Sounds From The Past is the second release from the force behind Framauro and Millenium, and record label owner Ryszard Kramarski, operating here as a solo project on guitar and keyboards. This is a special release in many ways. Although it stands between two works inspired by classic literature, 2017's Music Inspired By the Little Prince (see review) and Mr Scrooge (see review), released in 2019, it represents a distinct departure from either. What we have here is a reworking of some of Kramarski's youthful offerings, harking back to the very first releases on his Lynx record label from Framauro and given new arrangements, a new imagining and also a new language, the songs being re-recorded in English.
What can I say but what a superb way to celebrate 20 years of recording. The line-up is the same as that used on The Little Prince, featuring another highlight vocal performance from Karolina Leszko who also features regularly with Millenium to outstanding effect. The assembled musicians have done an excellent job of capturing the youthful energy and naivety while adding the experienced sheen of accomplished masters. It would be fair to say that not all the cracks are papered over, but this is no bad thing in the interests of authenticity. The opening track Visionary Of Heaven is still relevant, harking back to 50 years (or should that be 30? Never mind) of the moon landing. What starts out as a bit of plodding AOR is swiftly enlivened by Kramarski's soulful, spaced out keyboard and a shimmering guitar solo from Marcin Kruczek. After that the band hits its stride, and while some of the themes may be very much of their time, technology and the greedy, intrusive paparazzi, they remain relevant today, alongside more universal musings on love, loss, aging and nostalgia. The Technology Trap is another driving rocker featuring some lovely interplay between frenetic guitar work and soulful keyboard and a crowd pleasing sing-along chorus underpinned by a solid rhythm section. Things slow down for The Fairly Tales of A Stranger, showcasing Lesko's soulful voice backed by intricate guitar work. Here she is allowed to give vent to a full range of expression and emotion and demonstrate what a star performer she is. All I can say is that if this came on the radio while driving, I would certainly be turning up the volume. Same goes for the wistful Please Stop The Time another vehicle for Lesko to shine baring her vocal soul over a stripped down arrangement. Welcome To My Channel shows a harder, grittier edge, both musically and thematically while the last two tracks give the band a chance to flex their corporate muscle ranging between powerful orchestrations and subtle summer festival dreamscapes. The eponymous instrumental which closes certainly left me wanting more and provides a perfect backdrop to close this nostalgic journey.
I'll hold my hand up and say that I am not familiar with the original versions of the songs on this collection, so I couldn't comment on the comparison, but I can say that I found this a thoroughly enjoyable excursion which stands on its own merit. Yes, the songs are firmly rooted in 1990s rock. In the annals of Prog, despite the odd Camel kind of keyboards and Pink Floyd kind of stylings, this is probably best filed amongst more radio friendly offerings like Asia or Yes' Drama. The past may be another country where they do things differently, but this band know the score and bring the past vibrantly to life. Was it worth the visit? I should say so!
**** Andrew Cottrell
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