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Reviews of the new record "Expect Unexpected":


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Prog-Reviews

July 2003, Sweden


ANKH - Expect Unexpected
Rating: 8/10


I must admit that I'm not that familiar with Polish progressive rock, but I'm probably right anyway if I say that Ankh has to be one of the best bands in this genre over there. Quidam is of course one of the better too, but they can't be compared to Ankh in any way.

The band was founded in Kielce, Poland in 1991 and they have released four albums so far. Actually I don't know whether to call their music progressive or not. It' s progressive in the sense that it's experimental, but it's not the kind of music that you usually associate with progressive rock. Previously they have used violin as a part of their sound, but on their new album "Expect Unexpected" you can only hear it in one song: "loop fast violin mix". The music is very much dominated by keyboards, often programmed ones, like a hybrid between "synth bands" and progressive rock. I can't really compare them with any other bands.

The album is very good although it isn't exactly within my musical frames. But I 'm open-minded and Ankh is a nice new experience.

Date: 2003-07-17
Reviewer: Greger Rönnqvist
greger.rnnqvist@telia.com


Inferno Magazine

May 2003, Finland


A progressive rock phenomenon heading from the land of seven consonants. The band has gained recognition with the breaking of musical boarders between rock,ethno,folk and electro charachters. Having about ten years on their neck, the grip of professionalism surely is at hand, but even though the dots separate the actual phrases, yet this isn't the new form of Finnish basic laguage skills. The ethnic elements shine out in an adhesive way and keeps the listener active with the interesting rhytmic blends. Adding some warm guitars at the same time to the whole outcome turns out as a positive product. One doesn't need to get a scale to weigh the progression of the breaking of the musical boarders. The music is in equilibrium as a scale needs to be: thousand kilos of clouds way as much as thousand kilos of lead. It's nice to be in balance, especially when the musical substances are present.

Kenny 7/10



Progressiivinen rock ?ilmiö seitsemän konsonantin maasta. Bändi tunnetaan omalaatuisesta musiikin rajojen rikkomisesta, kuten rock, etno, folk ja elektron luonteenlaadusta. Kymmenisen vuotta selkärepussa kuulostaakin jo ammattitaitoiselta viserrykseltä, mutta vaikka pilkutukset levyllä kohdistuvat uusien lauseiden jäsentelyksi, ei tätä silti voi kutsua Suomen kielen uudeksi kieliopiksi. Etniset elementit ovat rytmityksen valossa mielenkiintoisia, lisäämällä siihen elektronista tunnelman vivahdetta ja lämmintä kitarointia, kokonaisuudeksi aukenee positiivisen jäntevä ja geniaalinen tuotos. Rakenteet ovat vaa?alla hyvin punnittu ja kasvava muutoksen musiikillinen eteneminen on hyvin harkittua, eikä rajoja olla ylitetty ilman passia. Yhtä tasapainossa kuin horoskoopin vaaka, vaikkei persoonaltaan vastine painolleen. Tuhat kiloa pumpulia on kuin tuhat kiloa lyijyä. Tasapainossa on hyvä olla, varsinkin kun musiikin kaikki aineenosat ovat koolla.

Kenny 7/10





Underground Society E-Zine

May 2003, France


Vu la bio jointe a ce CD, Ankh serait une véritable entitée en Pologne, en étant l'un des leaders de la scene electro rock progresive. Et ce ne sont pas les 16 titres de "Expect Unexpected" qui nous dirons le contraire... Ankh mixe plusieurs éléments comme le rock, l' ethno, le folk ou encore l' electronice sur des titres parfait comme "Never", "Love Supreme", "I Want You" et "escape" s'inscrivant dans une structure sonore assez complexe et riche en émotions... Ankh est un groupe a découvrir...



European Progressive Rock Reviews

July 2003, England


This new album is their third studio release which is on the Metal Mind Records label and is also distributed by the same company. Just when you think you've heard everything, something comes along that not only throws you sideways but also expands your musical tastes. Ankh do just that. Is this progressive? electronic? classic rock? a slice of ethno? A smidge of ambience? psychedelic? You name it, it's here, in fact you may as well throw in the kitchen sink. Seriously though, this music is in fact a combination of the lot. It starts off in quite a straight forward fashion with a track that just about blends classic rock with electronic music and is impossible to stop singing along to. Then the complexities surface and tend to remind me of Landberk but then, before you realise it, this album again changes course and eventually winds up in something akin to psychedelic 60's music meeting prog for the tracks "Never", "You And Me" and "Escape". Yes, come to think about it, some of this music does have a retro feel to it. Actually, the way this band carry you through this album and genres, they begin to make you question the very fibre of your musical tastes. I shake my head in disbelief as loops, viola/violin, (used sparingly) nestle between guitars, keys and drums as if that's the way it should be. This is an amazing journey through the soundscape of these Polish maestro's named Ankh. Don't just listen to one track, you need to hear the whole thing to appreciate some of the strange complexities that are going on. An album that needs a lot of time to grow on you. 80%

www.metal-only.com

June 2003, Sweden


- Kan du börja med att berätta för de läsare som inte hört Ankh hurudan musik ni spelar och lite om bandets historia?

