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AMAROK

Crossover Prog • Poland


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Amarok biography
Founded in Warsaw, Poland in 1999 - Hiatus between 2005-2017
Michał Wojtas - Born 23rd of December 1977 (Kielce, Poland)

He began to play as a child. He played only piano. That time his musical abilities and creativity appeared. He found his inspirations in the music of J. M. Jarre.

With the end of primary school he started to play classic guitar. Later on he learned some techniques of playing on ethnic percussion instruments and so on. He was studying music mainly by his own, moreover he attended secondary musical school and also other institutions connected with music.

In the meantime he was creating for the TV Kielce and for local broadcasts. In 1993 Michał for the first time heard about instrumental art of Mike Oldfield. This occurance changed the direction of his artistic development. As he was fascinted with Oldfield's music, he tried to imitate his way of playing electric guitar. Pink Floyd also influenced him. Then he met Bartosz Jackowski, a person with similar inspirations, guitarist. In consequence they started to cooperate for next few years. Michał and Bartosz composed separately, but after they put it together,and that is how their music was created. Michał did also an arrangement.

In years 1996-97 they recorded the first demo. They went to Warsaw, to independent editor Ars Mundi. It was promoting music on Japan and Western European markets. They got quite positive and warm feedback from the chief of Ars Mundi - Mieczysław Stoch. He was ready to risk and edit their debut. But they resigned cause they didn't feel ready to do this. They wanted to wait until their ideas would be more clear and concrete.

During further work on the tracks and creating new music, Michał started to be guitarist in pop-rock group 'Soundwich' (later 'Tokyo'). The group was giving concerts and the voices of critics were approving.'Sounwich' recorded two demo records. Nevertheless Michał left the group, he preferred to play music for Ars Mundi.

In 1999 Michał started to study in Institute of Musical Education in Akademia Owiętokrzyska in Kielce. One year later he decided to record demo with different instrumental tracks. Thanks to the fascination in Oldfields album 'Amarok', he gave its name to his project.

In 2001 there was the next meeting with Mieczysław Stoch. Soon after this, the decision about the recording the debut of Amarok was made up. There were also some...
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AMAROK discography


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AMAROK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.69 | 45 ratings
Amarok
2001
2.65 | 26 ratings
Neo Way
2002
2.97 | 30 ratings
Metanoia
2004
3.84 | 82 ratings
Hunt
2017
3.59 | 23 ratings
The Storm
2019
4.03 | 54 ratings
Hero
2021
4.47 | 31 ratings
Hope
2024

AMAROK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.33 | 3 ratings
Hunt + Live 2018
2022

AMAROK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

AMAROK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

AMAROK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.75 | 4 ratings
It's Not the End
2021
4.67 | 3 ratings
Surreal
2021
4.00 | 1 ratings
Hope Is
2023
4.50 | 2 ratings
Insomnia
2024
4.00 | 1 ratings
Welcome / Queen
2024
3.83 | 3 ratings
Don't Surrender
2024

AMAROK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hope by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2024
4.47 | 31 ratings

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Hope
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by Southern Star

5 stars I was drawn to Amarok through HERO, which, although heavily influenced, had a couple of outstanding tracks that kept me intrigued. Roll on to 2024 and this outstanding album is clearly a band at the top of its game. It's apparent Amarok has been a platform for the multi-talented Michel Wotjas , however on this occasion it's clearly a band effort with all members having significant contributions. Both the bassist (come violinist and extra keyboardist) Kornel and drummer Konrad take lead vox on one of their own compositions, and they provide plenty of heavily lifting throughout. Ten outstanding tracks, all so different from each other, and with so many elements to each, although there's never too long to wait for a sumptuous guitar interlude, often slide. Michels plaintive vocals are suited, at times he reminds me of Kashmirs lead vocalist. Highlights for me are the brilliantly building Insomnia, the wrenching minimalism of Simple Pleasures, the driving force of Trail, and Stay Human (complete with E- bow solo reminiscent of Mercury Rev). HOPE Is the album which presents Amarok as a true band, more than just Michel and guests. Furthermore HOPE Is the album that raises Michel beyond more than a musician reviving memories of Gilmour and Oldfield Early days, but this is IMO the most exciting prog release of 2024.
 Hope by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2024
4.47 | 31 ratings

