and drummer Oleksii Fedoriv establish a classic progressive line-up and the tracks are all quirky and enthralling, each in their own way. Simple complexity or complex simplicity, it is entirely up to you to decide!

The gorgeous opener "Twin Peaks" is a gentle entrance that glides forward with lush persistence, laden with dreamy atmospherics a la Crimson King, flute mellotron phrasings and crystalline guitar flicks. It acts like a slowly numbing musical anesthetic as the power slowly builds and the rousing organ enters the fray.

The nearly 10 minute "Surge" is quite the stormy surprise, a compass vector into more experimental zones, hints of Anglagard (booming bass, buzz saw guitar, tons of 'tron and forceful drumming) and yet, very exciting, suddenly pastoral and then fren-etic (excuse the pun).Chalota really shines here, delivering a masterful solo, that sears, soars and scours the heavens (think "The Knife" on Trespass) . The fact that its not over-produced and nicely raw is most appealing to these ears and will remain a constant pleasure throughout. A tremendous slice of music.

"Goraca Linea" is a brief but pretty respite that suggests more of a jazz-rock approach, whilst still being muscular and hearty, rippling piano work from Cienker gives him the stage to shine and that he does very deftly. The piano maintains the captaincy on the epic 12 minute "Pleonasm", a captivating arrangement that seals the deal and steals the show, a phenomenal platform for these musicians to express their craft and their teamwork, as they seem already as a well-oiled machine with passion and technique working in their favour. The piano does a lot of the initial heavy lifting, with a little bass slippage and some clever drumming patterns. Then, out of the blue, a slick guitar passage that harkens back to a jazzier, breezin' style (Benson, Carlton, Metheny and co..) that serves only to add some sunshine into the proceedings. The piano returns to shift the focus once again, the fingers dancing on the ivories with grace and elegance, especially towards the 8-minute mark. Truly fascinating mastery, these are exceptionally talented instrumentalists. Chalota rips off another guitar rampage before the piano mood settles down to restful sleep. Brilliant!

As the title may imply, "Heavy Matter" is a sharp return into more conventional prog landscapes, the bass leading the way, setting down the mood, with the help of mellotron flute patches, and slowly begins the process of ratcheting up the angst. The piano certainly accentuates that Canterbury feel, (think Stewart and Sinclair), shaded by some nasty guitar shavings and a tight rhythm section shoving things along. By this time, I feel totally seduced and even slightly gaga over the quality of the menu here. A rousing axe solo sets the pleasure nodes on fire with a blistering lead that sizzles like a firefly on speed.

The finale sets the final stone, a vaguely familiar theme (Ten Years After- "You Give me Lovin" riff), a sublime rambling bass and more exhilarating piano cleverness. The melodic imagination is often an ingredient in Polish music, as there is always a strong mastery of melancholia in their spirit. I feel perfectly at home here. I would strongly pray that the band maintains this raw, realistic and fresh style and does not fall prey to overblown, candy-coated production that would sap the sheer essence of their musical attributes. A band that is worth watching and hearing more of in the future.

4.5 strangers from Krakow

Report this review (#2418750)
Posted Saturday, July 11, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars FREN ...., Magic !!!!!! Since releasing their album, I haven't stopped listening to it. With each new listening, I discover new sounds, new colors, new emotions !!!! Totally incredible this album which is really brilliant !!! From Pink Floyd to King Crimson through the big ones of Caravan, here we are in the presence of a little gem which can only resonate in us each time much louder !!!! I play it over and over at times, like an urgent need for this pallet of sounds of an exceptional rarity to be found nowadays in what concerns the creations. My friends and all my entourage here in France have completely adopted FREN, and France is just waiting for happiness one day to see them come and play in concert in France ... !!! Wonderful !!!!!!!!!!! France is waiting for you !!!!
Report this review (#2431580)
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2020 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Fren describe themselves as an instrumental, progressive quartet based in Kraków, Poland. Formed in 2017 by Oskar Cenkier (pianos, organs, synthesizers, mellotron), Michał Chalota (guitars), Andrew Shamanov (bass guitars, synthesizers) and Oleksii Fedoriv (drums), this is their debut album, and one which has been receiving fairly unanimous praise from those who have heard it. I have a real affinity with Polish progressive rock due to my links with the scene over there, and have been contributing to a Polish website for many years, and it never ceases to amaze me just how much great music there is to be discovered by those who are prepared to venture away from the norm.

