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Klan - Mrowisko CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.07 | 71 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars While Western Europe was going through a musical renaissance of sort with progressive rock bands blossoming in every land, the former Soviet Eastern block and its satellite border nations were somewhat left out of the game although there are many bands that bucked the censorship and attempted to create some of the music that was considered a threat to the control systems set up. One of these bands was a Polish group named KLAN which formed in 1969 Warsaw and along with Anawa and Czesław Niemen, was one of the earliest Polish bands to exhibit true full developed progressive rock qualities. KLAN has also been considered on of the best example of Poland's early prog movement however due to the pioneering ambitions never managed to released more than a single self-titled EP in 1970 and its only full-length MROWISKO in 1971. The title means 'Anthill.'

While the band has had different lineups with future reunions, the earliest members were Marek Alaszewski (guitar, vocals), Maciej Gluszkiewicz (acoustic piano, organ), Roman Pawelski (guitar, bass) and Andrzej Poniatowski (drums, vocals). The band played in Warsaw's club 'Medyk' and found a small following with its unusual mix of progressive rock music and jazz-sensibilities all wrapped up psychedelia and surreal antics much in the vein of fellow Polish artist Niemen. The band's only true album MROWISKO released in 1971 on Muza Polish Recordings contains material from the ballet of the same name that the band wrote in 1970. The performance itself lasted around 80 minutes but the music was cut in half in order to fit on an album. Very much inspired by the psychedelic rock of the 60s, the main influences seem to be Vanilla Fudge and early Jethro Tull however the sporadic inclusion of frenetic percussive ensembles clearly displays a strong connection with Santana. Ominous organ runs also evoke the Mark II era of Deep Purple.

MROWISKO is an interesting mix of styles and moods that implements some serious psychedelic organ freakery while creating interesting knotty compositional shifts that tackle various tones, timbres and textures that result in the album flowing into myriad directions. It starts off with bird sounds that starkly contrast with the heavy jazz-rock sounds of 'Kuszenie' which sounds a bit like The Nice meets Vanilla Fudge only somewhere in that time continuum where the 60s meets the 70s along with some Woodstock samplings of Santana's percussive explosiveness. 'Nerwy Miast' takes on a funkier vibe with a groovy bass line but drifts into what sounds like the symphonic prog that was being generated from Italy at the time. The band seemed to have access to the music of the outside world despite the fact that it was extremely difficult for the Eastern block to find Western artists. Also presented is a touch of blues and jazz.

Throughout the album's typical playing time of 42 minutes for 70's vinyl, the band steers the rock opera into different progressive arenas but mostly sticks to the heavy psych organ runs and sensual guitar sweeps that are accompanied by the lyrics performed in the Polish language which means the story will be lost on those who don't speak the lingo but the music is so excellent that it matters not. Graced with interesting time signature changes, hairpin turns in continuity and extra sounds like classical guitars and frightening organ terror, it's easy to fall for KLAN's only album MROWISKO which sounds often like some sort of mutant Slavic version of Deep Purple that got a bit more crazy with the prog influences. It's excellent how well this flows together and it would even be interesting to hear a future re-issue where they release the entire 80 minutes of music.

While artists like SBB and Czesław Niemen managed to stick around for a long time on the Polish scene, KLAN on the other hand folded fairly quickly when Głuszkiewicz and Poniatowski left the band in 1971, the same year of this album's release. The band would reform periodically over the years and the members remained busy in other projects but MROWISKO remains the highlight of the early progressive rock scene that was woefully small in comparison but by listening to this album, one has to admit that had Poland and the other communist nations been allowed to develop and nurture their artistic visions more openly that those same nations would have been just as much on par with the rest of Europe. But that was not in the history books so we can only leave the possibilities to our imaginations, however this album is quite real and well worth the effort of tracking down. A unique small miracle from the most unlikely of times and places.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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