Exposé Online banner

Persona Grata — Reaching Places High Above
((Not on label) no#, 2013, CD)

by Henry Schneider, 2014-02-18:

Reaching Places High Above Cover art New progressive bands keep popping up from some of the most unlikeliest of places. Case in point is the new band Persona Grata from Bratislava, Slovakia. The band is a sextet of guitars, keys, bass, drums, flute, and vocals and Reaching Places High Above is their self-released debut album. The album has six songs clocking in at about 50 minutes, an impressive first shot! The music itself is a blend of high energy power chords, frantic playing, and some very peaceful and almost bucolic moments. Many of the songs go through shifts in mood and tempo that work surprisingly well without being pretentious. Their vocalist Martin Stavrovskỳ does an admirable job with the English lyrics, it is near perfect with only a slight accent. At times his voice reminds me of former System of a Down’s front man Serj Tankian. The disc opens with some excellent energetic guitar, driving bass lines, frenetic drums, and intense synths/keys. The band made some intelligent choices in the sequencing of the tracks as the second song provides a nice respite with peaceful guitar and flute solo before picking up the pace. There are even some tasteful harpsichord passages in “Orient Express” and “Venice.” And the 14 minute closing track “I Am You” begins with a slow ambient intro that eventually shifts into high gear with different keyboard sounds interacting with the guitars. Persona Grata is getting a lot of recognition and awards in Slovakia, and I expect that we will be hearing more from them on this side of the pond.

by Jon Davis, 2013-12-23:

I suppose for many listeners, the further from relatable influences music gets, the harder it is to describe. I'm beginning to think the opposite is true for me. Persona Grata in some ways is much more like mainstream progressive rock (if there is such a thing) than much of what I listen to, so I find it hard to come up with words to describe it — how to differentiate it from any number of other bands in the same general area. When I first gave Reaching Places High Above a listen, I was mostly struck by how proggy it was, with big keyboards, multi-part suites, and some complexity to the arrangements. It took a while for things to stand out against the dense background. Like most modern progressive bands, they are clearly inspired by some of the genre's pioneers (they mention Yes and Jethro Tull) along with some bands of later generations (Dream Theater, Muse). The question is: do they bring anything of their own to the table? Aside from having a solid command of the tools of the prog trade, they do add some nice touches of their own, especially with the addition of flute and female vocals (though Martin Stavrosky handles the bulk of the singing). When they delve into the kind of heavy hyperactive density associated with Dream Theater (which they really don't do that often), these other factors really serve to keep the music interesting. The use of non-musical sources like field recordings also brings in variety. The quality of the compositions is what makes it all work, though. There's an odd section in "Orient Express" where the music stops and it sounds like you're in a bar with a bunch of talking and drinking going on, then you're hearing a harpsichord and a flute — for a moment, before the rest of the band comes in for an odd-meter workout. According to the band's website, the lead guitarist and keyboard player from Reaching Places High Above have since left the band, so their next release will feature a different lineup.

Filed under: New releases , 2013 releases

Related artist(s): Persona Grata

More info

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

French TV - Virtue in Futility – French TV hails from Louisville, KY and has a handful of releases to their name since their inception in the early/mid-80s. Led by bassist Mike Sary, they play an aggressive, complex, and somewhat...  (1994) » Read more

Miriodor - Jongleries Élastiques – For their fourth album (fifth if you count the cassette that came out between the first and second), Miriodor has again pulled out a long list of surprises. Their sound is rooted in the chamber rock...  (1996) » Read more

Chas Smith - Nakadai – For lack of a better term, let’s say that when we produce or listen to sounds that an instrument was not principally designed to generate, we are playing or hearing “beyond the instrument.”...  (2009) » Read more

Steve Roach - Kairos: The Meeting of Time and Destiny – Subtitled The Meeting of Time and Destiny, this package includes a 74 minute CD and companion DVD that feature essentially the same audio program: eight tracks mixing floating ambient dreamlike...  (2007) » Read more

Mandibulbe - Praxis – This French instrumental quartet brings a lot of influences to the table, although refined and presented in a fresh and progressive way. The band’s main composer is guitarist Guillaume Fenoy,...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues