I don't know about you, but for me if the length of an album is pushing the limits of CD technology (80 minutes), then it is going to have to be something pretty special to hold my attention. Running at 78 and a half minutes, this self titled release from Polish veteran progressive rock act SBB presents just that challenge. Passing, with not quite flying colours, but nonetheless with distinction. Four decades after this ever evolving outfit released their first album, SBB now find themselves as basically a duo of lynch-pin Jozef Skrzek, whose skills cover bass, piano, organ, micro-moog, mini-moog and vocals and new drumming guitarist Apostolis "Lakis" Anthimos. The second release by the veterans to use their band name as its title (the first being released in 1974), SBB 2012 style, finds the outfit sitting somewhere between progressive rock, fusion and ambient, with swathes of relaxed and relaxing keyboard sounds being the basis from which an album without lyrics somehow manages to feel very much like it is telling a story. There are vocals, but these take the shape of atmospheric noises which work gloriously well alongside Floydian bursts of guitar, pounding electric piano and deep, dense keyboard excursions.
The majority of the songs run into each other, leaving no clue (other than checking the counter on the CD player of course) where one begins and the other ends, with motifs revisited as the album grows from its start towards its conclusion. Possibly this is where the almost conceptual feel comes from, but the amount of pure emotion that pours out of the speakers as the songs mature also creates an extremely personal feeling. In fact for music that is at times almost abstract in its construction, there's a surprisingly personal feel to what SBB recounts and if you invest your full concentration in it, your reward will be to become completely immersed in what is going on.
Highlighting individual tracks on an album where the whole is undoubtedly greater than its parts feels almost futile, however I do have to admit that even though this is a selection of music capable of captivating from start to finish, I do find myself paying even greater attention when the resonating keyboard tones of "Lot nad Chicago" and the Satriani like guitar chimes of "Zaufani" slide into earshot.
I can't say that I've heard a huge amount of SBB's previous work, and what I have heard I've struggled to connect with. However almost immediately the charm and emotion of SBB the album, become apparent. With repeated listens only confirming those initial feelings.
4. Bunkry wiede?skie
5. Zw?tpienie Lakisa
7. Urodziny w Roskilde
10. Nowy Wiek
11. Lot nad Chicago
Added: July 21st 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: SBB Online
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