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Hope
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Ever since their very first release back in 2001, I got hooked on this Polish band, enthralled by the incredible multi- instrumental talents of mainstay Michal Wojtas, particular enamoured by the three long "Fieldmour" tracks, which as the title aptly describes, is a Mike Oldfield/David Gilmour homage of the highest calibre. After 2 less than perfect released and 13 years of silence, we leap fast forward to 2017 with the stellar Hunt album, a quantum jump in quality immediately led the prog community to anoint high praise and critical approval. In 2010, The Storm and especially the glowing Hero album in 2021 just elevated further this tight band into sliding not far behind the beloved Riverside as Poland's finest prog band. With stellar backing in the form of bassist, violinist and cellist Kornel Poplawski, the percussive side manned by Konrad Zielinski and finally Marta Wojtas supplying voices and percussion, band leader Michal Wojtas refined his vision even more, leaving far behind those early Mike and Dave influences, as well as a brief tinge of Knopfler on the sophomore album. This album needs to be listened to in its entirety and in sequence, as it becomes intoxicating rather quickly and lasts to the final bitter seconds.

Armed with a tantalizing guitar riff and some spooky electronics that surely define the weirdness we currently live in, "Hope Is" shatters the apathy with a masterful exposition of modern prog and indicating the direction it should be going in the future, Marta's sung words of courage in the face of the darkest hours ahead provide some semblance of panacea. The rhythm section marshals a fair bit of ferocity, as Michal's hardwired guitar spirals into the skies above. Nice prog wake up slap in the face. Immediately addictive due to the repetitive "Stay Human" chorus, and pronounced charmingly as hew-man, the arrangement is dreamingly minimalist with the lightest percussion accompaniment and an equally resonant stinging guitar line. Eventually, the pressure builds up with careening synthesized sonics that sound like war sirens blaring, exhibiting a kind of looming doom that cannot fade away, actually revving up into a slow churning frenzy. A genius track that would have worked on a classic Floyd album of your choice.

Definitely a highlight, "Insomnia" slices through the soporific atmosphere where a mournful violoncello rakes the nerves, as sleep will not arrive regardless. The fear of the unknown is not exactly ideal for slumber. The lead guitar is wretchedly uncomfortable, a turbulent sense of dismay within the notes, as the brutal riff compounds the pain and the lead vocal cries out both scared, scarred and in dire need of relief. Absolutely terrific. Exposing strong electronic tendencies that set the tone for the next sonic horizon, "Trail" is an introspective voyage seeking understanding, perhaps even finding wisdom somewhere down the road, that clanging rhythmic pulse adding to the suspense. As the slide guitar scorches the path ahead, increasingly furious, and intense, the mood shifts to a sudden respite, a clearing where the danger arrives unannounced with frightening heaviness, recalling some of the finer Porcupine Tree onslaughts. I collapse exhausted. After such fierce intensity, "Welcome" is most refreshing, a brooding neo-gothic lament with Kornel Poplawski on the microphone, dark cloudy electronic orchestrations that add to the submissive nature of the arrangement. The second half relives the earlier vocal instrumentally, with echoing e-piano and screaming guitars, one can imagine a modern prog version of Bauhaus.

Another killer track (as if the others weren't), the sombre "Queen" is seriously disturbing, a funereal, dystopian, slightly deranged composition, where the dense music is heavily laden with doom and gloom, the anxious voice in abject surrender. The tortured axe solo verges on insanity, the zombie growls to be dreaded, the bass and drum in mortal ruin. The rambling nature of "Perfect Run" comes across as a scamper towards some kind of salvation, fleeing impossible dread and mental or physical invasion. The wandering tone is both positive and negative, as is typical with the human brain, always subjected to the extremes. A chugging train headed towards freedom but lingering pain at what was left behind, both unknowns that need to be confronted. The tragically overwhelming anthem "Don't Surrender" suggests that hope can only come by vanquishing the fear, replacing it with courage, determination and will power to carry on. Spoken words, surely prayers and oohing choruses offering comfort.I could not help to close my tired eyes and envision the immense suffering that has been going on in the Ukraine, for which this album could definitely be a role model. Perhaps some of us far away from that reality should stop complaining about their frivolous problems. Case in point, the album continues with "Simple Pleasures" the longest piece presented here and a fitting call for peaceful understanding that we all inhabit this blue planet, we breathe the same air, and we all hope, I said HOPE, for a better life for our children. Yes, it's a turbulent world where opinions override facts, where agendas overcome decency and respect, and endless glorification of self needs to be vanquished. When will we learn that hope is simply not enough.

The tragically simple "Dolina" reflects over the valley that lies ahead, sung in Polish and accompanied by solemn strings. 5 victims of our expectations

 Hope by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2024
4.47 | 31 ratings

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Hope
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars Crossover, ethnic, symphonic, singular world prog, colorful, eclectic music shaking up traditional progressive codes.

