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Jozef Skrzek East Wind: Koncert Zywiolow

Possibly better known as a member of influential Polish progressive rock band SBB this is Jozef Skrzek's second album with his project East Wind. As its title suggests Koncert Zywiolow is a live recording of the band in Skrzek's homeland.

With a line up consisting of Skrzek himself on keyboards along with Michail Ogorodov also on keyboards, dual drummers Michal Giercuszkiewicz and Aleksandr Ragazanov as well as Beata Mankowska on vocals, this is a challenging album that sometimes insists you join it on a rewarding, eclectic voyage of discovery and at other moments leaves you baffled and confused as to what exactly is going on.

With a sound obviously entirely based round the noises produced by Skrzek and Ogorodov's multitude of keyboards and effects the overall feel is of a mixture of Klaus Schulze, Jean Michel Jarre and those odd albums released in the 1970's purely to amaze, excite and baffle as to how contraptions such as the moog actually worked. Being completely honest the general emotion you are left with also resembles that which those albums also left you with, you never quite know whether to be astounded at what you are surrounded by or to fall about laughing.

When it works, as it does on "Thousands Of Planets" you get huge atmospheric soundscapes that transport you to a different plane, however when it crashes and burns as segments of "Freedom" do then you are left in total bemusement as to why the crowd are going wild at the tracks conclusion.

On the night captured three tracks were completely improvised, "The Earth", "The Fire" and "The Water". It's an undertaking to be admired as much of what is played is quite engaging, however when all three tracks run back to back and reach over 27 minutes in length, it has to be said that it can all become too much, especially when you consider that much of the final track of the three is a drum solo/duet between the two stick-smiths.

Vocalist Beata Mankowska has an excellent if wholly under used voice; in fact she only features on two tracks and even then sparingly. It is a shame as both keyboard players offer their own vocals over their sometimes restrained, sometimes cacophonous offerings and neither have a voice that adds much to the music and if truth be told at times their efforts leave much to be desired.

In contrast with the likes of Schulze or Jarre, Skrzek never heads of into the airy atmospheric ether, nor does he ever find a hypnotic faux disco groove and twiddle until his heart is content over it. Rather the music has jazz fusion indulgence often followed by what sounds like both key players tripping on a wire and spending the next five minutes freeing themselves from their equipment at full volume.

There is much to admire and enjoy here, however the fact that the shortest track on the album is nearer to eight minutes in length than seven illustrates that more often than not the art of self restraint could have and most definitely would have been advisable.

Track list:
1. Tysiące planet... (Powietrze) / Thousands of planets... (The Air) 12:19
2. Freedom 8:31
3. Toczy się koło historii / The wheels of history are rolling on 12:08
4. Ziemia / The Earth 8:54
5. Ogień / The Fire 10:39
6. Woda / The Water 7:44
7. Pieśń o słońcu niewyczerpanym / The song about an unexhausted sun 7:48
8. Za darmo nie ma nic / Nothing for free 11:38

Added: September 16th 2009
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 1665
Language: english

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