Signal To Noise Ratio -
Work In Progress

(CD 2016, 55:13, Strange New Records)

The tracks:
  1- Zanim(3:37)
  2- Droga Za Widnokres(7:12)
  3- Körkarlen(5:58)
  4- Entropia(15:26)
  5- Duchy Elektryczności (remix)(4:11)
  6- Ludzie-muchomory(11:35)
  7- Odwodnienie, Omdlenie, Zaćmienie(7:14)

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Signal To Noise Ratio is a Polish group from the country's capital. It was founded by Marysia Białota (synthesizer, vocals), Łukasz Foretek (guitars), Przemek Piłaciński (guitars), Tomek Wilk (bass) and Adam 'Izaak' Wasążnik (drums) in 2003. That very year, they debuted with Demo I. A year later, this was followed by Demo II, recorded without Foretek who had left the band prior to the recording. Apparently, this release was received very well by various magazines and websites, but I must admit that I missed both of them.
Things looked good, but the band entered a turbulent phase and after numerous line-up changes they became a trio in 2006. The new line-up were the remaining core trio of Marysia 'Maria' Białota (analog synthesizers, combo organ and melodica), Przemek Piłaciński (guitars, vocals, harmonica, percussion, programming, electronic manipulation and spoken word) and Adam 'Izaak' Wasążnik (drums, drum programming, percussion, alto saxophone, throat singing and screams). The trio set out to record an EP, Stan Nieustalony, the very same year. In 2008 the Russian MALS label signed them. They reissued an extended version of Stan Nieustalony incorporating the tracks from Demo II. And now we have a new full-length album filled with adventurous progressive rock. Titled Work In Progress.

Zanim opens the album with Oriental flair. It's an all too short piece that leads us into the cosmic and spacey Droga Za Widnokres. I don't speak any Polish, but assume there is something about drugs, so it's not so strange if we have psychedelic touches along with a melodic and folky basic tone. When it comes to rockier stuff, King Crimson must be one strong influence on the band's sound. Körkarlen bears some clear traces of works like Larks Tongues In Aspic or Starless, although the alto sax in there gives a somewhat modern classical flair and I also like the jazz-like interlude.

The long Entropia starts with some dark sounds (is this a synthesizer?). There is a bit spacy droning over which first the sax improvises a bit and then other synths appear until an Oriental keyboard theme with loose percussion materializes. Halfway through (well, around 9 minutes into the piece) there is a calm, melodic sung part. Duchy Elektryczności is a bit different from the rest, but fits in well, with its dark wavy sound, carried by slow organ and distorted vocals. Ludzie-Muchomory starts again with spacey synths, I'd say that also the Berlin School of electronic music has left some impression on the band's sound, but I could be mistaken there. Much of the CD is actually less rocky than I thought after the first listening and synths play a greater role than the guitar does. Out of this crystalizes another part with calm melancholic singing before at around 5 minutes there is a somewhat Pink Floyd kind of guitar solo and the band speeds up into a psychedelic part. The album's closing track Odwodnienie, Omdlenie, Zaćmienie is a calm atmospheric and jazz-fusion oriented prog piece.

As a whole this is not the easiest of albums, but give it a few spins and it will grow on you. It's a worthwhile effort for people with an open mind. By the way, the album is available as a download version with five tracks (40:47 minutes), and an expanded CD digipack version with two more tracks (#2 and #7).

***+ Carsten Busch (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

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