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State Urge - White Rock Experience CD (album) cover

WHITE ROCK EXPERIENCE

State Urge

 

Crossover Prog

3.88 | 94 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The 'new breed' Polish prog bands such as Riverside, Believe, Arlon, Soma White and Lebowski have given a modern twist to the previously hard-core neo-prog that made groups like Collage, Millenium, Satellite, Abraxas, Quidam and Lizard such stalwart torchbearers for progressive music worldwide. Well, one can add the name of State Urge to the list, a young crew of talented lads from Gdynia who define their style in rather interesting terms, as per their website ''White Rock Experience- Three simple words. Each one separately, as well as all together, describe our artistic identity. White colour is always present in our scenic creation. Music that we play is most surely 'rock'. Experience is the key word defining our deep need of almost tangible contact between music and listener'. Hmm, not bad, in terms of branding their style, these musicians seem to be onto something. So what is 'white rock' like, you ask? A suave combination of moody pieces played with exceptional control, definitely progressive rock but with a polish (yeah, that was obvious, no?) that seems unreal for a debut prog band. Slick, modern, hard, very 21st century and shimmering with all sorts of explosive attractions. Sort of Porcupine Tree meets Midge Ure era Ultravox. Keyboardist Michal Tarkowski uses plenty of carving synths, brooding organ runs and dense orchestrations, giving the pieces a powerful symphonic sheen. Guitarist Marcin Cieslik has a strong command of his axes, screeching nicely and rocking hard when needed, which is often, as this is no placid fluff of an album. His voice is tremendous, showing that when you master a hard language like Polish or Hungarian, English becomes kind of easy. Think Mariusz Duda of Riverside fame, accent-less, bold, vibrant and convincing and at other times, a bluesy rocker like Paul Rodgers. The rhythm section is typical of Polish bands, rock solid and yet technical. In fact drummer Marcin Bochenski can give Wojtek Szadkowski (Collage, Satellite, Strawberry Fields, Peter Pan) a run for his title as the nation's finest drummer.

The material is exemplary, vividly cinematographic, thought provoking in mood and texture, though there is no piece longer than 8 minutes, which is quite a feat, each song rich with gripping notes and colossal construction. The instrumental 'Third Wave of Decadence' kicks off the festivities with grumbling synthesized effects, trembling axe shimmers, insistent piano and wide electronic colorations. Bombastic and monstrously elegant, the flow just ignites a profound sense of sonic expansion that draws immediate smiling tendencies.

Most tunes rock hard such as 'Preface', a hard almost punk ballad that bruises with incredible rage and power, Cieslik showing off some immense pipes while Tarkowski unleashes a thundering organ flurry that will drop your jaw. There is no specks of cereal in this can of dog food (to quote Uncle Frank), just meaty, lush, angry white rock music that would satisfy the bitch in you.

Delicate Chopin-like piano introduces the majestic 'Time Rush', another ardent collision between soft elegance and taciturn obsession, with a momentary lapse of reason by infusing a quirky sense of playfulness, crested by a momentous guitar solo that aches, screams and howls mercilessly. This is quite a display of progressive craftsmanship.

Of course, all this unrepressed angst needs a little two-pronged assault on one's senses, so why not offer a gorgeous ballad, hushed and pained vocals (here the Steve Wilson influence is quite evident), a chorus that convincingly belts 'I Long for You' while the synths twirl in the ether. I am thoroughly gaga, a romantic prog song has always been my weakness and this one sends an arrow deep into my Achilles heel. Modern beat with electronic drums kick this puppy into interstellar overdrive, fading nicely into the album's highpoint, the scintillating 'Illusion', an 8 minute groove adventure that would suit any motion picture production. Washes of dense electronics, pulsating sequencers, insistent and reptilian bass and slashing guitars all combine to slam you between the ears and ask for your abject and unconditional surrender. The mood veers into high density space rock dimensions, an offering of screeching axe howls that are almost unbearably perfect. Speechless!

'Tumbling Down'. Broodingly raspy guitar presents Cieslik's voice sounding almost like the legendary Paul Rodgers of Bad Company fame, a compliment of the highest order believe you me, which suddenly morphs into a sensational Led Zeppelin-esque tribute with its surly guitar solo, both nasty and bluesy, a harder version of 'No Quarter' comes to mind, with soft front and end sections. Damn unbelievable!

After recovering from all this pleasure where you almost feel like in need of a shower after such a barrage of great songs, white rock shows no mercy or desire to loosen the grip on the prey (yeah, you, buddy), a looping bass leads the ultra-pleasant voice into another dream cycle on '7:Gaze', churning organ and depth charge riffs tumble at you without any sense of pity or let-up. Drums smash pumpkins with unrelenting menace, raucous guitar that rekindle images of Montrose, Bad Company, Trapeze and Foghat. I kid you not, all in a proggy veneer.

The final cut (pun) is the organ-led 'All I Need', here evoking classic Spooky Tooth sensibilities, laced with some Pink Floyd eccentricities with loads of effects, menace and foreboding, all within a groove oriented sarcophagus, spunky drumming and that nasty, churlish Hammond blasting away. The electric guitar solo is not too shabby either, manic, insistent, desperate and lethal. A brief Ultravox section a la 'Vienna' gives the piece added amplitude and scenic drive. Bubbly bass renders the fat and kicks you when you're down on the ground, smiling helplessly.

My goodness, prog kids everywhere, do yourself a favor and hunt this urgent, aggressive and bold experience down! I know I intend to play this one a lot. And to think that some accuse me of liking softer prog! This ain't soft, baby!

5 Government impulses

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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