'Hope Is' starts heavy on a gritty riff, soft synth to round out; Marta imprints the Amarok touch, the nervous-space side and the vibrating synth; heavy, heavy and hovering like a remake of Hero but stronger on The Gathering; slide guitar solo full of emotion for a countdown finale. 'Stay Human' melancholic, bucolic sensation, that of Anathema, repetitive sweetness to enter the album; break with the theremin to captivate and restore rhythm, one of those explosive with tribal percussions; to headbang in 2024 in an 'overloop' way. 'Insomnia' southern slide, Scandinavian, take your pick; stretched guitars, cozy atmosphere, melting marshmallow; murmured backing vocals, violin; emotion in bar for the ballad and the Gilmourian guitar solo; the finale explodes in the vein of an indie rock The Gathering with Michal showing his vocal and keyboard talent. 'Trail' begins with Floydian percussion, trance rhythm, drum & bass the innovation is there; the soul of Jean Michel Jarre too; electronics invite themselves, Marta and the synths go to Oldfield and Knopfler; a blissful crescendo made for trance dreaming; the last part explodes, that's the word on these different titles: a controlled brutality of heavy, invasive, hypnotic sounds which makes you nod as if to finish this high-flying trail. 'Welcome' its cold wave in the distance, drums and Konrad on vocals, metronomic tune, the guitar eyeing more and more that of Ry Cooder; Orgasmic and aerial psyche-trance all at once with these vintage sounds like the Floydian keyboard.

'Queen' begins with a post-stoner tune, Kornel on vocals to easily build this track; languorous sound of Monster Magnet, Monkey3, the voice reminding me of the Smashing Pumpkins; the violin adds a melancholy plaintive layer with orgasmic ecstasy; final decrescendo. 'Perfect Run' instrumental with deafening synth bringing a syncopated, danceable rhythm, ready to go jogging; a trace of the Tangerine dream of the 80s, an interlude bordering on an enthusiastic Lunatic Soul, a tune that combines like a hypnotic repetitive tune. 'Don't Surrender' solemn piano, captivating voice, melancholy arpeggio, chorus overwhelming with its sweetness; the reverberating synth, the phrased voice laying out this title, a military ballad day of mourning; the sax solo ah non guitar warm, languorous, disturbing with a final crescendic rise.'Simple Pleasures' horses, piano, the air of contemplation oozes; title focused on ambient, progression, latency; Michal shows that you can do beautiful things with little.'Dolina' with his accordion on a typical Polish text; nursery rhyme worthy of a 'Gypsy Time'.

Great art-rock.(4.5)

 Don't Surrender by AMAROK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2024
3.83 | 3 ratings

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Don't Surrender
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

4 stars This can be like the wine-taster's job sometimes. He just clicks tongue against palate and spits: "I can feel notes of such and such wood, fruits, species or whatever". How did those "notes" come into that particular vintage, we will never know. They're just there, and we are being informed. Well, I definitely feel some recognizable notes in this brand new album by the Polish band Amarok, so it's my job to tell you people.

The album starts with a very good electric guitar riffage, enough to make you feel that things are going to rock a bit eventually, which most of the times is good, in my book. After that, in the second and third track, and backing excellent psychedelic-tinged vocals soaked in reverb, there come the notes, in the form of some Depeche Mode kind of groove propulsed by the rhythm section, and haunted by somber, Ultravox's Billy Currie-like synths. Ok, there you have, blame it on the sommelier in me, but give it a chance first, and take a listen. It's all there, I promise.

And from there on, there is much more to come, now in the form of floydian - via Porcupine Tree - soli, solidly amazing vocal harmonies, even a more upfront vocal delivery in the piano based ballad Don't Surrender. All good, and never detracting from the personal quality of this music, being rather like those notes sent by the wind into the wine, just to enhance its flavor.

The closing track is a whole different story, just a brief moment of chilling emotion with Polish vocals accompanied by what sounds like an accordion sounding synth.

Excellent, and refreshing to these ears.

 Hero by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.03 | 54 ratings

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Hero
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

5 stars Amarok is releasing their 6th album. Michal Wojtas debuted in 1999, he played the piano fan of JM Jarre, then took to the guitar loving Mike Oldfield and Pink Floyd. An innovative fusion of styles starting from ambient, folk prog, eclectic post rock, hypnotic space rock, all embellished with an aerial Knopfler guitar at times and unusual instruments such as the violin, the theremin , the wind gong, the djembe, the harmonium, the flute and the rain sticks. Gazpacho and Riverside are often thought of while listening to them. History, potential human survival as a covid backdrop when you hold us!

