Hailing from Poland, the neo-prog group Quidam released its first album in 1996 and quickly won both specialized press and audiences over. The angelic voice of singer Emila Derkowska and the group's ample use of flute in its arrangements secured it a respectable place alongside Collage and Abraxas in what has been called the '90s Polish contingent of neo-proggers.
In 1991, guitarist Maciek Meller, bassist Radek Scholl, and drummer Rafal Jermakow, then all 18 and 19 years old, formed the hard rock/blues trio Deep River and began to play bars all around Poland. They were soon joined by keyboardist Zbyszek Florek and cycled through a number of singers until they found Emila Derkowska in 1993. The arrival of flutist Ewa Smarzynska provided the impetus to shift the musical direction toward a more symphonic sound. Songs grew slightly more complex, but the group still wanted to appeal to wide audiences and thus the music developed around the neo-prog axis of IQ, Camel, and late-period Pink Floyd. At this point the name was changed to Quidam, a Latin word meaning "someone" but here making specific reference to a poem by Kamil Norwid.
Quidam's live shows, fronted by the charismatic Derkowska, gained local fame. In April 1996, at the first festival of Polish prog rock, the group unveiled its eponymous debut, featuring its now classic tracks "Sanktuarium" and "Ptone." Released by the local label Ars Mundi, the album slowly trickled out of Poland and garnered favorable reviews. It featured guest appearances and songwriting credits from members of Collage. The group made its first international appearance in Holland in January 1997, building a following there and in France. Two nights in April that same year, Derkowska and Smarzynska were invited to perform the overture of Harbour of Tears on-stage with Camel. Three months later, the group performed at the festival ProgLive '97 in Corbigny (France).
In early 1998, Smarzynska called it quits and was replaced by Jacek Zasada, only weeks before the recording sessions for Sny Aniolow started. The album was released by Rock-Serwis in Poland and Musea in France, the latter under the title Angels' Dreams with re-recorded English vocals. Despite a more pop-oriented sound, the specialized press remained very encouraging and in March of 1999, Quidam made its first overseas trip to headline the third Baja Prog festival in Mexicali, Mexico. Meanwhile, the relationship between Quidam and Camel developed in unexpected ways as bassist Colin Bass hired the group to open for him and back him up during his European tour promoting his solo album Outcast of the Islands.
Things slowed down for the next two years as the group prepared its third studio album, performing live only sparsely in Europe. Pod Niebem Czas came out in March 2002 on Rock-Serwis and three months later on Musea under the title The Time Beneath the Sky (although the vocals were not re-recorded this time). ~ François Couture