Listen Carefully: Musical Abundance in 2014
An album cover made of the blood of its lead musician, music celebrities replaced by artists who won't reveal their names or where they come from, and an ethnographer who compiled folk songs, tales and proverbs 200 years ago.
While Witold Lutosławski dominated 2013 with his sustained pedal on the piano, 2014 brings us composer and conductor Andrzej Panufik (1914 - 1991) and ethnographer, folklorist, and composer Oskar Kolberg (1814 - 1890). Celebrating the legacy of Kolberg with folk traditions and values moves us away from the city-centric perspective into the rural areas of Poland. Just as folk culture originates in small communities, instead of the boastful Warsaw National Opera House, the inauguration of the Year of Kolberg will take place in the tiny village of Przysucha, where the artist was born 200 years ago.
The Anonymous Tradition
Like the authors of folk songs, carols and legends whom we only know by the location in which they lived, not their identity, RSS B0YS, the 21st century electronic music duo took it a step further. The mysterious faces behind the decorative veils reveal no more than their "names" - RSS BOY ONE and RSS BOY TWO. We don't know where they are from either. While their music is based in the realm of trance with recordings of African and Arabic music sometimes surfacing in the background, it is most accurately defined as contemporary electronic. They have announced the release of two albums in 2014: the first (on cassette) to be released shortly by Sangoplasmo Records, and the second (on vinyl) to be released by Monotype Records at an unknown time of the year.
Death Metal Celebrities
2014 will bring with it a new album by Behemoth (called "The Satanist'', coming out on the 4th of February), a band led by Polish metal music celebrity Adam Darski aka Nergal. The album cover presents a painting by the Russian painter and occultist Denis Forkas using Nergal's blood and in their own words "Our sounds and words on the album are like a huge phallus that brutally rapes every taboo concept or sanctity".
'The Satanist'' was mixed by Matt Hyde (producer for Slayer and No Doubt) and mastered by Ted Jensen (who worked with Megadeath, Erik Clapton and Madonna) at the New York Sterling Sound studio.
Contemporary music fans will be moved by what the Experimental Studio of Polish Radio has in stock for them: the first ever compilation of songs by legendary composer and sound engineer Eugeniusz Rudnik. One of the first producers of electro-acoustic music in Poland, and the co-creator of the so-called Polish school of electro-acoustic music, he collaborated with outstanding Polish artists on music installations and film soundtrack production (Krzysztof Penderecki, Andrzej Markowski, Włodzimierz Kotoński, Bogusław Schaeffer).
Watch the end of the video to see a man in his 80ties scratch and spin. The album, called ERdady na taśmę / ERdady for tape [editor's translation], is brought out by Requiem Records and hits stores beginning of February.
Good Old Rojek
The ex-lead singer and guitarist of the rock band Myslovitz and founder of Lenny Valentino - a Polish band from the 90s, Artur Rojekt, is going solo.
His début album will appear in spring. The video teaser tells us one thing - he's still got a lot of work to do.
Contemporary Polish Music Makes Its Way Into the World
During "his year" Lutosławski featured in concert halls throughout the world, but will 2014 live up to such high standards? Music by Polish composers will be performed at the Chelthenham and the Presteigne Festivals, the British public will listen to Lutosławski's ''Grave'', Preludia taneczne i Partita / Dance Preludes and Partita and the compositions of Maciej Zieliński ''Lutosławski in Memoriam. When it comes to Andrzej Panufik, whose 100th birth anniversary is celebrated this year, audiences will hear his ''Sinfonia Concertante'', ''Landscape'', III String Quartet, ''Song to the Virgin Mary''), as well as Grażyna Bacewicz's Concert for String Quartet, Two Etudes and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki's Już się zmierzcha. Kwartet smyczkowy nr 1 / It's Getting Dark. String Quartet.
In the Shoes of the Rappers
Hip-hop fans won't know what hit them this year. Almost all noteworthy Polish hip-hop artists - Peja, Eldo, O.S.T.R. z Marco Polo (see video), Małolat, Kaen as well as Borixon and Cleo with Donatan, are bringing out new albums.