"It's Not the End" begins electro ŕ la Duda, well they know each other it's no coincidence, floydian hints, fresh air that makes you leap, jump for joy; it's sweet, graceful almost pop post; female voice over starting on a tortured, rhythmic, modern instrumental where the guitar solo can recall the sonic drifts of Rutten of the Gathering. 'Surreal'brit electro pop at the start, supercharged rock-pop synth, a post-Sigur Ros guitar that thrills you; Michal sinks his voice into the captivating, haunting tune between a Lunatic Soul, a Suburban Savages and a Leprous. '' Hail! Hail! Al '' sinks ... the sound with a trip-hop scale evident here, rhythmic, monolithic trance struck by a depressive violin for a while, more gypsy folk later; a bit of Howie B for that ethereal feel and of The Orb for their work with Gilmour; precisely "The Orb" arrives and denotes, synthetic rhyme, romantic ballad with overflowing spleen; moment of musical contemplation with a voice associated with the piano all flowing as if from a spring; a theremin has to hide somewhere and vibrate the air leading to introspection. "The Dark Parade" continues its momentum and manages to combine tribal, reverberating rhythms a la Brendan Perry, a sound of Mariusz Duda and decadent new wave tones of Killing Joke or The Cure; a magnificent musical malmström with a final crescendo for an intoxicating dark atmosphere. '' Hero' for the most intimate piece, quiet rhythm, syncopated by the drums, slide guitar filled with emotion; modern sounding title that flows naturally, atmospheric; a last solo with torn notes that sends up there; beauty is at this price. Spatial, austere "What You Sow", the 2001 monolith has landed and exudes this air from behind Jupiter, ideal for putting on your diving suit and taking a deep breath of what little air remains in space; restful, as raw as an aria by Ray Linch, staged as the Anathema did so well, a sublime intimate piece. Note a title on vinyl Subconsciousness.

Amarok wants to bring us to a form of inner peace, to a moment of musical serenity; the sounds are based on the synths which allow to get out of anxious climates and on the guitar which gives access to musical peace. A sumptuous sound apart, embellished with dark and divine climates, far from any current sound movement; progressive rock is not the end of its revolution, it is perfected with this group where the exotic musical fusion sends very far. The year is not over but has just fulfilled one of my top potentials.

 The Storm by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.59 | 23 ratings

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The Storm
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars Michal Wojtas is a musician of genius for having released "the storm" at that time. He 'didn't hesitate to give in the ambient, post rock, rock hovering and to give each of his compositions a very special aura. The aim of this album is undoubtedly to bring you to a form of inner peace, to a moment of musical serenity; the sounds are more based on the synths that allow to get out of anxious climates and to be able to bring to a musical peace. The aim of this album is undoubtedly to bring you to a form of inner peace, to a moment of musical serenity; the sounds are more based on the synths that allow to get out of anxious climates and to be able to bring to a musical peace. After the "facing the truth" of more than 18 minutes, you will however be entitled to the last two songs sung , which breaks a little the atmosphere posed by the rest of the album. A record apart, which does not pretend to become a record with tubes to support, but that will allow you to keep a serenity in these uncertain times, it is for me already, much.
 Hunt by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.84 | 82 ratings

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Hunt
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A nice album from this one man led Polish band which seems to aspire to emulate countrymen RIVERSIDE/Mariusz DUDA. They do so, though much more on the mellower and electronic-assisted side. The gifted, creative force behind this album, Michał Wojtas, might have a viable place in the pop world á la JAMES BLAKE.

1. "Anonymous" (6:41) Nice atmospheric music though I'm not sure I like the synthesized drums and thin sound of the lead electric guitar. All instrumental opener which actually does a very nice job of introducing the feel and sound of the rest of the album. (8.5/10)

2. "Idyll" (5:41) featuring the mellifluous voice of prog legend Mariusz Duda, the song is almost purely a vehicle for just that--which is almost enough (superlative vocal, Mariusz!). (8.5/10)

3. "Distorted Soul" (5:32) sounds like a carryover from the previous song with some computer percussion tracks and very Mariusz Duda-like vocals from Michał Wojtas. I like the odd, aliens-from-outer-space synth in the fourth minute that leads into the song's awesome crescendo. Well done! (9.5/10)

4. "Two Sides" (5:09) opens with duduk playing over layers of atmospheric synths & treated piano. Very cinematic, very much like Peter GABRIEL's soundtrack music for The Last Temptation of Christ. Awesome! (10/10)

5. "Winding Stairs" (4:34) a more-pop-oriented song in the vein of JAMES BLAKE and SAM SMITH. Interesting (and surprising) key changes/chord progressions in the guitar solo section. (8.5/10)

