I am a big fan of this Polish band’s 2020 debut, ‘Where Do You Want Ghosts To Reside’, so I was certainly pleased to discover they had come back with a second offering. It is the same line-up with Oskar Cenkier (piano, organ, synthesizer, Mellotron), Michał Chalota (guitars), Andrew Shamanov (bass, synthesizers) and Oleksii Fedoriv (drums & percussion) and in many ways this is a direct continuation of what we had before. At times quite pastoral, and always influenced by the classics of the Canterbury scene, there are also plenty of jazz elements contained within while they are also not afraid to move more into a hard rock area with some dynamic guitar solos.
When a progressive band call an instrumental track “Hammill” everyone is going to be looking for certain influences and styles, and that is what we get on the opening number. However, that is not the highlight as although the first five songs are of different lengths and styles, it is the final one which captures the most attention, as “Turque” is more than 24 minutes long, bringing in influences from the East as well as those more usually used within the scene. Here everyone is often in flight, swapping lead roles, but playing with incredible dexterity and speed – yet never in too much of a rush with the listener being taken along for a ride, but never sure where it is going to lead. The Polish progressive scene continues to deliver some amazing bands, as it has for decades, and there is no doubt to my ears that Fren are one of the most exciting since the advent or Riverside. Time will tell if they will have as much impact.