One of the most special things I have the pleasure to come across in the work here at Lady Obscure is seeing something completely new, a form of music truly unheard. It happens so much that almost every review I write has some mention of the phenomenon, but then there are the rarities, bands that don’t just bend the rules but blast through them. Today’s review, for instance, is a band that took genres completely foreign to each other, and not only put them together, but made something wondrous out of them. Hailing out of Budapest, Hungary, Special Providence brought together a multitude of styles in their third studio release, Soul Alert, and by using their immense skill and ingenuity, delivered something unique.
Formed in 2004, Special Providence consist of Zsolt Kaltenecker on keyboards, Adam Marko on drums, Attila Fehervari on bass, and Marton Kertesz on guitar. Through their solid studio releases and live shows, their unique combination of instrumental jazz, progressive rock/metal and electronic music have made them a strong force in the Central Eastern European region. In their excessive touring of all of Europe, and with shows in Japan as well, they set a very high standard for any eclectic instrumental bands anywhere. Putting all this past experience to use, their album Soul Alert delivers in their style they simply call progressivejazzrockmetalturbochill. (Their self named genre)
So to begin, what serves as the basis for this music? The bulk of what is delivered on Soul Alert has a sense of the myriad styles all being structured around a solid foundation of modern jazz. With this in mind, let’s dig into the album opener, Babel Confusion. With an opening audio sample of a scattered chatter of voices, it jumps into action with a staccato of chords before letting the jazzy tones take control. The drummer holds the pace, and is thankfully up front in the mix, while the bass is a smooth flow, bridging the gap for the rest of the band to ride on. Kertesz’s guitar work here is subdued, delicately dancing on his strings. Then the other foot drops, they punch into overdrive and the elements of rock and metal come to the forefront. There is zero lack of musicianship on the album as a whole; these guys are in total control of their instruments. As the guitar goes into metal zone, with heavy crushing chords, Kaltenecker takes over the lead on the keyboards with some work that is furiously blissful. The tone settles back into a rocky-jazzy type and the four unite into a fiery finish. It’s a one of a kind trip, really a delight to listen to.
Special Providence doesn’t settle for just this one mood though, throughout the nine remaining songs, they really stretch themselves across the board without sacrificing one iota of quality. Bottom line, these guys are good. Real good. Track two, Lazy Boy, really lives up to its title with a bass groove highlighted by simple tacks on the keys and a layering of some killer lead guitar and keyboard work with the added touch of some electronic work and a dash of metal thrown in for good measure. K2 starts off with the electronic element at the forefront before letting the jazz element take over its post at the heart of the music, with Marko’s smooth as a baby’s butt drumming really shining, as if he isn’t even lifting up the sticks, but just sliding them from one strike to the next, a really all around vibe to structure the song around. For the title track, Soul Alert, they open softly, really setting a mood of wonder for the song to be built on. The drums, bass, and keys all act in accordance to set the percussive tones, almost ethereal in its sound. Then the thunder is brought in, and they use it to punctuate the moments between brilliant instrumental movements. This is a constant throughout the song and album, there is no doubt who is in control of this journey.
There is so much to digest on Soul Alert, especially for anyone who truly appreciates a wide variety of styles and excellent musicianship. There is no fear in these guys of trying something truly outside the box, and for them, most of it works brilliantly. It’s the kind of music that sets a standard for many to build upon, and I for one would surely love to see what Special Providence’s blend breeds in the future.
Soul Alert can be purchased at https://specialprovidence.bandcamp.com/album/soul-alert