6. "In Closeness" (5:52) opens with soloing distorted electric guitar before Middle Eastern-like computer and manual percussion tracks join in. The soft, almost-whispered vocal alternates with the ejaculations from the distorted guitar and some simple electronic keyboard work. This song makes me feel more inclined to urge this artist (Michał Wojtas) to pursue more of a pop music approach. He really has a gift/talent for electronic percussion combining and programming. There's a little TEARS FOR FEARS, NEW ORDER, or THE THE feel in Michał's song-construction, soundscape and singing styles. I very much like it. (9/10)

7. "Unreal" (4:40) more interesting "Blade Runner"-like solo electric guitar play to open this bluesy instrumental. At the one minute mark the guitar becomes more similar to a JEFF BECK/NIKITAS KISSONAS/COLIN TENCH sound and approach. Nice work. Very mature guitar play. (9/10)

8. "Nuke" (5:48) featuring the vocals of CAMEL's Colin Bass, this one just doesn't work for me. The Hawai'ian-like lead guitar work falls short. (7.5/10)

9. "Hunt" (17:52) a musical vehicle for the contemporary journalistic report of the way our ever invasive social media affects things like human privacy, safety, and even species evolution right now, it has a feel, at first, like one of the stories similar to the HIBERNAL story soundtracks that have made their way into progworld in recent years. At the four minute mark the song morphs fully into a Berlin School electronic sequenced song like KLAUS SCHULZE and SEQUENTIA LEGENDA. It's really well done! Definitely showing this artist's dexterity and eclecticism. Not just a great song--but a really well thought out one. If it's true that keyboardist/programmer Marta Wojtas deserves credit for this one, then kudos to her! The sequencing is truly engaging and well constructed! The slide guitar work is good. Great vocal performance in the second half. (9.5/10)

4.5 stars; an excellent album of atmospheric progressive rock music--a near-masterpiece.

 Hunt by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.84 | 82 ratings

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Hunt
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by demolition man

4 stars This is a very fine album, oozing with melody and beautiful musicianship. The vocals are perfect from Michał Wojtas, but the overall sound of this project is clearly defined with consistency throughout. An album that transcends excellency in all departments. There's room for guests Mariusz Duda (Riverside and Lunatic Soul) and Colin Bass (Camel) who clearly enjoys guesting in various Polish bands. Naturally there is a feel of Lunatic Soul and Camel in parts; but lovers of Moonrise will adore this too. Sublime keys and guitar. Take a break for an hour and immerse yourself. Another gem from Poland; a minimum 4 stars well deserved.
 Neo Way by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.65 | 26 ratings

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Neo Way
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars This album was kindly sent to me by Artur in Poland, and I have been able to find out virtually nothing about it on the web. I think that this is their second album on Ars Mundi, but I don't think that either band or label have a web site (which is unusual, to say the least). What I can say is that for the most part this is an instrumental album featuring the talents of just one man, Michael Wojtas, who seems to be as happy on guitar as he is on keyboards. Listening to some of the finger picking on "On The Road" it is hard to imagine that this is a prog album at all as it just bounds along without a care in the world.

But, this is an album that has taken influences by bands like Camel and brought them in with other styles to create a prog sound that at times is quite Eastern in its' approach but is always restful and relaxing. The Camel influence is taken further by guest Colin Bass who sings on the three songs that contain vocals. His warm tones add a further depth to the music. It is an album that is very pleasant and just right for the end of the day.

Originally appeared in Feedback #73, Jun 03

 Amarok by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.69 | 45 ratings

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Amarok
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by sinslice

4 stars I'm pretty surprised at how little attention has been given here to this very good work. As I always say or write, depending on what you want to hear, it is a very good choice for the genre.

Amarok plays mostly instrumental music in this album. And, as its name suggests, with some subtle hints or not so, the style of the great Mike Oldfield. There are also some shades of Pink Floyd. I do not think that this approach is detrimental to the product, on the contrary.

The acoustic and electric guitar is the main instrument here, with a transparent sound and neatly executed. A good dose of violin and flute add color and depth to the music.

Fildmour part I and part III are extraordinary. Aqu, Meriba, Seya and Massa are other highlights, to name a few more. The album is balanced.

The cover photograph is appropriate, and outlines a good idea of ​​what is presented in the music.

Later, Wojtas was looking for something different other sound. Neo Way is less original and Metanoia too experimental, at least for me.

I came by chance to listen to the first installment of Amarok, and welcome. I´m pleased.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghea for the last updates

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