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Pale Mannequin - Colours of Continuity CD (album) cover


Pale Mannequin

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Pale Mannequin are a Polish progressive rock from Warsaw, who started out as a solo project of guitarist and vocalist Tomasz Izdebski in 2016. However, as the process of writing for the debut album progressed, Tomasz joined forces with Jakub Lukowski on drums, Dariusz Goc on bass and Grzegorz Mazur on guitar and vocals, and they shared their broad musical influences and inspirations to produce the well-received Patterns of Parallel album in 2019 ? which looked as the idea of predestination in our patterns and habits.

Whilst their influences recognisably include Riverside, Porcupine Tree, Katatonia and Opeth, their style of progressive metal is much more melancholic, contemplative and varied. The band blends more traditional progressive rock sounds along with post-rock and art-rock elements and they are open to experimentation around these generic styles.

Colours of Continuity is a more collective effort than the debut, according to Tomasz, and whilst it leans towards heavier and more energetic compositions on occasions, it continues the more thoughtful approach to their music and their lyrics. As they state: "Rarely can we understand and interpret things without a good perspective. Colours of Continuity is an album inspired by how things in life lead to one other, as well as our restless efforts to categorise them and our surrounding reality."

The album starts with The Sleeper ? with atmospheric sounds preceding a mid-tempo bass and drum rhythm and languid vocals and instrumentation which builds up with bursts of guitar and controlled power before an elegant end with chiming guitar notes. Inkblot maintains the melancholic feel but has more melodic guitar themes over the plaintive vocals, with clean guitar soloing over a canter of rhythmic chords. There is nice use of vocal harmonies and a touch of synthesizer in the mid-section tempo change. Already the influence of Riverside and Porcupine Tree can be seen, but these are well-constructed songs that the band have stamped their own identity onto. "We reflect each other's hopes and fears, bound by those walls that we learned to love."

Scattered starts quietly, with a haunting soundscape before a slow, measured tempo takes over. Acoustic guitar and effects entwine with some dreamy, but nicely measured electric guitar soloing, as the power builds towards the end. The band call the title a metaphor for (dis)continuity in our lives. Most Favourite Trap is the band at their most accessible and commercial. It has almost an 'indie'/art-rock' feel as the song flows and dreamily dances over us and once again there are well-pitched, soaring guitar lines lifting up the sound where necessary. At times the vocals have a Jadis-like pulsed pattern to them and the subtle of use of keyboards and harmonised vocals, as the pace temporarily slows, keeps everything moving forward smoothly. The accompanying video has Napoleonic-period socialites dancing as the lyrics take us beyond the rigid constraints of polite society: "Well, there are times when I try to run away. But you keep on giving me more and more. When I'm down you kindly provide me with a smile. Then my head gets blurry. I no longer see a way out. You're my most favourite trap."

Inertia is more powerful, 3-part track, with darker guitar riffs and more urgent drumming and strong bass lines. There is a hint of a 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' vibe at times, to my ears at least, and the vocals are at their most Steven Wilson-like on the album ? but it all works rather well. Maniac's Mind is less immediate, but trots along dreamily and serenely at times and provides a refreshing contrast in tempo and style.

Colours of Continuity is not only the longest track, but the heaviest as well ? despite it starting quietly and contemplatively. Soaring guitars over an epic, stately beat follow and they take us through several changes in style and pace. Dark and frantic guitar work then brings it close to the progressive metal of Opeth. The brief few lines of unclean vocals (not my favourite aspect of metal) actually integrate well into the musical darkness. Clean vocals above strummed power chords then give way to the narrated thoughts of Richard Dawkins on 'the discontinuous mind' - in keeping with the overall theme of the album - before the epic ends with a ringing guitar motif.

The final track, In Mono, is basically an instrumental one, and begins with reverse tape effects of musical and vocal themes (in true 'Twin Peaks' style) but settles into smooth, reverb guitar-based instrumentation and repeated patterns over synths creating a hypnotic soundscape, before a final few lines of spoken narration: "Yesterday's worries now paint our reality. We try to erase them, so far we can't succeed. It is a warning to who is following our path. We thought this may come, yet did not truly believe it." One last blast of post-rock returns us to the haunting, reverse tape effects again ? reprising some earlier themes - bringing us back full circle on our journey.

