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Collage - Baśnie CD (album) cover

BAśNIE

Collage

 

Neo-Prog

3.62 | 145 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars The debut album from the first Polish Neo Prog masters--and what a debut it is! Can a band of young artists create a masterpiece right from the get go? Apparently many of these songs had been floating around since the mid- 1980s, so the band obviously had time to practice, perform, and re-work much of the content that ended up on this album.

1. "Jeszcze jeden dzien (One More Day)" (4:10) opens with a tight full force guitar wailing sound. Yep! This is Collage! Singer Tomek Rozycki joins in before the end of the first minute singing in Polish, sounding like FALCO. The guitar's counter-punch power chords offsetting Tomek's "yesh dai em" vocals are very cool, otherwise the vocal is rather lame and unengaging. One can't help but listen to the powerful wailing of Mirek Gil's guitar going on with increasing frequency and increasing fire throughout the song. Also, the drumming is quite good. (8.5/10)

2. "Ja i ty (Me and You)" (3:20) has a bit of a folk sound to both its structure and its melodies. The vocal is a bit weak but the song is refreshing. (8/10)

3. "Kołysanka '87 (Lullaby)" (4:50) (fragment) Despite being a supposed fragment from an 1987 tape called "Change," this song has all of the sounds, stylings, and positive attributes of the best of Collage's 1990s output. The background wash of the keys, the reverbed vocal, the catchy melodic hooks and the adventurous, emotional playing of a young, fiery Mirek Gil. (8.75/10)

4. "Baśnie (Fairy Tales)" (10:00) Though the title song and, thus, a centrally focused feature of the album, this may be one of the weaker songs on the album. It opens nicely, with some very pleasant key and gtr sounds playing arpeggi of two very pretty chords, and then it jumps into hyper drive around the one minute mark while retaining its pleasing sounds and melodies (thanks to the keys), but the vocal is a little strained and feels a little mismatched to the music. While the music continues to feel lively over the two chord structure (especially the drumming), there is little surprise or flair in the first four minutes. Then there is a slowed down, strumming guitar section through the fifth minute in which the singer returns, telling his story. The instrumentalists pick it up at the 5:00 mark followed by a nice Mirek Gil solo, but the vocal sections just fail to attain the same heights of interest or engagement. At 6:45 there is another stop gap before the music takes a right turn into a different key and chord progression but neither the vocal nor the instruments (other than awesomely chunky bass playing) fail to excite. Then, at 8:20, the chills begin as a single note from the oh-so familiar and oh-so revered Mirek Gil guitar sound peels forth from the lower registers of the A string. It's as if the floor is cleared on the basketball court to let Michael, Kobe or LeBron show us some of one-on-one their magic. Though the solo doesn't achieve mind-blowing heights--and is cut off by a much- to-early finish to the song--it does give us that shot of excitement and reminder of all that is to come from this guitar maestro. (17.5/20)

5. "Dalej, dalej (Farther and Farther)" (7:00) opens with electric guitar arpeggio and multiple layers of fairy-like synth sounds. Mirek switches to strumming just before the singer enters at 0:50. The music still hasn't quite gelled but the vocal is good, the music finally filling in fully at the 1:40 mark--just before a brief passage for a guitar solo. When Tomek returns to sing his voice is much more delicate, almost whispery. Nice melodies--especially the one dueted by Mirek and Tomek at the end of the third minute. Awesome guitar and synth solos in the fourth minute! Wow! Stunning peak! Lull and then everybody's back with Tomek singing before another wild though brief passage of synth and guitar solos. The section that follows is very pretty (guitar chord progression) and then we're into another Tomek-Mirek dual melody making before the final "tin whistle" synth solo before the Tomek-Mirek finish. Awesome, amazing, powerful song! Definitely my favorite on the album! (15/15)

6. "Stare ściezki (Same Old Paths)" (6:45) triangle and horn-synth open this one with a lush synth wash backdrop before Tomek enters around the 45 second mark. Drums and bass join in the middle of second minute and then Mirek Gil after the first verse with a different Pat Metheny-horn-like sound. Mirek and Tomek trade bursts of vocals and lead guitar, respectively, until a big switch in palette and pacing occurs at 2:30. From here the vocals are more constant while Mirek moves to more support with arpeggi and Jacek Korzeniowski's keyboards take over the role of adding bursts of synth riffs between phrases. At 3:52 the music moves back to the slightly slower base for an awesome instrumental passage with Mirek leading the way but bass and drums also embellishing a lot. At the end of the fifth minute Tomek returns in softer vocal style. In the sixth minute drums and bass drop out while synth wash, guitar arpeggi, and vocalese offer a very pretty soundscape which l=plays out to the end fadeout. Very nice song. (13/15)

7. "Fragmenty (Fragments)" (4:28) opens with strummed electric guitar before drums enter with flair and panache. Chunky bass, synth background, and wailing lead guitar then join in for a spell before alternating turns with Tomek's impassioned vocal. Mirek and Jacek really get to shine here, taking turns soloing between every moment of Tomek's singing. At 2:45 there is a prolonged bridge of power chords before Jacek switches keys and Mirek takes another turn at duelling melodic riffs before Tomek re-enters. The turn-taking continues through to the end. Powerful song on the line of "Heroes Cry" except with something lost because I don't know what Tomek is singing about due to my lack of translation of his Polish. Another favorite. (9/10)

8. "Rozmowa (Conversation)" (4:45) a song from their long-time stage play in which the drums and vocals play the most noteworthy roles though Mirek's captivating screaming guitar is strongly present throughout. I've had the privilege of hearing the band's 1986 studio recording of this song and I must say I like it very much: the delicate instrumental work in the middle (piano and electric guitar) is quite remarkable. Wish they'd stuck with piano, powerful drumming, and variety of guitar sounds. (8.75/10)

Total Time: 47:28

The album has such a polished feel to it despite its use of dated keyboards from the late 1980s; yo can tell the band had had a lot of time to rework and polish their repertoire to end up with such a mature-sounding sound and album. Still, after hearing some of the earlier versions of these songs I wish they had retained some of the styles and dynamics from their earlier days.

B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog rocker's album collection and a truly remarkable Neo Prog debut.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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