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Peter Matuchniak - Uncover Me

The album's first track "Fallen Ash (Landscape Burning P1)"starts off with an irresistible guitar groove that can't help but reel you in. Add to that awesome female background vocals reminiscent of Floyd's "Great Gig In The Sky" and we have five minutes of pure bliss. In the pretty title track with its lilting medieval/minstrel sound, acoustic Tull comes to mind. "Running Back To You" is more rocking showcasing the drum talent of Jimmy Keegan and invoking memories of Blondie with Deborah Harry inspired vocals. The short "Lionheart" is very English sounding prog tinged folk while "Across the Pond " has a nice jazz rock groove. The album's longest song "Rising Sun (Landscape Burning P2)" is the sequel to the first track revisiting similar melodies but with a decided melancholic edge. The flute playing of David Gilman accents the song flawlessly. Petre Matuchniak's Uncover Me has completely won over this reviewer. Progressive fans and jazz fans alike should be very happy indeed. Highly recommended!

Back in the 1980's Peter Matuchniak was part of the neo-progressive rock movement with Janysium and Mach One, before taking a break from the scene. He recently started making music again and has released albums with Gekko Projekt and Evolve IV while this is his debut solo album. One of the names I recognized from the band list was that of drummer Jimmy Keegan who replaced Nick D'Virgilio in Spock's Beard (as well as playing with Santana etc). This is an album of countless styles, yet they are all brought together by Peter's strong guitar work. There is a liberal use of sax which adds greatly to overall proceedings, and singers Natalie Azerad and Ted Zahn do a great job. While playing this I was trying to think what it reminded me of and it took a long time before I realized that in many ways this encompasses much of what Jeremy Morris delivers, except while Jeremy usually has just one style an album Peter goes from acoustic to psychedelic to 'classic' to prog to jazz to whatever he likes all in the one place. But, far from feeling disjointed this is very much a complete piece of work. On the rear of the digipak Peter classifies this as "Adult Contemporary Rock (Progressive/Jazz/ Folk)" and who am I to disagree? This is an album that can be enjoyed on first hearing, but the more that it is played the more the listener gets from it as there is something here that draws you in, whether it is the calm and warm brass or the soaring Floyd-esque vocals. This is a mature album that fans of good music, whatever the genre, will find indispensible.

If Uncover Me had been added to a full Prog sub-genre as Crossover or Eclectic, I would had been forced to rate it with no more than 3 stars, because it would be evidently out of place, but being that the Administrators decided to include it in Prog Related, I have more freedom to go with four stars, because this album is a great addition for any musical collection, of course if we are able to appreciate the beautiful blend of Prog and mainstream genres that the band offers us.

This is a diverse and enjoyable album – the back sleeve sums it up best with its category of progressive/jazz/folk. The opener ‘Falling Ash’ (part one of two of ‘Landscape Burning’) is very Pink Floyd from the Gilmour-esque guitar, the wailing female vocals and the general sound of the song. Whereas the title track with its flute and folky air brings to mind Jethro Tull.

The first thing I did with this new solo effort by prolific British guitarist Peter Matuchniak (Gekko Projekt, Evolve IV, Mach One, etc.) was change the track order. The prog fan in me couldn’t resist putting both parts of “Landscape Burning” together; no telling exactly why Peter split them nine tracks apart. They form a 14-minute epic that’s as expansively pleasing a melodic-symphonic statement as one could hope for. On guitar Matuchniak is a tastefully lyrical texturalist. I’m unclear where Peter’s vocals end and mate Ted Zahn’s begin, but it’s all good, sometimes recalling a young Greg Lake. Uncover Me has jazzy moments (“London Vibe,” “Across the Pond”), bouncy acoustic fare (“Hippy In The Rain”) and beautifully arranged balladeering (“Running Blind,” “Down in New Orleans”). What makes this album work, aside from compelling songs, is an impressive supporting cast of players including Peter’s own quintet and five guest artists. Vocalist Natalie Azerad brings a beguiling sauciness, while sax player Conor Johnson and flautist David Gilman give resonance to a wide-ranging instrumental palette. Spock’s Beard’s Jimmy Keegan does the drumming.

This is a diverse and enjoyable album – the back sleeve sums it up best with its category of progressive/jazz/folk. The opener ‘Falling Ash’ (part one of two of ‘Landscape Burning’) is very Pink Floyd from the Gilmour-esque guitar, the wailing female vocals and the general sound of the song. Whereas the title track with its flute and folky air brings to mind Jethro Tull.

