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SBB: Blue Trance

For over 35 years, Polish trio SBB has been crafting their unique blend of blues, jazz, psychedelic and prog. With around a dozen successful studio albums already under their belt, their newest LP, Blue Trance, comes with a plethora of expectation. Unfortunately, while there are some cool moments and a few sparks of innovation, the album is mostly uninspired and even awkward at times.

The Silesian Blues Band formed in 1971 and abbreviated their name in 1974. As the group discovered acts like Soft Machine, Thin Lizzy, Canned Heat, and especially Mahavishnu Orchestra, they gradually incorporated different styles into their sound, varying aspects like tone, complexity and dynamics with ease. They certainly don't stick to one sound throughout Blue Trance, which results in some brilliant moments as well as some boring and baffling ones.

SBB opens the album with a fantastically ominous and intense instrumental, "Etiuda Trance." Its apocalyptic rhythms, riffs and timbres of synthesizers, organ and drums create quite a distinctive mood, invoking the spirit of Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King." It's simple yet awesome. The jazz/pop "Los Człowieka" follows, casually flowing along with a catchy chorus until its masterful guitar solo at the end. The vocals are in polish, but it doesn't take away too much enjoyment.

"Doliny Strumieni" has a subdued holiday quality to the piano accompaniment, while, in contrast, "Karida Beach" rocks pretty hard. The title track has a classic rock nature to it as the band lets loose and has fun. Vocalist Józef Skrzek chants "Blue Trance" over and over again as it fades out. Another instrumental (and highlight) comes with "Muśnięcie Kalimby," which features some interesting percussion and affective keyboard improvisation. "Coda Trance" concludes the album by recalling the foreboding presence of overpowering organ chords and quick playing. It gives Blue Trance a nice sense of closure and cohesion.

Two cringe-worthy misses are "Red Joe" and "Święto Dioni." The former is a clunky blues track inspired by Hendrix's classic "Hey Joe." It's essentially the band jamming a bit while Skrzek spouts random phrases about Red Joe. It sounds unintentionally goofy. As for the latter, it's an utterly pointless way to spend three minutes. Skrzek continuously says "hey, hey, hey" over repetitive piano and drums that eventually evolve into some fancy synth and guitar counterpoint. It's the perfect example of what "B sides" are for.

Blue Trance is basically an album of blues/jazz/prog jams with barely any serious songwriting. The language barrier is not the problem; if there were any good songs on here, the melodies would appeal and the emotions would seep through regardless. SBB prove that they can compose and play, but even the musical aspect gets repetitive very quickly. Still, taking in small doses, it's enough to intrigue, but after producing music for forty years, their ideas have certainly begun to run out.

Track Listing
1. Etiuda Trance
2. Los Człowieka
3. Red Joe
4. Święto Dioni
5. Szczęście Jak Na Dłoni
6. Doliny Strumieni
7. Karida Beach
8. Blue Trance
9. Muśnięcie Kalimby
10. Pamięci Czas
11. Coda Trance

Added: January 17th 2011
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1383
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

SBB: Blue Trance
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-01-17 06:30:13
My Score:

From the opening drums to the end of this album you are in for one interesting adventure. This is good music, well designed and performed.

The opening instrumental will make you think you are riding on that Trans Siberian Express. It is both powerful and full of wonder. Great keyboard and drum work. Easily one of the best songs on the album and a great way to kick things off. If the entire album had been this good it would have received higher ratings.

Although the rest of the album is good, not knowing Polish may hold you back from appreciating the entire story. The melodies and rhythms are great though and the music is universally good.

There is an interesting video on You Tube which supports the song Los Czeowieka with a cute girl in it.

Red Joe seems to be a takeoff on Hey Joe from Jimi Hendrix.

Much of the rest of the album is good easy listening jazz, which is perfect for any time of day.

Szczescie Jak Na Deoni is another interesting piece with a Court of the Crimson King - like opening mixed with jazz and pop.

The title track, Blue Trance, is a rocker with great lead electrics and those well placed drums.

Musniecie Kalimby is a great Spyro Gyra type of oceanside adventure.

The piano on Pamieci Czas is excellent.

Coda Trance closes things with some dark, foreboding instrumental keys, drums, and guitars. There is a live video performance of this song available on You Tube.

Good music, but to appreciate the full story you need an English translation

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