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Music Review: Satellite – Nostalgia

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One of the joys of writing the Eurorock column for a site such as Blogcritics is that it sometimes gives me the chance to hear bands I might otherwise have missed. Then I can pass on the good news to others and help spread the word in the process.  So please believe me when I say that any lovers of good quality progressive rock music will really not want to miss out on today’s band, Satellite.

Satellite is already highly respected across Europe and their album Nostalgia (Metal Minds Productions) their fourth studio release. However, you could still miss them as it is sometimes hard for any band, no matter how good, to break out of their homeland, in this case Warsaw, in Poland.

Satellite was formed in 2000 by drummer Wojtek Szadkowski, who writes the band's material. An album A Street Between Sunrise And Sunset was released in 2003. They followed it, two years later, with Evening Games which also became available live on DVD.

These releases generated some excellent reviews and by the time the equally impressive Into The Night came out in 2007 they had built quite a reputation for themselves within the extended prog world. It was also in that year that they played at the prestigious Baja Prog Festival in faraway Mexico.

The latest album, Nostalgia, deals with a concept described by the band as, ‘coming to terms with the past, about the need for a change, starting anew, and distancing oneself to one's own past’. The title seems to fit perfectly as there is plenty here to take us back to the days of past prog glories. 

Having said that, Satellite give it all a nice blast of fresh air whilst introducing some contemporary ideas and plenty of twists along the way. Wojtek explains, ‘it was always my ambition to create a perfect connection between modern music and classic progressive music’. It is definitely one not to miss and as a result of hearing it I am now eagerly seeking out their entire back catalogue.

It opens with the nine minute, oddly titled, “Every Desert Got It’s Ocean”. It’s a start that is brimmed full of confidence. Play the rest of the album through and you will see that this belief is very well placed indeed. This nine-minute track includes some great Steve Rothery-style guitar from Sarhan Kubeisi, amid further splashes of Fish-era Marillion. However, it is all wrapped into a fresh package and style that immediately grabs your attention.

The impressive “Repaint The Sky”,with its retro sounding opening, cleverly shifts and twists its way through a highly engaging track. It leads nicely towards a contender for album highlight, “Afraid Of What We Say”.

This track took hold of my aging prog senses and gave them a really good workout. When gifted guitarist Sarhan suddenly launches into a magnificent and clever Santana style break I was almost transported off to Woodstock, oddly appropriate as we near its 40th anniversary. As strange as it sounds, it fits, and it does so perfectly.

This gives way to an excellent keyboard section, in Tony Banks of Genesis style, which builds towards an uplifting symphonic ending. It’s an utterly brilliant nine magical minutes worth of prog and I can’t stop playing the damn thing.

Quality ideas abound on this album. The seven minute “I Want You To Know” is the track from which the title of the album is taken. ‘Nostalgia feels like wine’ sings the impressive Robert Amirian with hardly a hint of an accent.

“Over Horizon” opens gently before a lush and stylish symphonic section lifts it on high. It all builds towards a killer chorus which arrives like a sudden blaze of sunlight on a spring day. Again it’s uplifting, intricately multi-textured, and is well thought out and brilliantly executed.

“Am I Losing Touch?”, a question I find myself asking quite a lot of late, is a near ten minute epic in the true sense of the word. It is huge in both scale and ambition and is the sort of thing that can easily miss its target if it wasn’t done as well as this. Drummer and writer Wojtek deals with a myriad of time changes of his own making as the music shifts and swirls like sand in a breeze.

Listen out for a bizarre, yet oddly effective, Isaac Hayes moment as the track weaves along its many paths. Of course it could just be me 'losing touch' after all! Sudden harmonies, lead to a bass-over-piano-over-acoustic section which, in turn opens out to more lush symphonic touches. Then it all, rather cleverly, goes full circle.

The album ends with “Is It Over?” which, after a sudden break in the middle, builds towards another sumptuous ending. It is yet more solid and ambitious prog in the best tradition of the word.

The odd clumsy lyric apart this album really hits all of its intended targets and more than deserves the attention that it is attracting. It is available in two versions, the one on CD digipak has two bonus tracks, “The Colour Of Rain”, and “Relaxed”.

I hope you enjoy your trip through Nostalgia.

The album’s impressive artwork was done by Katarzyna Niwinska. Her website is well worth a visit.

The band themselves can be found by visiting their Myspace page (in English).

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