Sny Aniolo Cover
Image © Wydawnictwo Rock-Serwis 1998

Album Review

© Russell W Elliot 1998

Last Updated: 09 December 1998

A very close American friend came across their first and self-titled Quidam album recently and gave it his strongest recommendation. He said that if we didn't like it, he'd gladly take it off our hands knowing that someone else would want it. A bit of research revealed a brand new second album and a limited edition EP. Our acquisition of both is a true testiment the band and our friend's recommendation.

From Poland and fronted by the lovely female lead vocalist Emila Derkowska singing exclusively in Polish, Quidam are an outstanding six person band that operate well within the progressive spectrum a broad range of modern sounds. They are firmly planted in art- or symphonic-progressive rock genre. The band obviously take the time to write thoughtfully complex music and properly produce it. With studio expenses these days, this is rare and a welcome accomplishment.

Not only is the music and it's production exquisite, but the album's artwork and overall packaging are absolutely first class. A full colour CD booklet including numerous professional individual and band photographs also contains all of the lyrics in Polish. We are informed that a reissue, sung in English, is due early in 1999.

Easily one of our best finds this year, Sny Aniolow received our four star (****) rating on the first playing and is worth a long distance journey. We are unaware of international release plans but have provided sources for the band's CDs at the conclusion of this review.

Perhaps before saying much about the new album, we should mention their limited edition EP. Featuring a track from their latest album, the EP is titled "Moje Anioly." The EP also contains two tracks recorded at Proglive '97 in Corbigny, France precisely one year ago. The tracks are: "Rhayader / Rhayader Goes To Town" (running a remarkable 10:59!) which makes an appearance here for the first time and "Bajkowy" which has been included in the band's self-titled ablum in studio form. The EP provides us a glimmer into what a live Quidam gig would be like. Ewa Smarzynska returns on flute for the live tracks. She is also fully credited on the Quidam album but has been omitted from the new album.

Sny Aniolow opens with ambient sounds of nature and a powerful flute part. The album continues with an array of eight further tracks with times ranging from just over 4:00 to the epic 13:57-long "Pod Powieka." In the buildup to the epic, progressive tracks span the range of the genre with upbeat flute-based almost Tull-like instrumentals, very strong keyboard-based sounds like mid-classic Yes and fusion-oriented material given a late 1990s production quality. Emila's vocals perfectly compliment the range of styles in the various songs whether they be upbeat almost pop-sounding Eurovision numbers, soft ballads, or progressive rocking tunes.

"Wesola" may be one of the most remarkable symphonic tracks we've heard in recent days. The introduction to the song is incredibly reminiscent of the Wind soundtrack but the song quickly builds in its own right to amazing proportion with woodwind, electric guitar solo, flute solo, keyboards, percussion and vocal parts (including "scat") all showing their distinct features but working equally when integrated together into an overall sound. The song is easily my favourite from this album.

A tremendous vocal part joins flute, acoustic guitar and piano on a perfectly balanced ballad entitled "Beznogi Maly Ptak." It's here that Emila's range and power can be most perfectly sampled. Again the vocals are well on top of the instrumentals and one does not have to meddle with the graphic equalizer to bring the vocals forwards. A brief guitar solo shows off another band member's talents before the flute takes over to softly conclude the song.

"Pod Poweieka" is a song with several distinct movements, not unlike Renaissance's "Ashes Are Burning," giving each artist their chance to let their talent shine through. This is the finest track of the album and most illustrative of the band's tremendous talent.

A wonderfully soft piano-acompanied ballad, sung by Emila Derkowska, entitled "Przebudzenie (Swit Nadziei)" follows the epic perfectly illustrating the band's ability to cover the spectrum of the progressive genre.

The final track includes a tremendous vocal solo perfectly suited to Emila's amazing talents. When the instrumentals come in to conclude the song, it's evident that Quidam have the ability to be among the best progressive bands performing today.

Very clearly a modern progressive album, the sound is lighter and more melodic than many bands in the genre exhibit. That's not to say they can't get into it and mix it up and push their instruments to the edge because they certainly can. Extensive flute and strings compliment synthesizer and guitar parts and underpin the marvelous vocals. Songs grow in power as the track counter increases in number but the band's symphonic sound remains.

Emila's vocals can be deep as easily as they can be high, strong or light. Her range and power are both outstanding and perfectly suited to the style of music Quidam play. Unlike some of the artists we've reviewed recently that can be compared to others with varying degrees of difficulty, Quidam have a most unique sound that can not be simply compared to any one or even set of other bands or artists.

Quidam - The Band
Quidam - The Band
Image © Wydawnictwo Rock-Serwis 1998

We've not found an extensive array of of internet-based resources for the band yet, but you can click here to check out their distributor's website. Their distributor can also be contacted via snail mail:

Wydawnictwo Rock-Serwis
al. W. Beliny-Prazmowskiego 28
31-514 Krakow
Tel/Fax: +48 (012) 411 59 84

American progressive CD dealer Greg Walker (click here for e-mail) carries Quidam's albums. You may acquire Quidam's CDs via Malcolm Parker (e-mail) at GFT in the UK. Finally, Cranium Music (e-mail) in New Zealand has informed us that they carry Quidam's albums. Here's how to reach these dealers.

Greg Walker
PO Box 2034
La Habra, CA 90632
Tel/Fax: (714) 894-9506

33a Tolworth Park Road
Tolworth, Surrey KT6 7RL
Tel: +44 (0) 181 339 9965
Fax: +44 (0) 181 399 0070

Cranium Music
PO Box 103-09
Te Rapa, Hamilton
New Zealand
Tel: +64 7 8299 840
Fax: +64 7 8299 980

As one of our best finds during the last twelve months we can recommend this album unequivocally to anyone that likes symphonic progressive music. If you don't understand Polish and are not accustomed to listening to vocal music where you don't understand the words, this album might take a bit of getting used to.

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