Unlike some colleagues I find reviewing an album that only contains German lyrics no problem at all. In the past I have reviewed albums recorded by Traumhaus, Traumpfad, Grobschnitt and Anyone's Daughter. I really enjoyed these albums despite the use of German lyrics. So I welcomed the second album by a rather unknown band from East Germany called Polis. In 2011 they recorded their first album simply titled Eins, meaning 'one'; now they present their successor Sein, meaning 'to be, being or exist', which is an anagram of the previous title.
Although I'm not familiar with the band's debut, I kept wondering whether the strong rhythm section − consisting of Andreas Sittig (bass) and Sascha Bormann (drums) − also appeared on their first effort. Did keyboard player Marius Leicht use a grand piano and a Hammond organ on Eins as well? I also asked myself whether the excellent guitarist Christoph Kästner plays the same kind of strong passages that sometimes sound like David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) on the debut album. Could it be possible that Christian Roscher's voice is just as good on Eins as on Sein? Sometimes he sings gently and sensitive; at other times he sounds very expressive and loud slightly reminding me of someone like Herbert Grönemeyer. Well, I can only answer these questions when I receive Eins in my mailbox someday...
However, for now I have to focus on the band's second record Sein that starts with part 1 of the title track and finally ends with part 2. In between you can enjoy a lot of beautiful tracks. To characterize the eight compositions on Sein I could make it easy on myself by mentioning a number of well-known acts from the prog rock scene, but that would be too simple because Polis clearly have a sound of their own, that is: a typical German sound. They much more approach the style of the good old krautrock bands from the seventies rather than the British prog dinosaurs. The challenging arrangements together with the extremely beautiful lyrics and the eye for detail bring Polis more in the direction of great German rock bands like Novalis and Anyone's Daughter. Just like these bands Polis know how to combine outstanding instrumental parts with strong German lyrics. They also use great classical orientated piano parts, but they also dare to sound aggressive when it's needed. Listen for example to Blumenkraft which contains many heavy guitar parts. These parts provide for a more modern sound compared to the aforementioned bands.
People who like aesthetic sounds in progressive rock combined with poetic lyrics should check out Sein recorded by Polis. And please, don't be put off by the vocal parts sung in the German language! For me this album was a nice listening experience that brought me back in time in a world where music made by krautrock bands was very common in the prog rock scene.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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