CDs, Vinyls & Games: The Legend of the Polish Radio Experimental Studio Continues
default, Cover of the 'PRES Rebooted' CD, photo: The Wire, center, wire.jpg
A CD with songs based on samples from the Polish Radio Experimental Studio, two double vinyl albums with reissued PRES songs, and two games inspired by the Warsaw studio. What else is new with the legacy of that legendary studio?
Subscribers of the monthly magazine The Wire will receive with their June issue (out in paper on 7th May, in digital on 12th May) a CD (or digital copy) of PRES Rebooted. It contains 12 songs based on samples taken from the works of Elżbieta Sikora, Krzysztof Knittel and Ryszard Szeremeta. Some of them were commissioned by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (Jlin, Matmos, Mouse on Mars, Wojciech Kucharczyk, Bartosz Weber, Skalpel, Jacek Sienkiewicz, We Will Fail). Others were the top winners of the Culture.pl and The Quietus contest held last year (Synthezaur, Kamil Szuszkiewicz, Lutto Lento, Krew). This is the third album related to the Warsaw radio studio, which thanks to the Adam Mickiewicz Institute will be given to readers of the British magazine – in 2017, subscribers received a selection of the experimental studio's most famous compositions, while in 2018, they were presented with contemporary reinterpretations of work from PRES by Polish pioneers of electronic music.
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Founded in 1982, The Wire is one of the most opinion-forming magazines dedicated to all genres of independent, experimental and jazz music. The motto of these British journalists is 'Adventures in Sound and Music'. The circulation of the magazine is around 20,000 copies, with 6,000 of them including the newly-pressed CD (meanwhile, there are 9,000 digital copies).
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Recordings made at the PRES have been reappearing on CD for several years, but getting them onto vinyl is a bit of a miracle. Original issues can cost several hundreds of euros at auction. There have been no vinyl re-issues in years, only two unreleased pieces by Eugeniusz Rudnik appeared: Moulin Diabolique recorded in the French studio Groupe de Recherches Musicales (Recollection GRM, 2014) and Warsaw's Vocals (Fylkingen Records, 2016). In the autumn of 2020, this publishing gap will come to an end. The label Another People, run by Nicolas Jaar, is preparing two double albums called Would It Sound Just as Bad, If You Played It Backwards?. The title of the compilation comes from a legendary statement made by Soviet delegates visiting the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 1965. Eugeniusz Rudnik presented the technical possibilities of the studio, giving them fragments of various works. Their reaction to the music composed in PRES was to be this biting remark.
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The CDs compiled by Nicolas Jaar will contain not only the most famous compositions from the Warsaw studio. From the monumental works that form the PRES canon from today's perspective, we will of course hear Study For One Cymbal Stroke by Włodzimierz Kotoński, Canti by Bohdan Mazurek, Epitaph of Stones by Eugeniusz Rudnik and two fragments from Symphony: Electronic Music by Bogusław Schaeffer performed by Bohdan Mazurek and Wolfram.
Another People also delved into some almost completely forgotten work by the composers associated with PRES. Their selection will present works by: Magdalena Długosz, a distinguished lecturer who at one time cooperated with universities in Stockholm, Bratislava, Lyon and Bourges (Yes and No and Mictlan I); the Cracovian composer Barbara Zawadzka (the Grey series); the creator of many stage works Bernadetta Matuszczak (Libera Me); and Elżbieta Sikora, long-time director of the Wrocław festival Musica Electronica Nova (known from the Bôłt albums Secret Poems and V/A Blanc et Rouge). We will also hear two pieces by Krzysztof Knittel: Lapis and Poko.
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We will also hear music from PRES in two new online games Bogusław Schaeffer: Sound Memory Game by Magdalena Paluch and Odgłos (Sounds) by Agata Nawrot and Sebastian Krzyszkowiak. The premiere of the games will take place later in 2020.
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The former is a simple game of memory, with the player's task being to match same-sounding sound fragments. The sounds come from the legendary Symphony: Electronic Music. After combining identical samples, we see a fragment of Schaeffer's score. This is not the first interactive work based on this composition. In the Apparatum installation created by the panGenerator collective, we are able to rearrange the notation symbols invented by the composer and create our own song.
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What makes this composition so unique? Schaeffer wanted to avoid presenting on paper a total and single possible interpretation of his work. He wanted to create a 'bridge between the numerically specific form of music and its equivalent expression', namely notation connecting the composer and the performer-interpreter of their score. We can find the exact passage of time in it, but the composer reserves that these are approximate values, except for those fragments in which synchronisation with other parts is important – here there is no question of arbitrariness. Schaeffer stated that 'the version made in Warsaw's Polish Radio Experimental Studio is one of the possible versions, it is also the central, main version in the composer's own sense', but at the same time each subsequent interpretation should raise different aesthetic and auditing-receiving issues. Bohdan Mazurek, the first producer of this score, claimed that 'the awareness of this state of affairs allows the producer to release his own sound fantasy and his own musical ideas'.
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Polish Radio Experimental Studio
contemporary electronic music
polish electronic music
Odgłos is an attempt to translate the experimental process of creating music into the language of a game. The hero of this journey is a small owl doll looking for friends missing in other dimensions. Tracked by a shape-shifting snake, it must reach the Polish Radio Experimental Studio where the universe's control centre is located. The game uses sounds from the PRES sample database available for download from the Ableton Live website.
Originally written in Polish, Apr 2020, translated by AZ, Apr 2020
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