One of the characteristics that sets progressive rock aficionados apart from the rest is that we know the 'language' of music is universal and you don't have to be a multi-linguist to understand foreign music. But it sure would help if you knew Polish to understand this one. The lyrics and the CD cover are all in polish, and your appreciation of Gargantua's self-titled debut album is restricted to what comes through your speakers. There is no extra dimension of clever lyrics or understanding of theme or concept. Ars Mundi may want to address that if they want Gargantua to be more easily accepted and understood by American audiences. We like foreign language music, but we'd certainly like to know a bit more about it.
Notwithstanding the language barrier, if you are a symphonic, art rock or fusion fan, there's plenty to appreciate here. Gargantua's sound is rooted in prominent bass, spacey keys and a jazzy guitar. The vocals are not the band's biggest strength, but they're applied sparingly between extended instrumental passages. This challenging music is often dissonant in a quirky Crimson-esque way. It is seldom melodic, it is never approachable, and it always makes you think.
Look for a slightly old-fashioned approach to progressive fusion, an old-fashioned standard of production, and a refreshingly avant garde damn-the-conventions attitude. There's a soft-jazzy percussion, rhythm guitar that tends towards funk, a '70s approach to composition, varied instrumentation, and an upbeat yet relaxed sound that would – in parts – be well suited to the elevator that whisks you up to your beach-view room in Cancun.
The closing track, Azur, may be the standout track. Experimental atonal vocals over jazzy percussion and barroom piano, interlaced with an avant-oriented staccato keyboard sound and some interesting amp-effects.
This band has some nice ideas about who they are and where they want to go – and you won't find their destination on a label above any pigeon-hole. Their target market will be limited, though, and to expand their audience they may want to address the language thing, commission a cover-artist, and upgrade their vocals and production standards. It is still a unique and highly commendable first outing.
1. Obilas mi sie (4:31)
2. Slowolnosc (6:43)
3. Szla-dzie (9:13)
4. Fumator kulbaczny (4:36)
5. Wrzesien przysnien (6:41)
6. Tarczowali dzisiaj las (4:00)
7. Azur (7:05)