It gets better: Kaliber 44, Polish psycho-rap legend is also introducing the world to a new album.
H. M. Górecki's IV Symphony
''The composition is ready and will ring out in April 2014''
Anna Górecka, the composer's daughter said last year. The piece will be performed at the London Royal Festival Hall by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Andrey Boreyki. The trzejkompozytorzy.pl website (dedicated to Lutosławski, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki) reads,
The international success of Gorecki's III Symphony in the mid nineties left the entire musical world waiting for his next symphonic work. Years went by, the composer reassured that he is working on the piece, and finally - in April 2010 – the first performance was even announced to take place in London. In the end none of these plans took effect - no one saw the final piece until after Górecki's death. Finally, it turned out that the symphony actually existed. The composer's daughter found a finalised, shortened score, i.e. a piano excerpt with precisely marked dispositions regarding the orchestration and markings of the dynamic and the tempo. Based on the pointers of the father, the score was written down by his son, Mikołaj, and everything points to the fact that the IV Symfonia ''Tansman Episodes'' will be performed for the first time in 2014.
In the 2015/16 season Górecki's "new" symphony will be played by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and at a series of concerts of the Zaterdag Matinee in Amsterdam.
New Old River
Kuba Ziołek is one of the most prolific musicians of the Polish indie scene. Just last year he released (among others) an album with his progressive guitar Alameda Trio, the ritualistic T’ien Lai and Stara Rzeka (Old River) which fused elements of black metal, blues and country style finger-picking, the sound of overpowering drones and countless other inspirations. Last year The Quietus ranked the Stara Rzeka album higher than Kanye West's.
Stara Rzeka brings out a new album in 2014. Another one of Ziołek's projects will be a new album with Rafał Iwański (project Kapital) set for February 2014 by Bocian Records & Sangoplasmo.
Several long-expected premieres. Eugeniusz Knapik's ''Moby Dicka'', "an adventure intertwined with rich, biblical symbolism [...]," Knapik disclosed, "about the fate of the human being, his relations with God, Nature and Destiny" directed by Barbara Wysocka, libretto written by poet Krzysztof Koehler, premieres in April. Coming out in May in Warsaw is a new opening of Projekt P with Sławomir Wojciechowski (''Zwycięstwo nad słońcem'' / "Victory over the sun", libretto by Marcin Cecko) and Marcin Stańczyk (''Solarize'', libretto by Andrzej Szpindler) replacing last year's Jagoda Szmytka and Wojtek Blecharz, still directed by Krzysztof Garbaczewski.
Last but not least, David Poutney directs Mieczysław Weinberg's "Passenger" at the Lincoln Center in New York.
Is that all?
Last year there was a lot of talk about the return of portable music players (vinyls and cassettes more than CDs). To that effect meetings of small independent labels and fairs were organised. What will the tireless publishers come up with in 2014?
BDTA (read "Biedota") normally brings out a limited number of albums (no more than a dozen). Simultaneously it has announced the release of albums by artists who have been setting the pace of the Polish indie scene for some years now: Bartek Kujawski's radio play, Iron Noir (co-created by Wojtek Kucharczyk and Łukasz Dziedzica AKA Lugozi) and the industrial Ghost of Breslau. Add to that a concert by Mirta and TER from the last Unsound festival.
This small records label is headed by Grzegorz Tyszkiewicz - an important figure of the Polish industrial music scene in the 80s and 90s. He returns to the game today, performing as a DJ, remixing shunned, damaged test-pressed disks brought out by his label. Bocian Records has made it big in Australia and Japan where their vinyls (the label's speciality) are regularly played.
2014 brings with it new innovations: Bocian will start a new series called "TAPES". First on the list are the "OSLO TAPES" featuring a duet by Lasse Marhaug & Mats Gustafsson, next up are a solo album by the turntabalist eRikaM, a duet by Joke Lanz and Hristian Weber i.e. the ''BERLIN TAPES'', and finally Martin Tetraut on the ''MONTREAL TAPES''. Additional albums will feature the world leaders in noise - Kevin Drumm, Russell Hasswell, Rogalio Sosa.