Here we have an eclectic prog band who are taking many influences from the Seventies and even late Sixties and then bringing them right up to date. There are classic keyboard sounds, including of course a mellotron, yet the guitar is far more modern, as is the bass, while the drums are often more rooted in jazz style. The result is something which is classic, timeless, yet also fresh and exciting. The rhythm section provide the foundation for keyboards and guitars to interact, and while there are a few times they do sound like classic Genesis that is actually very few and far between (there are a few bars on "Surge" which make me think that every time I hear it), but there are also elements of Tull and Crimson, while the bass playing in particular owes something to the Canterbury scene. But then over all of that is a rock guitar which is far more modern, both in sound and in style, and it is the combination of modern playing combined with traditional which really makes this stand out.

It is incredibly melodic and a really easy album to listen to and enjoy the first time of playing. There are many deft nuances and touches, and it certainly never comes across as a debut release but instead feels far more like an album from seasoned professionals. This is thoroughly enjoyable and definitely worth of investigation.

Report this review (#2444866)
Posted Friday, September 4, 2020 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A remarkable debut album of solid, mature compositions from this classically-influenced "jazz" quartet from Kraków, Poland.

1. "Twin Peaks" (4:41) effectively used Mellotron flutes with PINK FLOYD/Post Rock (MONO) music beneath. Nice! (9/10)

2. "Surge" (9:43) jazz-bluesy, slow to develop/display instrumental prowess--though heavily drenched in Mellotron and early MOODY BLUES-like sound palette and feel. Moves toward a more ÄNGLAGÅRD-like palette and style in the fourth minute, though it never quite reaches the pace and precision of the Swedes. Denigrates into a more BLUE ÖYSTER CULT palette and style in the eighth minute--which, then, plays out to the end. (16.75/20)

3. "Goraca Linia" (2:59) rousing raucous of classical-jazz-infused rock. (9/10)

4. "Pleonasm" (12:02) classical-jazz piano intro turns at 1:04 into RENAISSANCE "Trip to the Fair" intro. Pretty awesome! Piano and jazzy electric guitar blend together perfectly over solid bass and drums rhythm track. Drops a little in refreshing innovativeness with stereotypic jazz guitar solo in fifth minute. Returns to a RENAISSANCE quality movement in the sixth before segueing into a nice piano-supported rock guitar solo and more tightly performed staccato whole-band chord play. Eighth minute sees a guitar-supported piano solo before bombastic crescendo of "power chords." This is followed by spacious soft section in which piano plays sensitive solo before dueting with jazz guitar. I'm also reminded of AFTER CRYING as I listen to the music being attempted here. Great outro.(22.5/25)

5. "Heavy Matter" (6:23) Opens with jazzy bass line, add piano, add electric guitar, add drums, and you've got the intro to what becomes a SANTANA-like groovin' jam (though a little more shape-shifting than Carlos' typical work). Superlative guitar soloing in the sixth minute! Wow! Technical skill of Colin Tench with emotionality of David Gilmour. (8.75/10)

6. "Time to Take Stones Away" (8:41) set up by a high-quality whole-band chord progression, electric guitar soars before music segues into more classically-tinged ALAN PARSONS-like section. At 4:10 we get a shift into a bass-line-led section that initially has a CURE-like feel until going back to a rapid fire jazz-rock whole-band chord progression at the six-minute mark. Piano solos between recapitulations of this "riff" and final slide into denouement. Pretty cool song! (17.5/20)

Total Time 44:29

Though I've heard the Änglagård comparisons, I only felt them once, in part of the epic "Surge." Otherwise, there is quite an eclectic sound and stylistic palette used.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of refreshing jazz- and classically-tinged instrumental progressive rock. Definitely a band to watch for future development.

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Posted Friday, September 11, 2020 | Review Permalink

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