Amarok - Neo Way - 2002
Amarok is the name under which Michal Wojtas produced two albums so far, from which “Neo Way” is the second one. Please don’t confuse this Polish musician with the Spanish band with the same name. Michael is a talented multi-instrumentalist, who plays guitars and keyboards and takes care of sampling and programming of the electronic music instruments he uses. On this album he is supported by the well known Camel bass player Colin Bass, Artur Szolc on drums and three lovely female singers that provide backing vocals.
Neo way is an album with two faces: on the one hand it contains rock songs (with now and then a symphonic touch) and on the other hand we find instrumental explorations with influences of classical and worldmusic. Many of the instrumental pieces are heavily inspired by Mike Oldfield. The opening track “Dejanu” (4:27) with it’s worldmusic basis and the 7 parts that form the title track “Neo way” (total time 28:31) with which the album finishes, fall into this category. In one of these parts Gordon Giltrap could well play the acoustic guitar. This is also the case with the piano and finger picking guitar piece “Two faces” (1:24). Another remarkable piece is “Fifth mount” (3:29), a beautiful solo piano composition which certainly would have fitted an ELP or Keith Emerson album.
The rock songs on the album are patently obvious influenced by Dire Straits and Pink Floyd or more specifically by the guitarists of these bands, Mark Knopfler and David Gilmour. From the first one the typical solo licks are borrowed in tracks 2 and 4, “Up hill” (4:18), “…No more a-roving” (4:58). The latter song and track 7 “Hope” (5:17) also feature the rhythmic accompaniment style of the latter guitarist. On all these songs, we hear the pleasant lead vocals of Colin Bass, who could also be responsible for this last composition, as it reminds very much of the compositions on his recent solo album.
Track 5 “On the road” (3:28) is a country-rocker with again acoustic guitar play like Gordon Giltrap and an overall style that is reminiscent to the sound of the Shadows.
As you might understand from this review so far, the variety of compositional styles on this album is very wide. It’s a matter of taste if you like this kind of variation on one album. You might explain this diversity as prove of the versatility of Michael as a composer. Next to that is the fact that all compositions are pleasant and very well performed with an eye for details. This well compensates the small demerit that some parts of the compositions sound very much like the examples mentioned. The opening track and the fine piano piece are exceptions to this and contribute to a slightly more than average rating.