Peter Matuchniak has been doing the rounds for a while. Back in the eighties you would have found him performing with Janysium and Mach One. Recently he has recorded albums with Gekko Projekt and Evolve IV. But this one sees him doing his solo thing. And as someone who has spent a lifetime progging away, there are a lot of prog influences on show. However, it's mainly in his guitar work, which sees the influences of Steve Hackett, Dave Gilmour and, especially, Andy Latimer on display. The songs on this solo album, however, really seem to take root in Gilmour led Pink Floyd. Even though the bio claims that this is for fans of Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Coldplay, it's really one for fans of "The Division Bell". Now I happen to be one of those people with not time for Roger Waters, so latter day Floyd was always my favourite. Which means tunes like 'Running Blind' and 'Falling Ash' are right up my street. Elsewhere, he gets a wee bit folky on 'Uncover Me' and a wee bit jazzy on 'London Vibe'. I'm not sure about the spoken word interludes and the closing 'Hippy In The Rain' left me a bit cold, but with some assured accompaniment from the likes of Jimmy Keegan, drummer for Spock’s Beard, this was a very satisfactory aural experience.

"Uncover Me" isn't an album that will inspire much adoration form a strictly art rock oriented audience due to the singer/songwriter stylistic roots. But if you enjoy music of this kind given embellished arrangements and utilizing compositional development to hover near the borders of the art rock realm, and think you might enjoy a few folk and jazz tinged excursions to boot, then this is an artist and album that might just charm you into exploring it more thoroughly.

The eleven tunes on Uncover Me, range in length from 2:18 to 8:08, not counting a couple really short transitions or connecting segments. The disc is a mixture of styles, but has a distinct proggy feel to it, given Peter’s guitar playing style and I guess his manner of composition. He’s not afraid to write a straight forward tune, but he seems to enjoy playing with it just a little to add something more to it. Things start off with one of the more proggy pieces “Falling Ash” [5:23] which is part one of a two part affair. It commences with some pleasant musical crescendos built around an arpegiated guitar lead line before moving into a Pink Floyd inspired movement featuring female vocalizations not unlike what’s heard on Dark Side of the Moon. After a brief spoken word segment, the singing starts and is interjected by acoustic guitar picking where the tempo slows down dramatically becoming quite dreamy and trance like. Other tunes take a more are more straight forward but might be spiced up with a proggy arrangement or embellished in some fashion. All in all there’s quite a mixture of styles and influences that ensure the disc is never boring.

When you listen to the eleven tracks you realize that Matuchniak has been influenced by a wide range of musical styles. Yet he succeeds in providing these different songs with a progressive rock twist. Therefore the album never gets bored and you're not inclined to skip to the next track. However, the songs that are most reminiscent of the music of Pink Floyd, Steve Hackett and Alan Parsons, are the highlights on Uncover Me. That's why the two-piece Landscape Burning belongs to my favourite tracks on the album. These fifteen minutes of music offer just a high level of progressive rock music. But also the remainder of Matuchniak's solo debut is certainly worthwhile listening to, especially because of the strong line-up. All of the aforementioned names deliver outstanding achievements. I have to compliment Peter Matuchniak for recording a fine solo album including different musical styles. Recommended to lovers of progressive rock music in general, but in particular to those who fancy Pink Floyd.

Matuchniak is on something of an upwards trajectory after many years away from the music scene. His two band projects are making a bit of a noise and on the evidence of this first solo release there are plenty more ideas competing for attention. Uncover Me provides an engaging and multi-faceted view of a musician who has been known to refer to himself as The Various Artist. There is plenty to enjoy on this album, including more than a few songs that are well having in one's musical collection. A fine effort and one that lays down a solid foundation for future musical endeavours.

The signature expression of the depth of composition, and Matuchniak as integral player, come on the two pieces closest to prog, Falling Ash and Rising, the two parts of Burning Landscape. In between there's the addition of some rather deft saxophone work from Conor Jonson on several songs, most notable Across the Pond and Down in New Orleans. For pure melodic rock accessibility Running Back to You is primo material, and vocalist Natalie Azerad's best performance. Overall, Peter Matuchniak's Uncover Me is a versatile and delightful platter of melodic progressive rock, created by a talented and inventive musician. Easily recommended.

Throughout “Uncover Me” Matuchniak’s guitar is confident in a variety of styles. The voices of Ted Zahn and Natalie Azerad and powerful yet never obstructive, and the bass of Rick Meadows is strident and self-assured. Jimmy Keegan, drummer for Spock’s Beard, holds these elements together with percussion that is solid yet volatile when necessary. David Gilman and Conor Jonson on flute and saxophone provide the perfect distraction in an album that is both unified, yet not in any way formulaic. And for that reason, among many, “Uncover Me” deserves repeated listening and careful consideration.