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SBB - Nowy Horyzont CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.86 | 176 ratings

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4 stars SBB - Nowy Horyzont (1975)

For me, 2010 was all about these two bands I discovered and learnt to like; Magma and SBB. When I found myself able to gather the vinyls of the most important albums of Polish symphonic/space/fusion act SBB it took me some time to get into them all. The studio debut, Nowy Horyzont, is actually the last album of my list that I started listening to, mainly due the small disappointment after the first quick spin, the recording quality isn't too perfect. Halve a year later and equipped with a new receiver I had my re-entry into the atmospheric and distinctive world of SBB - and how pleasant a surprise it was.

The members of SBB became famous in Poland as a the band of composer/singer/keyboardist Cheslaw Niemen, the own David Bowie of the Polish people. However, Niemen had focussed his efforts towards the progressive genre in his early seventies releases and the members of what would soon become SBB grew a lot in this period. In '74 the debut 'SBB live' was released and the quickly got the possibility to get a recording in the studio.

Nowy Horyzont became the first impressive, progressive record of SBB. Whilst in most tracks traces of Mahavishnu Orchestra (respectfully mentioned on the story that comes along with the record) can be found, SBB seems also to have been influenced by the spacey land-scapes of early Floyd and the rough progression of King Crimson. Combining the technicality of Mahavishnu with the atmospheres of Floyd, the heaviness/seriousness of King Crimson and a new layer of harmonic inventiveness and an abstract/mysterious sound the band manages to create a unique record. As if this wasn't enough, the album also has a political layer with titles like 'Curtain Raiser', 'Freedom with US' and 'New Horizon' referring to the Iron Curtain. The music is instrumental most of the time and the musicianship is great.

Side one has the boogy prog opener 'Curtain Raiser' which has very strong musicianship, clear Mahavishnu influences, but way more daring harmonic interplay. The sound of this opening track is a bit disappointing, the bass is to loud and there isn't enough depth in the recording. Still a very strong composition that's worthwhile. 'A Flash' and 'Nowy Horyzont' have a better sound and continue the daring harmonic and rough experimentation of the opening track. 'A Ballade about the Five Hungry Ones' is a Polish poem with spacey/psychedelic back-ground noises.

Side two. On the 20 minutes instrumental 'Freedom With Us' the band explores the word 'Freedom' very effective. It is this track that shows the full potential of the interplay of Skrzek, Apostolis and Piotrowski. With long spacey parts, a bit of avant-garde, a bit of rough improvisation, some nice piano composition and a bombastic metal-Crimson like industrial section this is clearly one of the most daring tracks of SBB. Mahavishnu influences are gone and make place for the typical SBB genius that would be so succesful on follow-up PamieÁ. I would like to mention the great solo's in the middle section with only drums as background and guitar and keyboard giving intensive, daring solo's. Luckily the sound of side two is bit better then that of side one.

Conclusion. SBB proves to be a very energetic and innovative force on their studio-debut. The melodies are daring and probably a good challenge for experienced listeners of the progressive genre. A good eclectic progressive record that might be a bit challenging for those who find the heavier works of King Crimson and Mahavishnu hard to bare. Very rewarding for those who do enjoy it. With the imperfect recording as only complaint, I'm confident in giving this record the four star rating. SBB fans: don't miss out on Freedom With Us! Perhaps one of their greatest achievements.

friso | 4/5 |


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