It seems like there are quite a few Polish bands releasing albums this year. That is perfectly fine by me, especially when they are of high quality. The new album from Moonrise is definitely one of those. “Travel Within” released on June 14th.
Moonrise consists mainly of two musicians: Kamil Konieczniak on writing and all instruments, and then Marcin Staszek on vocals. You will also hear Dariusz Rybka on saxophone. This band is actually more of a project, if you can understand that difference.
Moonrise offers some of the most soothing and lush music I have heard this year. The project plays a rich, atmospheric brand of Polish progressive rock. Now, most all Polish prog is atmospheric, but Moonrise is on a different level than many of them. The music oozes melodies and moonlight, displaying truly immersive sound design, guitar solos, and hanging ambiance. This album whisks you away into the night without any trouble at all. I would also point out the use of electronic accents, saxophone, and other textures that simply make this album even more sumptuous.
There are two things about this album that I just cannot shake. First, the echoing atmosphere, luscious sax, and emotional soloing all remind me of Out of Myself from Riverside. There was something about that album that felt raw, yet smooth at the same time, and “Travel Within” possesses that special something, too. So, while I usually try to avoid mentioning Riverside when I review a Polish band, this music absolutely does remind me of early Riverside.
Second, I hear Steve Perry and Journey all over this album, too. Marcin has a truly stunning and crystal clear voice. He will certainly be among my favorite performances of 2019. But it isn’t just his clear tone or his rich vocal melodies that make this connection for me: there is just something about his phrasing that reminds me of watching live videos of Steve Perry. For me, that is high praise. I hope that Marcin views it that way, too.
So, this is an album that mixes early Riverside with Steve Perry-era Journey to my ears: can it get much better? Not for me. Believe me, I was instantly in love with the gentle melodies paired up against the refined and reserved guitar distortion. The constant layering of sounds, effects, and melodies just feels right to me.
“Travel Within” flows so very well from track to track. It feels like a rush of emotion and melody, and it does not overstay its welcome. You can hear that fluidity through the melodious “The Answer”, the warm “Little Stone”, and the rush of “Between the Lies”.
My favorites are “Drive”, “Like An Arrow”, and “Calling Your Number”. “Drive” opens the album, and it might be one of my favorite songs this year. It is heavy on the electronic accents, and the bass groove is pure fire. The ending is a textured layering of various sounds that Kamil allows to hang in the air for just the right amount of time. “Like An Arrow” dives right in with some emotional saxophone soloing that is absolutely beautiful. This track is nine minutes long, and so it transitions a few times, but ends in probably the heaviest guitar work on the album. All in all, it feels amazing. “Calling Your Number” is a fantastic ending to the album with huge vocals and expressive melodies. It feels momentous and yet personal.
Moonrise definitely deserves more attention from the prog community. It takes serious skill to make music that is this warm, rich, and luxurious. “Travel Within” is one of those albums that seriously calms your nerves, but the sheer talent on display will definitely wrench you out of that peace to marvel at the splendid guitars and stunning vocals. I am really enjoying this album!