Polis are a German band that I did not know previously. They consist of Christian Roscher (vocals), Christoph Kästner (guitar / vocals), Marius Leicht (keyboards / vocals), Andreas Sittig (bass guitar / vocals) and Sascha Bormann (drums). My bad, turns out that Weltklang, released in April of this year, is their third album after Eins (2011) and Sein (2014, see review). Both these albums had been released independently but now the band has found a label.
I read a review saying that they sound like a harder version of DDR-prog legend Stern Combo Meissen, but after listening to their new album a couple of times, I find that comparison to be on shaky ground. Sure, Polis are from the town of Plauen in the southmost corner of what formerly was Eastern Germany, and they sing in the German language, and they have a symphonic basis (if you want to witness Stern Meissen at their best, get their classic album Weisses Gold - wonderful).
Their website tells me that since 2010 Polis have evolved from a bluesy kind of prog rock of their first album Eins to a more epic and song focused sound. And that the second album was more romantic and fragile, while album number three continues in that direction, adding also harder and darker elements. Well, since I have not listened to previous work I cannot confirm or disprove this. But let me tell you what I heard when I played the album.
Opener Tropfen kicks loose with 1970s flavoured progressive hard rock that reminds me of Motorpsycho. Then comes a very Flower Kings-like organ/guitar part that flows into a synth-part with a child's voice in the lead (this part indeed reminds a bit of Stern Combo Meissen), then it's back to the heavier side of the band with fuzzy guitars and bass with a wonderful organ solo.
The singing on Gedanken reminds me of Peter Gabriel, which is a great compliment. There are some great harmony vocals too and very cool guitar solo and that organ again.
Leben is the longest piece on the album. It has a synth opening, then groovy and rocky section which leads into fragile singing. There is an eerie interlude which leads into a melodic soaring guitar solo over a loose percussion rhythm, gradually building up in force to a Pink Floyd-like scale. The piece then ends with singer Roscher in the lead, almost without instruments then ending in a synth chord.
Abendlied is as the title says a quiet piece. It's a lullaby with piano and vocals. Nice. Just nice.
Sehnsucht sees again a heavy approach again with some aggressive retro prog, while Gebet brings another short piece.
Steig Herab is possibly my favourite piece. The majestic melody reminds vaguely of Anyone's Daughter and something else which doesn't come to mind (it might be Magellan, although this is soundwise quite different). Wonderful vocals with a twist and superb harmony vocals. This dissolves into a section led by dreamy piano with other instruments making sporadic appearances and building up towards some kind of a climax.
Closer Mantra starts with an Orientally sounding strummed string instrument (I think the bass). Mellotron in the back. And dark harmony vocals. It ends in another Motorpsycho-ish that reminds me of their Heavy Metal Fruit album.
What a great album. Over way too soon, many may think. But for me 39 minutes is just perfect for an album. After listening a couple of times, I went online and ordered the vinyl version (this is music that belongs on 12” slabs of vinyl!) as well as the previous two albums. Check them out!
**** Carsten Busch (edited by Dave Smith)
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