Fren describe themselves as an instrumental, progressive quartet based in Kraków, Poland. Formed in 2017 by Oskar Cenkier (pianos, organs, synthesizers, mellotron), Michał Chalota (guitars), Andrew Shamanov (bass guitars, synthesizers) and Oleksii Fedoriv (drums), this is their debut album, and one which has been receiving fairly unanimous praise from those who have heard it. I have a real affinity with Polish progressive rock due to my links with the scene over there, and have been contributing to a Polish website for many years, and it never ceases to amaze me just how much great music there is to be discovered by those who are prepared to venture away from the norm.
Here we have an eclectic prog band who are taking many influences from the Seventies and even late Sixties and then bringing them right up to date. There are classic keyboard sounds, including of course a mellotron, yet the guitar is far more modern, as is the bass, while the drums are often more rooted in jazz style. The result is something which is classic, timeless, yet also fresh and exciting. The rhythm section provide the foundation for keyboards and guitars to interact, and while there are a few times they do sound like classic Genesis that is actually very few and far between (there are a few bars on “Surge” which make me think that every time I hear it), but there are also elements of Tull and Crimson, while the bass playing in particular owes something to the Canterbury scene. But then over all of that is a rock guitar which is far more modern, both in sound and in style, and it is the combination of modern playing combined with traditional which really makes this stand out.
It is incredibly melodic and a really easy album to listen to and enjoy the first time of playing. There are many deft nuances and touches, and it certainly never comes across as a debut release but instead feels far more like an album from seasoned professionals. This is thoroughly enjoyable and definitely worth of investigation.