Upon me lies a possibly difficult task, because it's 2017 and I'm about to recommend you a Polish prog-rock album. I mean, calling Dawn a prog-rock album may be too much of a simplification since the contents of the album are incredibly diverse and rich. I'll get to the that later on, right now let's focus on the creators. I could've quoted the press info found on the boys' website, but anyone can check it, so I'll just say that Alters is an audiovisual endeavour which (I suppose) morphs into its final form during live shows, during which the band: Paweł and Piotr Zalewscy (guitars, keys, lutes, basses, everything – classically trained musicians who have seen quite a few things), Robert Pludra (drums) and Osmo Nadir (visual part of the project), presents their vivid show. Unfortunately, right now I can only taste the musical part of this endeavour, but I have to say that I'm quite content about it.
Once again: Dawn can be considered prog-rock thanks to several, distinct elements. We get suite-structured compositions (one almost 20 minutes long), complemented with shorter, almost catchy songs. There's also a serious amount of epic and complicated prog-rock song writing with sophisticated arrangements and instrumentals but no cheap claptrap or swank which is quite common for prog-rock albums. And that's just one side, because there's as many psychedelic and post-rock influences reminiscent of bands such as Tortoise and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Add Zalewski brothers sense of melody along with their imagination and composing discipline and you'll get three quarters of incredible music. Alters managed to combine all the fragments and elements into a coherent and balanced whole. Yet, instead of writing trivial words, let's focus on specific elements of this MUSICAL FEAST.
It starts with an almost cinematic theme called "Hypnagogia" which becomes a swirling, fuzzy guitar sound. From the very beginning, I see similar ideas to the opening of TNT, with Alter's track no. 1 being more savage and raw, yet addictive. The title track is the "pop song", however its power lies not in its catchiness but unreal, fairytale vibe, emphasised by a Genesis-like bridge (1:27), which is confronted with aggressive synth theme overlapping a dirty guitar riff. "Klechdawa" is based on an almost new wave, guitar theme. It's a rollercoaster combining delicate psychedelic touches (intro), dynamic rock escapades, sinister gliding Godspeedesque post-rock and a totally sick coda (vocals played backwards!) with fuzzy guitars and drum parts similar to Microphones' "Samurai Sword".
So much is happening and we're only half way through. Tracklist also includes "10" with a fantastic bassline and a shadow of the apocalypse in the background (if GY!BE ever recorded a radio single it might sound just like that), with a subsequent sad interlude for an instrument called viola da gamba, which introduces the main attraction – a more than 20 minutes long series of suites: "Lucid Dreams" and "Forgotten" which conclude the album. What can I say... It's pure prog-rock, babe. The first one starts with a riff reminiscent of Crimson's Red, than we get some Pink Floyd's "Echoes" echoes (1:31), more Crimson King (5:07) and a final astral impression which bring our own dreamy Ścianka to mind (7:29; easily one of the most beautiful musical moments of this year). The first suite ends with epic and powerful prog guitars.
The latter one starts with a charming evocation of synth Genesisesque layers, with keyboard-fuelled story about a boy with hair grey as a rock concluding the song. I should summarise the review here, but I guess that I can only say that Dawn is a fantastic example of how to translate the legacy of prog rock giants to modern and clear musical language. Have a listen and think about that for a minute. That's quite an achievement.
(Translated by Krzysztof Sokalla)