For many years Bôłt Records has been consistently presenting its narration of contemporary music to the world. This year they will broaden their musical horizons with albums by Andrzej Bieżan (a fascinating and forgotten composer known as the creator of "intuitive music" who died 30 years ago in a car accident), Małe Instrumenty / Small Instruments (an album inspired by the musical creations of the Experimental Studio) and a cassette of the rebellious tape recording connoisseurs - the band Sultan Hagavik.
The label can also boast about their expertise in the field of poetry. This year they plan on bringing out 4 volumes i.e. 4 albums with the recordings of the Polish poet, prose writer, playwright Miron Białoszewski - ''Do słuchu''.
Like in previous years, DUX will not waver in its mission to spread classical music. This year's sales items include an album by the accordion player Maciej Frąckiewicz (with compositions by Bach, Gubaidulina and Penderecki), piano pieces by Krzysztof Meyer performed by Marek Szlezer, an album by Baltic Neopolis Orchestra with the saxophonist Alina Mleczko playing songs by Polish composers. Sinfonietta Cracovia and the clarinet player Roman Licznerski under Szymon Bywalec will record clarinet concerts by Mozart, Francais and Podkowa. The Filharmonia Pomorska from Bydgoszcz under Marek Pijarowski will record the compositions of Karol Szymanowski: I Violin Concert, III Symphony and the Concert Ouverture. Further plans include an album with works by Andrzej Panufnik.
For Tune Records
They appeared on the Polish market out of nowhere and they are bringing out large numbers of albums. In 2013 they released 24 albums! Their tunes are mainly fixed in jazz (the catalogue includes Wacław Zimpel, Marcin Masecki, Bester Quartet, Piotr Damasiewicz and the great classics - Anthony Braxton, William Parker), but they don't shy away from contemporary (Mateusz Ryczek to name but one). Their 2014 plans include recording a new project by Wacław Zimpel (To Tu Orchestra), 3D (Dąbrowski, Drury, Davis) and an album with music by Krzysztof Knittel.
Since 2005, they have been satisfying the public's need for experimental and improvised music. Their next undertakings include a vinyl of the RSS B0YS, an album by Wojtek Kucharczyk, a vinyl by the duet Pokorski&Fischerle (don't miss out on reading about digital sound finally reaching the point of satiation and artists returning to old analog equipment), a CD by the mysterious project GAAP KVLT, the long awaited CD by Komory A, an album made by the recently deceased Zbigniew Karkowski with Brian O’Reilly and a vinyl by the synthesiser aficionado Mirta, who is earning his rightful place in the world of electronic music.
Out of the most interesting débuts released by Monotype is the project We Fill Fail - slow-paced and disquieting techno inspired by contemporary music.
Requiem is making a comeback with a staggering archival series documenting the activities of the Polish underground movements in the 80s and 90s. To name a few, the 2014 Requiem Records releases Bex Lala (''None of the founding members could read sheet music nor play an instrument. It was a pure-as-the-driven snow punk rock band''), Kirkut-Koncept (''Although the band doesn't have any direct imitators, it's worth noticing, that with their ideas the Kirkuts were ahead of their times, they were - minding the different proportions - the precursors of a type of music that become famous only later, for example, the series of CDs of the Radical Jewish Culture in the U.S. or the new Jewish scene that surfaced around Raphael Rogiński in Poland''), Francis Picabia (''In the absurd texts and minimalistic compositions performed using unconventional sets of instruments Kubicki and Pawlikowski were releasing the specific atmosphere of Nowa Huta in the mid 80ties of the last century").
Last year S1 released a superb EP by the Krakow based producer Chino and a re-edition of ''Niewidzialna nerka'' - a mix tape variation or even homage to the beginnings of hip-hop in Poland. This year will see ''Christophe Komeda Reworked'', a reinterpretation of the classical compositions of the Krzysztof Komeda in a new, electronic parlance.
U Know Me Records
The first half of the year brings with it two albums from the label - Mister Krime and Night Marks Electric Trio. Mixed by Buszkers and Groh, foreboding bits and pieces can already be heard on the web.
Author: Filip Lech, translated with edits by Mai Jones 15.01