Pomp Power – Remont Pomp
Remont Pomp is a percussion band which uses everyday objects instead of standard instruments. The exceptionally talented musicians create interesting musical structures on barrels, bottles, wine glasses, and other percussion instruments. Remont Pomp also functions as a therapy group. They have just released their second album in collaboration with Mikołaj Trzaska.
Remont Pomp was founded in 2004 under the Polish Association for Persons with Mental Disabilities ‘Koło’ in Gdańsk. Most of the band members are described by the society as mentally handicapped, they are not able to perform many activities that ‘healthy’ members of our society partake in.
This however does not affect their music in one bit. I listened to Remont Pomp’s first album Złota Platyna (Golden Platinum) (with guest performances by Mikołaj Trzaska and Mike Majkowski), without knowing who is behind the mysterious percussion trash ensemble (trash music refers to making music using objects normally not considered instruments).
The fact that Remont Pomp is comprised of handicapped musicians is only significant for a listener from the point of view of the mode of work that the band employs. I will come back to this later, but first let us focus on music. Musicians from the tri-city band create various aural worlds comprised of strong percussion sounds and nuanced noises made by objects of everyday use. Such diversification of the aural worlds is paradoxically very rare in music nowadays. It is sometimes achieved by contemporary music composers and some improvisation music bands. This kind of wealth of sounds is most commonly offered by electronic music, with its endless arsenal of music sources.
In their music, they often reference ethnic traditions of world music (mostly African), Jazz avant-garde and the broadly understood world of contemporary composition. The opening track, Pomp Power, is an energetic interlude filled with bass drum sounds. This track may as well have been recorded in Luanda or São Paulo (although over there the rhythm would probably be less regular). In Urodziny Imieniny Magdy, we hear smoother sounds: ghostly, slow glissandos, melodies played on wine glasses, and ambient wind instrument sections.
Each piece tells its own story, for instance Volunteers restrospection is a composition dedicated to the volunteers who work with Remont Pomp (this song was created with the support of the volunteer Alexander from Ukraine). The biggest hit on the album is Szybki Straszny Dąb with a fast-paced guitar section whose melody is inspired by the Middle East and Mikołaj Trzaska, whose playing style is hard to confuse with any other saxophonist in the world, especially when he enters the Klezmer-like sounds.
What is the key element of the everyday work of Remont Pomp? Jacek Marciszewski, one of the patron musicians of the band, answers:
It is important to us that each group member participates consciously in all our activities and that we share opinions about each other’s work. We spent four years preparing this album, which features pieces composed after Złota Platyna was recorded. Before we entered the studio, we had several full days worth of rehearsals with Mikołaj Trzaska. We recorded it in one take, where we all played at the same time, except for Mikołaj, who added his parts later.
What does the everyday work of Remont Pomp look like?
We play regular rehearsals twice per week, two and half hours each time, with a break in August. Our rehearsals are not always alike. We usually meet and create new compositions, split into sections which rehearse on their own, and later we record it all together. We sometimes also have rehearsals where we concentrate on the development of the members’ skills, we practice, improvise either altogether or in smaller groups while the rest of us is listening. We also put stress on conversations, we have a discussion before each major concert, international trip, small tour, or recording.
Few 21st century bands can afford this kind of work rhythm, as weekly rehearsals are a luxury only professionals can have. In music reviews, too much attention is often given to the final effect, while the very important aspect of everyday labour is omitted. After all, that is where the extra-musical values, which describe the character of the band, are born and the matter described by critics comes to life.