(10 July 2011) Travellers, a progressive rock band from Poland, began in 2010 and was founded by Wojtek Szadkowski (Collage, Satellite, Peter Pan, Strawberry Fields). For Travellers, Szadkowski joined with several of his former colleagues including the magical Robin (Marta Kniewska), who as with Strawberry Fields, is their beautiful female lead singer. A major element of the Travellers sound, she sings primarily in a higher register than her Strawberry Fields recordings.
Travellers debut album is a stunning six-track collection entitled A Journey Into The Sun Within (Metal Mind Productions (Poland) MMP CD 0687 DG, 2011). While the entire album is clearly planted in progressive rock territory, two of the extended tracks run over eleven minutes firmly underscoring the point. Robin (vocals, lyrics) and Wojtek Szadkowski (keyboards, percussion, lyrics) are joined by Grzegorz "sencha atta" Leczkowski (guitars) and Krzysiek Palczewski (bass). Three of the band's members also serve in Strawberry Fields whose DVD is due later this summer. Read our exclusive interview with her.
From the opening passage of "Magic," listeners will hear the significant departure of the core artists from Strawberry Fields project. The keyboard arrangements are more delicate and played with significant precision. Bass lines are pronounced, very much in the style of Chris Squire (Yes), Dan Fry (Magenta) and Jon Camp (Renaissance). Robin's solo crystalline vocal passages are sung in high soprano. Vast electric guitar passages add depth and color to the music and at times are even reminscent of a Cirque du Soleil soundtrack. Tempo and style changes within the track are wonderfully constructed and delivered. Enthusiasts of Magenta and Renaissance will be overwhelmed with the introduction to Travellers provided in the opening track. And female vocalist affectionados will fall in love with Robin's stunning voice.
"Letters To God" is equally progressive but more orchestral, primarily from the keyboard passages. A gentler track overall, the power of Robin's voice is evident in her performance sung atop the rich synthesizer and gentle rhythm section. Listen for the harmony layers that back her vocals in this song. The shortest number on the album is the five minute "Dreaming." Dense electronic guitar provides a foundation and melody for Robin's very whispy vocal part sung more in her Strawberry Fields range. Harmony layers also grace the chorus. Instrumental breaks feature keyboard passages that echo the vocal melody.
Robin provides the driving force behind "I Dream Softly" with a haunting vocal introduction that is quickly dominated by rich progressive arrangements, thick harmonies and musical density. Contrast within the song between the quieter instrumental breaks and tenderly sung verses and the more powerful chorus are delightful and perfectly illustrate the strength of progressive rock music. Instrumental breaks are also a testament to the individual strengths of the players.
Electric guitar, warm keyboard washes and crisp production introduce the album's penultimate track "I See The Light," however it is the opening electronic guitar solo that creates the song's first melody before Robin's crystalline vocals join the mix. Listen for the extremely well produced gentle vocal harmonies that initially support her lead. It is an eight minute progressive rock number with a tremendous hook from very dense vocal harmonies in the chorus. The electric guitar solos (a la Chris Fry from Magenta) in the track are almost as stunning as Robin's voice.
Travellers debut album concludes with the band's epic and standout track "The Sun." The track shows Travellers artists at their individual and combined best. Fronted by Robin in solo voice, the artists contribute rhythmic percussion and soaring electric guitar solos. Warm and powerful choruses bring the band into full splendor and draw the audience further into the sound. Instrumental breaks are perfectly integrated into this epic but --even when extended--never over run their welcome by being dotted between the lovely vocal passages. This must be a tremendous track to see the band perform live.Travellers' A Journey Into The Sun Within is the best progressive album we have heard during first half of 2011 and the band would win our best new band award if we had one. Listen to this stunning album today.