Krzysztof - Det är svart att definiera den musik vi spelar eftersom definitionen inte egentligen spelar nagon roll. Da vi komponerar latarna sa tänker vi inte pa nagon speciell sort. Vad som räknas är soundet vi gillar i den speciella stunden, vi känner att det medför stor tillfredsställelse för oss och vi känner inte behovet av att identifiera oss med nagon speciell musikstil. Vi förändras som människor och därmed förändras även var musik. Troligtvis är det därför att det är sa svart att definiera var stil. Vad gäller bandets historia sa startades det i början av 90-talet. Da spelade vi med ett ganska unikt (som nagra personer säger) set med en fiolspelare (Michal Jalonek). 1993, efter festivalen i Jarocin (den viktigaste rock festivalen i Polen vid den tiden), var vi faktiskt vann alla priser, startade var karriär; inspelningar, intervjuer och var popularitet i Polen började. En annan vändpunkt skedde 1999 da vi spelade vid Rio Art Rock Festival var, lat oss säga, vi fick fler fans och kontakter utanför vart land. Hur som helst, du kan finna fler detaljer pa var hemsida www.ankh.art.pl.

- Berätta gärna lite om er nyaste utgivning "Expect Unexpected". Hur har reaktionerna varit pa albumet och vad tycker du personligen om det?

Krzysztof - Det kan noteras att detta album har fatt de bästa recensionerna av dom alla. Det tog oss lang tid för vi slutligen slutförde arbetet med albumet. Och för första gangen spelade vi in utan fiolspelare sa vi var lite rädda resultatet och för fansens reaktioner. För mig är det helt klart det bästa album vi har nagonsin spelat in. För det första eftersom vi skapade perfekta förutsättningar för att spela in vad vi verkligen ville, jag menar, vi fixade upp en egen inspelningsstudio. Det är även orsaken till varför det tog sa lang tid att spela in albumet.

- Vem av er skriver musiken och texterna? Varifran kommer inspirationen till texterna?

Krzysztof - Texterna är skrivna av Piotrek Krzeminski och även vi, hans vänner, vet inte vad som inspirerar honom. Jag kan säga att denna gang är han mer sparsam med orden och tack vare det, enligt min mening, sa är betydelsen mer universell.

- Omslagsbilden pa "Expect Unexpected" ser ganska underlig ut. Vad försöker ni utrycka med bilden?

Krzysztof - Jag tycker omslaget är precis som musiken, det är en bild, ett postkort kanske, som du kan motta och se hur du vill. Givetvis skulle jag kunna berätta vad det egentligen representerar men jag vill inte ta bort den speciella njutningen av ens egen tolkning fran den. Jag kan bara säga att männen som är ansvariga för designen och fotografierna är vara vänner sa pa ett sätt sa känner och tänker vi pa ett liknande sätt.

- Du och Michal Pastuszka spelade in albumet vid B-Ton Studio i Polen. Varför valde ni denna studio och är du nöjd med resultatet? Berätta gärna lite om inspelningssessionerna.

Krzysztof - Som jag tidigare nämnde sa fixade vi (jag och Michal) upp var egen B-Ton Studio var vi kan spela in vad vi vill och när vi vill. Vi arbetar sa länge tills vi är nöjda med resultatet. Da du fragar om sessionerna sa eftersom studion finns i min källare sa spenderar Michal dagarna i ända framför datorn och resten av bandet droppar in da och da för att spela in nagonting.

- Varför valde ni "Ankh" (vilket är den egyptiska hieroglyfen för liv) som namn för bandet? Nagon historia bakom det?

Krzysztof - Namnet valdes av var första trummis, Jarek Kubalski (som nu för övrigt är skaparen av alla bilder pa vara skivor). Ja, ankh betyder liv och det är sa vi förstar det, det finns manga aspekter av det precis som det finns manga olika aspekter av var musik.

- Hur kom det sig att ni blev signerade av Metal Mind Productions da Ankh inte pa nagot sätt kan anses vara metal? Är du nöjd med samarbetet?

Krzysztof - Det är hittills det bästa skivbolaget som vi nagonsin samarbetat med i Polen. Precis som manga andra saker i bandets historia sa tycker jag att det var en slump.

- Spelar du eller nagon annan medlem i bandet i nagot annat band eller har ett sidoprojekt för tillfället?

Krzysztof - Nu är det bara var trummis som tar del i andra musikprojekt.

