It is a privilege for me to get to review band debuts, and then review subsequent albums. It makes me feel like I’m sharing in the complete history of the band. I was able to review both the debut and sophomore albums from Wave, and here they are again with a third album. “Dream” released on March 31st. I can honestly say this album is another step up for the band.
Wave hails from Poland. The members include: Grzesiek Opałko on guitars and vocals, Marcin Wrona on guitars and vocals, Artur Ramiączek on drums, Wojtek Lisowicz on keys and vocals, and Wiktor Moderau on bass. As far as Polish bands go, they are a mixture of unique and familiar.
Wave absolutely belongs in the Progski community. They play a progressive rock with those familiar melancholy notes, bass-driven compositions, haunting atmospheres, and dark rock influences. So, if you like other Polish bands, you will probably like them, too. However, Wave is also quite different. It’s almost like they play a “post-Polish prog” style of music. They have many of the same elements, but they use them in vastly different ways with unique effects.
The band loves to write abstract music. Many of the songs are meant to make you feel a certain way, or to help you experience certain textures or inferences. Much of their music is like an experiment with your head, and so their albums typically lack strong or catchy vocal hooks, but replace them with lots of whispering vocals, powerful feelings, aching hearts, and vivid imagery.
“Dream”, as I mentioned, is another step up for the band. Their debut “Me and Reality” was hazy and mysterious. Their follow up, “Between”, was very different, featuring extremely abstract songs, some of which communicated visceral, filthy, and even off-putting ideas. It was truly a beautiful slog through the mud at times, and the musical expertise in play was substantial. Now, with “Dream”, the band have stepped back from that negative threshold, and have provided an album that feels otherworldly, or, perhaps, inner-worldly. The abstraction and textures are all still there, but they are now used to communicate introspective, fluid, and dark ideas. It’s actually quite a difference, and I think the band is better for it.
What does that mean? As brilliant as “Between” was, it wasn’t something you’d want to hear all that often. It was too mentally taxing to be a regular in your playlist. With “Dream”, the band have crafted amazing melodies, many played with delicate electric guitars, and others with some stunning piano. The band has also mixed straightforward songwriting with the abstractions, so that many songs provide you with a solid touchstone to grasp in the middle of its streaming consciousness.
The album is full of noteworthy tracks. Many of them will remind you of early Riverside or perhaps Xanadu’s “The Last Sunrise”. In fact, the opener, “Pavement Reefs”, very much reminds me of an early 00s Polish progressive rock, complete with the hovering cymbals, dark whispers, and gentle guitar melodies. “See Through Shape” is another good one with lots of bass-driven rhythms, extremely beautiful piano, and feelings of uncertainty. Both of those songs are slightly more “normal” in approach, but are following by “Night Wishes” and “Dark”, both of which are melodic abstractions that will help you experience shadows and greyness. The band utilizes some great electronic and synthetic elements to achieve this, almost sounding like something from Vangelis at points. Actually, on “Dark”, the band almost gives off this jazz club vibe in how it marches and trudges along with grace and class.
I would say, however, that the last half of the album is where the music truly shines the most. “So Cold”, “Hyper”, and “Dream” are probably the best three songs on the album. “So Cold” has a crazy atmosphere that really explodes near the end with some eerie soprano vocals that are haunting and ever so slightly off-key. It’s really a great experience. “Hyper”, ironically, brings back that jazz beat vibe I mentioned, even with some musing harmonica, before launching itself in the stratosphere with one of the best instrumentals and emotional climaxes of the album. Finally, the band saved the best for last with “Dream”. This song has an attractive quality to it immediately. It is based on an emotional melody at its very core, and its slowly builds steam, offering my favorite vocals and harmonies on the record. It really feels like an early Polish prog song, but still feels creamy and fluid to the point where abstraction is attained.
I’m really enjoying Wave’s output. It’s great to see them improve with each release, and to continue to have ideas that are quite unique and even brilliant. As much as I like their last album, it was a difficult album to process mentally, but “Dream” is proving to be a joy to hear again and again. You will be doing yourself a favor if you take a look.
Find Wave online: