Poland has been climbing its way up the prog totem pole quite a bit these last two decades and listening to Osada Vida's new album its no wonder why. The music on offer here is a delight from start to finish, an exercise in fusing diverse prog influences with a modern and forward-thinking sensibility and sound. The result is nothing short of spectacular!
The band themselves acknowledge that the concept laid out for this, their fourth full-length release (their second in English), is a rather abstract one. Each song is simply named after a body part. These are then personalized in the lyrics, serving as a metaphor for certain characters. It all comes off very well and works a lot better than one might expect.
Unlike most 'retro' or 'true' prog bands of the day, Osada Vida do an extremely good job of not only disguising their influences well, but also synthesizing them in a truly fresh and interesting way. The only stamp I could repeatedly make out was that of Pink Floyd, mainly due to the laid-back, bluesy playing of guitarist Bartek Bereska. Touches of other, mostly modern-day bands pop up hear and there - but never come close enough to the originals to distract.
The overall atmosphere is moody, atmospherically dense, and occasionally dark. That being said, the opener (“Body”) is one of the catchiest, most upbeat prog tracks I have heard in a long while. In a perfect world, a song like this would top college radio charts everywhere. A spectacular example of prog songwriting at its very best.
While guitars and synths are dominant, each of the four players does an outstanding job of bringing his best to the music. The arrangements are dense but not cluttered and while there are plenty of sudden breaks and mood swings, these are always brilliantly linked and never seem forced. Osada Vida are experts at balancing heavy riffing a la Dream Theater with symphonic and sparsely arranged moments at a gentler pace. There are even touches of lounge jazz to be found - it all ads up to an impressive palette of styles that continues to surprise and entertain throughout the album. The finale (“Bone”) brings it to a wonderful conclusion.
The flow of the album is so well balanced and involving that it is hard to pick out particular highlights. Most of the songs feature plenty of hooks and interesting riffs and melodies to justify repeated headphone visits.
If I had to fault this album for anything, it would have to be the somewhat flat production - but that would truly be nitpicking.
Osada Vida have succeeded in conjuring up the improbable, almost impossible: A prog album that pays equal respect to the foundations of prog as well as its current manifold incarnations. The result is the prefect meeting place of instrumental prowess, rocking riffs and thoughtful composition.
This album will definitely make its way into the top five of this year's prog releases. A pure delight and a must for every prog fan - no matter where your sub-genre preferences might lie.
(All Album Reviews by avestin)
I’ve been anticipating this album since being highly excited with their previous one. Their music has a special quality to it; tame-sounding yet loose in its structure, free and creative. This album, like its predecessor boasts great catchy rhythms and tunes and wonderful playing. There’s definitely an improvement here in terms of sound and production; it seems to be clearer, richer and less vague. Moreover, the vocals seem to have a wider range of emotional expression than in the previous album.
The album presents an interesting concept of a party of the body parts, which can symbolize personalities or a typical human behavior. The opening song, “Body”, serves as the introduction of the “occasion” and the characters that participate. Already here I notice the shift from the rather dark sound of Three Seats behind A Triangle to this album. It is more straightforward in a way, heavier, more succinct and to the point (though still, the somewhat somber sound is still present). This is not to say that the complexity and intricacies are gone from the music, not at all. It is simply a change in the writing approach. The songs here seem to be more direct and get to the point quicker and are not continuous as it was in the previous album. Also a more bombastic sound is boasted here, more grandiose than their previous effort. However, continuing their style from before, there is big emphasis on creating a distinct mood.
Listen to the opening of “Liver” or the entire song “Spine” where the use of various synth sounds by Rafal backed by Bartek’s rhythm guitar propel the pace of these songs, add a magic touch to them and build up a special sounding entourage. This particular style was a major part of their previous release and is even better sounding here due to the efficient and clear production. In fact the keyboards are responsible for a lot of the mood build-up throughout the album and are crucial to the Osada Vida sound. The bass played by Lukasz is very good and noticeable in its use, providing a well-crafted basis to lie the melody and rest of the instruments upon. Adam on the drums provides highly energetic and exciting powerful rhythms as can be heard for example in the opening song.
The songs are varied as before, manifesting changing rhythms and showing clever arrangements, changing pace and feeling; thus showing, perhaps, the dynamics of the feelings of the personalities each organ portrays and emphasizing that they aren’t stagnant and rigid, but rather, evolving and reacting living matter. I was expecting that each organ would get a very specific melody/theme/tune or a distinct atmosphere or style of playing, but that’s not the case, though it doesn’t mean there is no “personality” to each song, just not as individual as I thought.
While this album is very appealing, I do think it’s not as attractive or as compelling as 3 Seats… It is definitely better sounding but not as captivating as the previous album. That being said, it is a well-done album, a wonderful heavy-prog/prog-metal experience, filled with lovely intricacies and beautiful melodic strokes. A definite recommendation for fans and newcomers alike.