Whether Quidam takes its name from a Latin word meaning "someone" or the title of a poem written by a Polish poet from the romantic period is unknown. What we know about the band, however, is that they've returned after a rather long silence, with new members. First of all, successful female vocalist Emila Derkowska has left the band, along with the band's tight rhythm duo who wanted to concentrate on their own band Menski. The search for new members wasn't an easy task, especially finding an equally impressive replacement for Emila. However, the addition of new singer Bartek Kossowicz, bassist Mariusz Ziolkowski, and drummer Maciek Wroblewski has injected new life into Quidam. They have "survived" and "revived", and SurREvival is their new album.
The new singer is certainly integral to this album's success. Besides doing the vocals, he has also written all lyrics except one song, and his English is excellent. His voice is clean and smooth, with no Polish accent whatsoever, and he sings with tremendous emotion and conviction. The band's driving forces, Zbyszek Florek on keyboards and Maciek Meller on guitars, have chosen to go in a very Porcupine Tree style of progressive rock, mostly noticed in the way the vocal harmonies were arranged and Meller's rhythm guitar work merged into their compositions. There is a very heavy In Absentia influence in the way he balance his riffs with acoustic guitars. Florek's keyboard lines are expressive and experimental. He throws in various sound samples, including jazz, electronic and ambient. I am quite impressed by the bass. It is produced perfectly and has a very full sound to it. Wroblewski's drumming is very subtle, emphasising distant cymbal rhythms and exquisite percussion. Special mention goes to Jacek Zasada, the flutist, whose unique style gives Quidam extra originality. His work is very adventurous, at times evoking King Crimson meets Jethro Tull or even Peter Gabriel themes.
The album begins with an ambient intro filled with footsteps, conjuring up images of someone walking in a smoky corridor, fiddling with a set of keys in front of his door, unlocking it, only to rush to the window to be exposed to a sunny day with birds singing. This is all backed up with tons of sound samples generated by keyboards and it swiftly segues into "Hands Off", easily my personal favourite track. The riff at the very beginning is right up there with Steven Wilson's extraordinarily beautiful work on In Absentia, very heavy and relentless. The song is immediately reduced to a minimalist nature, as acoustic guitars go into the main body of the track, backed by a liberal bass line, heavy Moog keyboards, and terrific vocals. Pushing almost 10 minutes, this may also be one of the heaviest songs in the Quidam discography. The following pieces are more on the slower, somewhat psychedelic spectrum, bringing forth soaring vocal harmonies and innovative rhythm beats. The intro of "Not So Close" is so evocative of Steven Wilson it's interesting how heavily this Polish band has been influenced by him. Great flute melodies meet arpeggiated acoustic guitars on "The Fifth Season", with the second flute solo being highly reminiscent of Ian Anderson. "Queen of Moulin Rouge" stands out for its interesting arrangement, allowing the bass guitar to take the lead of a long-streched instrumental passage packed with intense guitar and keyboard interplay. The longest track "Everything's Ended" embodies traces of Sylvan, Porcupine Tree and newer Marillion, perfected with dense guitar solos, jazzy interludes, Floydian psychedelia, before it reaches its last two minutes that feature a common theme and end exactly as the album had started. Birds sing, ambient keyboard samples return, and then we hear the footsteps which seem to slowly walk out of the room.
This is an excellent release. The production is amazing, as are the packaging of the CD, the booklet, the lyrics, and the songmanship. I can hardly wait for their next album.
- Airing (2:25)
- Hands Off (9:25)
- Not So Close (6:22)
- The Fifth Season (9:45)
- SurREvival (5:13)
- Queen of Moulin Rouge (8:24)
- Everything's Ended (13:14)