- Ett par manader sen sa spelade ni vid Baja Prog VII Festival i Mexico. Gick spelningen bra och hur välkända är ni där borta?

Krzysztof - Jag tycker det var perfekt. Som jag ovan nämnde sa var vi rädda för hur den allmänna responsen skulle vara eftersom det var första gangen som vi presenterade var nya stil utanföre vart land. Da det kom till Polen kunde vi övertyga fansen till det men vi kunde inte förutspa situationen utomlands, i Mexico, p.g.a. nagra kulturella skillnader. Som tur var sa var mottagandet stralande.

- Vilka musikstilar lyssnar du själv pa? Vilka band tycker du har paverkat dej och bandet mest da det kommer till skapandet av musik?

Krzysztof - Igen, det är svart att säga vilka stilar jag tycker om. Under senare tid har jag lyssnat mycket pa Brian Eno's "Music For The Airports", men jag tycker om alla hans skivor. Förutom det, John Zorn och även David Bowie, Madonna, nutida musik av stralande polska kompositörer som Krzysztof Gorecki och Krzysztof Penderecki.

- Vad är era planer för framtiden? Nagra konserter planerade och när kan vi förvänta oss nagot nytt material av Ankh?

Krzysztof - Vi arbetar med en nyutgava av äldre latar med nytt arrangemang och ljud. Och givetvis haller vi pa att planera nagra konserter, den viktigaste och största är Przystanek Woodstock i Zary, Polen (i början av augusti).

- Och slutligen, en klassisk fraga. Varför korsade kycklingen vägen?

Krzysztof - Hon trodde att ett bättre liv finns där ute och hon korsade vägen…

- Tack för intervjun. De sista orden är dina.

Krzysztof - Hälsningar till alla vara fans i Finland (och säkert även i Sverige - Janne). Hur är det möjligt att kycklingen gick sa langt?

- Intervju av Janne


www.metal-only.com

June 2003, Sweden

- Could you first tell the readers that haven't heard Ankh what kind of music do you play and a little bit of the band's history?

 

Krzysztof: - It's difficult to define the kind of music we play because defining it doesn't really matter. When we compose the songs we don't think about one particular kind. What counts is the sound that we like it in that special moment, we feel it brings us a lot of satisfaction and we don't feel the need to identify ourselves with any kind of music. We are changing as people and therefore our music changes as well. Probably that's because it's so difficult to define our style. As far as the history of the band is concerned, it was started at the beginning of the 90s. Then we played in quite a unique (as some people say) set with a violin player (Michal Jelonek). In 1993, after the festival in Jarocin (the most important rock fest in Poland at that time), where we actually got all the prizes, we started our career; recordings, interviews and our popularity in Poland began. Another turning point was the year 1999 when we played during the Rio Art Rock Festival where, let's say, we gained more fans and contacts outside our country. Anyway, you can find more details on www.ankh.art.pl.


- Please tell me a little bit about your latest release "Expect Unexpected". How has the response been on the album and what do you personally think about it?

Krzysztof - It can be noticed that this album has the best reviews of all. It took us a long time before we finally finished our work on it. And for the first time we recorded without the violinist. We were a little bit afraid of the result and the response of the fans. For me it's certainly the best album we've ever recorded. First of all, because we created perfect conditions for recording what we really wanted, I mean, we set up our own recording studio. That's also the reason why it took us so long to record that album.

- Who of you writes the music and the lyrics? Where does the inspiration for the lyrics come from?

Krzysztof - The lyrics are written by Piotrek Krzeminski and even we, his friends, don't know what the inspiration for him is. I can say that this time he's more economical with words and thanks to that, in my opinion, the meaning is more universal.

- The cover picture on the album "Expect Unexpected" looks quite strange. What are you trying to express with the picture?

Krzysztof - I think the cover is just like the music; it's a picture, a postcard maybe, which you can receive and see what you want. Of course, I could tell you what it really represents but I wouldn't like to take that special pleasure of your own interpretation out of it. I can only say that the men responsible for designing and photography are our friends so, in a way, we feel and think similarly.

- You and Michal Pastuszka recorded the album at B-Ton Studio in Poland. Why did you choose this studio and are you happy with the result? Please tell me a little bit about the recording sessions.

Krzysztof - As I said before, we (me and Michal) set up our own B-Ton Studio where we can record when we want and what we want. We work as long as we are satisfied with the result. When you ask about the sessions; well, since the studio is in the basement of my house, Michal spends all day long in front of the computer and the rest of the band drops in occasionally to record something.

- Why did you choose the name "Ankh" (which is the Egyptian hieroglyph for "life") for the band? Any story behind it?

Krzysztof - The name was chosen by our first drummer, Jarek Kubalski (by the way, now he is the author of all the pictures on our records). Indeed, ankh means life and that's how we understand it; there are many different aspects of it just like there are many different aspects of our music.