Colours of Continuity is an album well worth investigating. On one level the band's influences ? especially Riverside and Porcupine Tree ? are clear to see and do provide the prospective listener with a convenient point of reference when approaching this album. However, the more you listen, the more you realise that they have undoubtedly stamped their own identify on the music and they run through many different styles across the progressive spectrum. In keeping with the album's title, there is linkage between the tracks, which grows stronger with repeated plays. Labelling them as progressive metal is too simplistic. This is not music sticking to the expectations of a particular genre. There is light and shade which all followers of prog rock can enjoy.

As the band have stated themselves ? the pale mannequin can be dressed in many different styles of clothes.

(From The Progressive Aspect)

Report this review (#2581374)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2021 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The sophomore release from a quartet of melodic Polish heavy prog rockers. 1. "The Sleeper" (4:23) with a guitar sound all their own, the vocal performance is very much like countryman Mariuz Duda's style and timbre. (8.5/10)

2. "Inkblot" (5:47) a harder-edged, RIVERSIDE-like sound, this straightforward rocker has nice melodies and a very nice multi-voiced chorus. As am matter of fact, several times as my attention was distracted from listening to this song, I found myself thinking that I was, in fact, listening to Riverside when I brought my attention back! Are Poland's premier prog rockers that adored that everyone wants to emulate them or adopt their sound--or are musical equipment retail stores and studio engineers only selling/promoting the Riverside sound? (8.75/10)

3. "Scattered" (4:08) Some great music--chord progression (simple as it is), instrument/sound palette, melodic flow, and guitar soloing. Pleasing and satisfying to all prog sensibilities yet, there's nothing really new here. (8.75/10)

4. "Most Favorite Trap" (5:46) sounds like a merger of ANEKDOTEN and RIVERSIDE. Excellent shift into an excellent B Section at 1:40--but the rhythm guitar track quickly wears out its welcome--should have been let go of until the next chorus or dramatic shift. Great multi-voice chorus and electric guitar solo. The standard two-part, three-chord rock chord sequence becomes old--the switch out at 4:45 is a bit late--and then it comes back with an almost disco beat. All these elements of greatness wasted by poor choices. (8.5/10)

5. "Inertia" (8:30) this song sounds like a demo version of a VOTUM song (also country mates). Nice but could still be more developed. The rather brief guitar solo that begins in the second half of the seventh minute is pure RIVERSIDE. Nice multi-voice a cappella vocal weave to finish. A top three song for me. (17.5/20)

6. "Maniac's Mind" (5:05) great, deeply engaging soundscape and weave to open. Another beautiful example of the more atmospheric side of fellow Polish hard-rockers VOTUM--especially Harvest Moon era. Excellent controlled melodic guitar solo between the first and second verses. I love the CURE-like guitar riff and the two-voiced vocals. Another top three song. (9/10)

7. "Colours of Continuity" (10:52) slow, belaboured power prog with the band's more-accented vocalist in the lead moves through a heavier PINK FLOYD-like song until the second verse begins at 2:12 when the guitar play begins to sound more like STONE TEMPLE PILOTS. This effect backs off every time lead singer softens his voice but then returns with the more grungy vocalizations and, surprise, death metal growls. The song is now definitely feeling more like the Prog Metal bands of the late 1990s and 2000s--racing low-end rhythm guitar play like OPETH--but then things shift in a PORCUPINE TREE-like way in the seventh minute before the vocals turn more toward Then there's an interesting narrator discourse on the discriminatory effect of assigning the terms "tall" or "short" to women--brilliant for its absurdity: the comic light it shines upon humans for their nit-picky categorization and "party" loyalties. My other top three song. (17.75/20)

8. "In Mono" (6:02) a benign filler; an instrumental save for the same British narrator from above discoursing a string of fancy phrases which, in fragmented isolation, are each rendered nonsense and absurd--examples of the masturbatory proclivities of the arrogant self-possessed. Again, a brilliant illustration and indictment of the way the elite use words/language--and time--against their "inferiors." Musically, okay; conceptually brilliant. (8.75/10)

Total Time 50:33

I LOVE the sounds created by this band--on all levels, from all instruments and voices--I just think they need better constructive criticism from experienced outside voices (producers, engineers, etc.) so that they don't overplay anything or underdevelop their compositions. More growth and maturity. There's still work to be done, boys!

B/four stars; a solid sophomore effort and something well worth checking out for yourselves.

Report this review (#2598908)
Posted Sunday, October 3, 2021 | Review Permalink

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