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Quidam: Saiko

Challenging listen from the Polish proggers.

Quidam are a six-piece from Poland who have been recording together since the mid-90s, making a kind of progressive rock lite/middlebrow prog in the vein of Pink Floyd circa the ambient rock of Wish You Were Here or Phil Collins-era Genesis. The singer, Bartosz Kossowicz, has a lightly rasping voice that has elements of both Collins and Peter Gabriel.

Other touchstones would be The Moody Blues and Marillion for this grandiose brand of symphonic bluster, with the usual guitar, bass and drums augmented by flutes, mandolin, dobro, cello and acoustic bass.

But it’s the vocals that dominate, even intrude. Not only is Kossowicz way upfront in the mix, he’s mainly singing in Polish, and so you get to hear this precisely enunciated, almost croony and more than a little unctuous voice, competing and sometimes all but drowning out the instruments and dramatic arrangements.

This would be less annoying if you could understand what he was saying. Occasionally, such as on Walec, he sings in English, and although the words are hardly original (‘I run but it’s far to go,’ indeed), it beats being blared at in what for many listeners will be an incomprehensible tongue.

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.