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Lebowski - Cinematic CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.04 | 198 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Simple, effective, beautiful and emotional: the art of Polish progressive rock

Poland is quite a mystifying place when comes to progressive rock. Since back when the country was under the oppressive Soviet veil and had all that official State paraphernalia to spy and diminish liberties and free thought, music flourished in communist Poland to the point of exporting acts to neighboring Czechoslovakia, where producing and playing such kind of music would grant you a considerably long stay in one of the country's most lovely places for socially inadequate behavior.

Music from that period of said Western Slavic country (considering mostly the major progressive acts such as Niemen, SBB and Mark Grechuta) aren't as energetic as the Western European counterparts, both from Continental Europe and the British Isles, but carried some emotional depth and beauty few could equal in the free world. They also managed to keep their music somewhat simpler than the main acts from our side of the Iron Fence.

With the communist regime's dismantlement during the late 1980's and early 1990's and with the influx of new influences, Poland found itself as being a hot spot for a genre of progressive rock that is met nearly with contempt by some today for arguably being stationed in the same place for the past 30 years: neo prog. Yes, if you don't know yet, neo prog (as well as the bands behind its sound, such as Pink Floyd) is pretty big there, so much that most Polish bands listed here (that are from after the wall went down, of course) ARE neo prog bands and even those that are not are deeply influenced by neo prog (just to mention some of the most well know of them, Riverside started only because some headbangers that played in death metal bands found out they both liked Marillion and Osada Vida has some obvious neo vibe to it). Like it or not, neo's deep emotional feelings, lush beauty and simplicity is all over Polish progressive rock.

So, what does any of this has to do with this fantastic act that I've been so kindly asked to review? Well, being Lebowski from that same Slavic country I've been talking about, it couldn't fall very far from where it came; the band does not play the mentioned genre of progressive rock that emerged during the 1980's, but as said before, its influence is stretched all over Poland. Lebowski, however, manged to stray away from cliches and well-know places in progressive rock and went for the higher road, with something else added: simplicity; indeed, they managed to put together an album that not only emotional and beautiful, but also were able to make it easy to listen and relate to, even for people outside progressive rock circles. They've managed to fulfill Shakespeare's saying brevity is the soul of wit, creating an opus that is both able to reach for progressive rock fans with its intricate musical build-up and outsiders with their simple, but effective approach to it, much like Mariusz Duda managed to do in his side project Lunatic Soul.

Another favorable point for them is the fact that there are no vocals in their album, something that, in my opinion, just accents their music even more. I also believe that there would be some difficulty in finding the right kind of voice, someone with the appropriate vocal abilities to fill in and fit their style. Another upside to the lack of vocals (even though there are some minor vocal lines in 137 sec.) is that Lebowski's music fits very well with their premise, which is create a soundtrack for a non- existent film, as well as an homage to Polish film and world-wide cinema (hence the album's title, Cinematic); such intentions are accentuated with a series of movie quotations / cuts that appear throughout the album, being most of them Polish movies since the chief intention is take a bow for Polish cinema in general, and there's even camera roll by the end of the album.

As for the instrumentalists and compositions themselves, I must say that I do like what I hear, a lot. First, because nothing here is unnecessary. As I mentioned before, Lebowski keeps it simple and effective, making every melody line and every instrument fit just right with each other. Second, even though most of the time the guitar or keyboards stay at the forefront of the band's sound, neither the bass or the drums get behind, they all merge together in the music, complementing whoever has the spotlight; and I mean spotlight here in a very broad way, because there is no real shining piece or mind blowing solos, just one instrument that is leading the melody. Third, all music evolves as a whole, everything has a meaning and a purpose.

Rating and Final Thoughts

Lebowski is, for me, one of those bands I would never be able to meet if it wasn't for the prog community and aggressively searching for new things to listen to. Their album, in spite of being excellent and being easily to relate to, unfortunately has no place in today's music business, as it happens with the majority of progressive rock bands. The fact that they sound original, thus can't be quite compared to anybody for that, don't help either. Even so, they fight on, creating great music.

Nonetheless, however great their debut opus might be, I feel that it doesn't quite reach the high level that I regard for masterful albums. That's no derogatory thing, though, Cinematic is impressive regardless of that. Indeed, I think it would appeal to all progressive rock fans I know as it has appealed to myself for their touching art rock. For that, I believe that this album's rating is four stars.

As a final note, I would like to thank Radek Ratomski for allowing me to know more about this impressive band and letting me have the privilege of reviewing their work. I am truly thankful for this.

CCVP | 4/5 |


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