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Quidam: Alone Together

Read the track titles sequentially out loud and you won't be surprised to find this is a concept album about common bonds overcoming apparent but less important differences in relationships. This is Quidam's second album with Bartek Kossowicz replacing Emila on vocals. All the usual features you associate with Quidam are here, the uplifting guitar solos, the rich keyboard textures, the delicate acoustic interludes and that wonderful ever present flute. There's even a bamboo flute and zither on the second track. The album opens with a melancholic, breathy, flute and piano-backed ballad which opens out nicely into a slow paced Floydian guitar solo. Unlike their early albums and the one attempt at doing two versions, the band have now settled on delivering nearly all the vocals in well-spoken English. The lyric writing is competent but it is the arrangements the band puts around them that makes Quidam such a joy to listen to.

The second track is indicative of this with its melodic guitar introduction and brief vocal section which leads into a moving atmospheric section with female backing vocals and lyrical guitar hovering and swooping down over the Hammond and Piano chords. Track 3 is a more sober affair to start with, a solo flute over a bass figure leading into the softly spoken lyrics. I'm reminded very much of Satellite at this point of this lengthy song, especially the use of electronic percussion and the way the song builds gently. Flute and guitar work together and the vocals become stronger as the song reaches its allegro stage. Hammond backing and piano overlays provide the base for the soaring guitar which climaxes and drops back to the breathy vocal style which introduced the track. Another rise in tempo with a bluesy electric guitar leading to a rising epiphany, fall back and close out.

"They are there to remind us" and "Of illusions" moves us into neo-progressive territory with shades of Marillion, Arena or Pendragon. This most aggressive phase makes a good fulcrum for the album as it returns to the more subtle colours of the first tracks in "We lost", a spacious, airy mix of guitar and keyboards with an ethereal flute drifting around among the lamenting vocals. I'm reminded again very much of Satellite or Collage here with polished (no pun intended) singing from Bartek and crisp clean extended guitar licks raising the tempo at the end and finding room for a sax to rough things up a bit. "One day we find" packs a lot of changes in pace into its mainly instrumental content whilst the title track of the main work is a tender acoustically accompanied ballad. The codicil to the album sees the band rock out somewhat with the chance for the drummer to really hit the damn things.

A well crafted album which will undoubtedly appeal to all lovers of melodic symphonic prog.

Track Listing
1. Different
2. Kinds of Solitude at night
3. Depicting the colours of emotions
4. They are there to remind us
5. Of Illusions
6. We lost
7. One day we find
8. We are alone together
9. PS But strong together

Added: June 1st 2008
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: Quidam Website
Hits: 4894
Language: english

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Quidam: Alone Together
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-06-01 04:43:51
My Score:

The song titles of Alone Together ingeniously form one sentence: Different kinds of solitude at night depicting colours of emotions... they are there to remind us of illusions we lost... one day we find we are alone together.

Yes, Alone Together, Quidam's second album with vocalist Bartek Kossowicz, is a concept album examining the inner turmoils and estrangement of the individual. Musically speaking, it strays significantly from their previous work in that it avoids the Porcupine Tree references that heavily permeated SurREvival. Rather, the band opt for a more symphonic prog rock vibe, which is achieved through a blend of great acoustic guitars, warm synth tones, emotive vocals, and the inclusion of flutes among other instruments. While the contrast of light and dark is still expanded on, they have chosen to apply this to a more song-based format this time, rather than displaying it in the same compositions.

"Different" sets the mood of the CD with a beautiful piano melody complemented by a gorgeous flute arrangement and acoustic guitars. It deftly segues into the neo-proggy "Kinds of Solitude at Night", driven by a multitude of elements: lush synths lending themselves to more modern soundscapes, Gilmour-like guitars, female backing harmonies courtesy of Emila Nazaruk, and a great vocal melody. The song also benefits from zither sounds before Maciek Meller lays down an emotional guitar solo that builds up to a wonderful melody at the end.

The epic-scaled "Depicting Colours of Emotions" not only breaks the ten-minute mark but also cements the fact that Quidam have now returned to the more symphonic rock sound that characterized their earlier body of work. While a distinct neo-prog influence pervades the composition, the band also utilizes plenty of jazz-inflected bass figures and folky flute work. Quite simplistic at face value, the whole song is carried by Kossowicz' vocal melody, but the addition of electronic beats and Hammond organ take the song on a different level. As is the case with several songs on this disc, the track concludes with a searing lead solo which is amazing.

The uplifting "They Are There to Remind Us" is littered with rich synths beneath the propulsive guitar work, but there is still a great instrumental break that lays the foundation for a strong blend of bass, piano, and flute soloing. The addictive guitar melody of "Of Illusions" recalls Collage, perhaps Poland's greatest neo-prog band. With its wild percussion, eastern soundscapes, and tribal rhythms it does lend itself to Quidam's Camel influence as well, though.

On the vocal-based "We Lost", complete with a shift from sombre acoustic intro to a rousing melodic avenue; and the slightly bluesy "One Day We Find", Mariusz Ziolkowski's bass commands your attention. Ziolkowski is the primary reason why Quidam's recent material is such a success. His bass drives most, if not all, compositions without getting too show-offy. Actually on most tunes he comfortably stays behind the guitars and keys, but one can't help but realize how vital his contribution to the whole song is.

"We Are Alone Together" is definitely the darkest and moodiest song Quidam have penned. It moves at a glacial pace, but Kossowicz' vocals convey such a whole range of emotions that the listener is hypnotised during its eight minutes. He sings, murmers, whispers and does everything in between. The percussion is amazing and adds to the atmosphere, especially at the very end where all instruments cut out except for the stark drums.

Michal Florczak's artwork is amazing; at first sight it reminded me of Collage's Moonshine, but Florczak's work has his own character. The production is also perfect. Great stereo mixing, space, and transparancy. Highly recommended to the avid progressive rock fan.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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