Whenever I see that a prog band is from Poland, my interest is obviously perked. There’s just something about the dark, moody atmosphere in much of their prog rock that speaks to me on a musical and emotional level. I saw the Polish band Wave being discussed recently, and so I had to check them out immediately. Having the name “Wave” does make it difficult to find them at times, but I finally discovered their new album “Me and Reality”, and I’m seriously impressed with the way they set themselves apart from other bands.
Wave is a band that lives up to their name. Because they are from Poland, I expected the dark atmospheres and the high strung guitars, but Wave offers something more than that, too. Their sound is definitely inspired in the 80’s new wave music (hence, the name), as well as in dark prog rock. So, think Depeche Mode mixed with Riverside, but including lots of ambient textures and structures. I would also throw in influences from 60’s and 70’s rock and punk rock, and also 90’s grunge to some degree. They shift and change tones and styles, sometimes in the middle of a song, but it always makes sense.
The band consists of Grzesiek Opałko on guitars and vocals, Marcin Wrona on guitars and vocals, Artur Ramiączek on drums, Wojtek Lisowicz on keys and vocals, and Krzysiek Tomczyk on bass. The expertise in performance is obvious here, but they also tend to use their instruments to craft a tapestry of emotion and texture, more so than simply straightforward playing.
So then, the instruments have a wide range of tone and sound. For instance, guitars from Grzesiek and Marcin are often garbled or distorted in various ways, like they are underwater. Other times, they have a distinct 80’s tone to them, and still other times they offer the piercing, elongated solos that I was hoping to hear. “Arrhythmia” and “Beyond” are good examples of the spacier guitars, but every song honestly has something new to hear. You’ll even hear guitars that feel very 60’s and 70’s to me, depending on which track you hear.
Wojtek’s keys here are fantastic, too. They often lead the fray with plenty of variety and some very catchy melodies, but the standout characteristic is the frantic nature of many of the keyboard melodies. Many of the songs feature a fast-paced keyboard line sitting over top of a haunting guitar lick and groovy rhythm section. Songs like “Corridors of Worlds” offer a glimpse into the frantic melodies that the keys provide throughout the album, whereas “Slightly Down” is a boldfaced foray into bluesy grooves.
The rhythm section, compliments of Krzysiek and Artur, is the unsung hero of the album. Drumming is very reminiscent of Pink Floyd with more oomph to me, with that gentle and steady rhythm-keeping style, with some surprises and signature changes when you may not expect it. Bass follows that same path, and feels fresh and satisfying, much like many other Polish prog bands.
Three members offer vocals here, but it seems like Grzesiek is the main singer. He has a fairly thick accent, one which I have come to enjoy with all the Polish prog I love. The vocals offer more than that, though, with a knack for melancholy hooks that really grab your heart. Overall, the vocals play an important part on the album because the styles switch up and present different ideas and evoke different feeling. “If You Say” is a great example of the dynamic vocal lines on this album.
“Me and Reality” overall is rather ambient and moody, with very little in the way of straightforward songs. It evokes feelings of floating under the sea and melancholy musings over the meaning of life. It flows along from song to song with dark feelings, gorgeous details, and lots of accents. It’s quite an experience that takes multiple listens to grasp fully. I might add that the lyrics are quite brilliantly written.
Favorite songs here easy to point out because they are all distinctive. “Corridor of Worlds” with its haunting tone was the first to grab my attention, and “Slightly Down” is obviously a favorite because of the funky vibe. I also really like “Taste of Grey”, as it has this fantastic distortion to the guitars combined with yet another frantic keyboard melody. Overall, though, I think “Arrhythmia” is my favorite song here: It has this otherworldly tone with an off kilter feeling that just knocks me flat every time.
Wave deserves your attention. These guys have a unique take on the dark rock coming out of Poland, and I find that I can’t stop listening to the album. “Me and Reality” really has some stunning moments and some melancholy lyrics and gritty tones that feel so right to me. Fans of Polish prog need to hear this album.