Polish band Believe and their management claim that their music has widespread appeal to fans of more name-resonant bands such as Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and fellow countrymen Riverside. This might seem like a cheap publicity stunt to get punters on board but, on the strength of Yesterday is a Friend, their second album, it would seem that it's a claim that is not so easily dismissed. Soundscape wise, the nearest they come to those three bands, is to Riverside: just occasionally, when Mirek Gil is flying on his lead guitar, there are distinct echoes of that fine band. However, the attraction for the fans of these classic bands will come not necessarily because Believe's soundscape is similar to them, but because of the adventure and musical inventiveness that they show throughout the album.
This was a progressive rock album that made me smile. It has wonderful aural textures and lyrics that are not dark in any way, like in a lot of progressive work; the songs dealing with issues of life and love. It's a topic matter that suits the nature of the music well, in particular the incorporation of Satomi's violin, which is often played with wonderful romantic sensitivity. Within the context of this rock band Satomi uses the instrument in a very different way - more sensitive, more classical, without losing the ability to rock - to previous exponents that I've heard such as Graham Smith (String Driven Thing, Van der Graaf Generator) but the violin playing brings beautiful color to the music.
So too does Adam Milosz's keyboards playing, whether it be a melodic line or more general "symphonic" orchestration. Adam is listed as a guest, rather than as a full band member - a pity, since his contribution is a significant one.
Another pleasure that I took from Yesterday Is a Friend's soundscape was the way that the acoustic guitar (played by vocalist Tomek Rozycki) featured prominently: its use complemented Mirek's electric guitar playing wonderfully.
Rhythmically, too, the band are first class, incorporating different styles within the music (some from traditional Polish folk origin perhaps). The pace is generally slow to medium tempo, never really getting as fast as the heavier progressive bands, perhaps because of the concept of the music, but I did wish at times that they had let it rip a bit more - I got the sense that this band could really blow you away if they chose to. I'm going to check out 2006's Hope to See Another Day to see if they got heavier on that: I'm sure it will be a fine album whatever, because they come up with such impressive soundscapes.
Good songs: nothing too complex but enough structural complexity to keep people interested."Time", "You & Me" and "Memories" are amongst the highlights but, from the moment, my favorite has to be "Tumor", as some of the music on that just makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!
So, it's definitely not just a publicity stunt to compare Believe to the exalted Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Riverside. If you enjoy those, and similar bands' music then it may well pay you to give Yesterday is a Friend a spin. The CD also comes in a digipack edition with three bonus tracks which, unfortunately, I have not yet heard.
1) Time (06:20)
2) Tumor (06:05)
3) What They Want (Is My Life) (08:03)
4) Mystery is Closer (06:02)
5) You & Me (04:52)
6) Danny Had a Neighbour (05:17)
7) Memories (07:22)
8) Unfaithful (06:15)
9) Together (02:35)