- How did you end up at Metal Mind Productions when Ankh can't in any way be considered metal? Are you happy with the co-operation?

Krzysztof - So far it's the best label we've ever cooperated with in Poland. Just like many things in the history of our band, I think, it's accidental.

- Do you or any other member of Ankh play in any other band or have a side-project at the moment?

Krzysztof - Now, only the drummer takes part in a different music project.

- A couple of months ago you played at Baja Prog VII Festival in Mexico. Did the show go well and how well known are you over there?

Krzysztof - It was perfect, in my opinion. As I mentioned above, we were afraid of the public response because it was the first time we presented our new style outside our country. As far as in Poland we could convince the fans to it, we couldn't predict the situation abroad, in Mexico, because of some cultural differences. Fortunately, the reception was great!

What styles of music do you personally listen to? Which bands do you think have had the most impact on you and the band when it comes to your own creation of music?

Krzysztof - Again, it's difficult to say about the styles I like. Lately, I've been listening a lot to Brian Eno's "Music For The Airports", but I like all his records. Besides, John Zorn, and also David Bowie, Madonna, contemporary music by outstanding Polish composers Krzysztof Gorecki and Krzysztof Penderecki.

- What are your plans for the future? Any gigs planned and when can we expect some new material from Ankh?

Krzysztof - We're working on the re-edition of our previous songs in a new arrange and sound. And of course we're planning some gigs, the most important and biggest is Przystanek Woodstock in Zary, Poland (the beginning of August).

- And finally, a classical question. Why did the chicken cross the road?

Krzysztof - Well, she thought there's a better life out there and she crossed the road...

- Thank you for the interview. The final words are yours.

Krzysztof - Greetings to all our fans in Finland (and surely also in Sweden - Janne). How is it possible that a chicken went so far?

- Interview by Janne








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Progressive World Net



Expose (Exploring the Boundaries of Rock) - Issue No. 19, May 2000, p. 68, USA


Imagine the heaviness of Anekdoten with the violin chops of Curved Air, and you’re starting to get close; throw in some treated vocals, classical interludes (credit to Grieg), folk references, an ocassional female voice, and an overall low-fi production that makes this sound like a genuine 70’s artifact. The band is anywhere from four to seven members, track depending, and scant liner notes in Polish don’t make a reviewer’s job any easier. But the music speaks for itself: hard, edgy, brutal and heavy, with numerous psych inferences – but enough cracks in the wall of sound to keep it interesting; the raw and gritty violin work leads the sonic assault – one might be reminded of Simon House or Darryl Way in the overt rock approach. Four long multi-part suites are each divided into numerous subsections. Halfway through, without warning, the go ultra-lo-fi, complete with vinyl crackles and pops, and launch into an ass-kicking version of "21st Century Schizoid Man" with violin assuming all the sax parts and a bizarre spoken mid section. All taken, it’s refreshing to hear any band with such a no-holds-barred approach, and Ankh does it exceedingly well.

Peter Thelen



Progression - The Quarterly Journal of Progressive Music,
Issue 34, Winter/Spring 2000, pp.108 i 110, USA


This fascinating Polish group Expands from a quartet to a septet for their fourth disc, which is one of the best things I’ve heard in many moon.
The title means "It Will Be Mystery", and "blaza 11", the 19-second opener, sets an appropiate tone. It recalls the begining of Muhal Richard Abrams’ great piece, "Wise in Time", leading to the supremely heavy "Lancelot", nearlty seven minutes of masterful, string-driven rock.
Ankh’s take on "W grocie Krola Gor", Edvard Grieg’s famous melody from his "Peer Gynt" suite, starts seriously, but grows more playful before reeling into the amazing "Tajemne slowo". This punishingly hard rocker burns with a deeply absorbed molding of industrial, anthemic rock, and the outer fringes of electric improvisation. (Speaking of which, they also do a ferocious "21st Century Schizoid Man", with a middle section that develops some great, abstractic ideas.)
The brief "Gekko", beatifully sung by Agnieszka Dudek, is followed by "Pulsohordofon", one of the disc’s highlights. The opening three minutes of this track, with gently mesmeric violin, give way to a second half that possesses the same odd, warped atmosphere of Led Zeppelin’s mid-section on "Whole Lotta Love", psychedelicized to a whole ‘nother level. The album contains nine other short "blaza" pieces, apparently a series; each explores a different sound world, or sets a different mood. "Blaza 3" ends the disc on an oddly disorienting note, leaving the mystery of the title unresolved.
This is the kind of disc that tempts a reviewer into describing each song, because they’re all so good. I’ll stop here, though, and just say that this sucker is most definitely going to be on my 10-best list for 2000. Highest recommendation.

Larry Nai