They range from spaghetti western lovers to 70-year-olds wearing musketeer costumes: the Polish music scene has some truly remarkable oddballs. Since strangeness is relative, our readers get to vote for who's weirdest.
Table of contents: Vote Now! | Mitch & Mitch | Łąki Łan | Snowid | Small Instruments | Gaaba Kulka | Bokka | Troubadoures |
Poland has a prolific history of the use of the absurd in art. During the communist period it was the best way to mislead censors and speak the truth or to mock the unbearable reality of the times. Even though those times of censorship are far-gone there is still a substantial group of artists whose image may seem rather… weird.
Genre: spaghetti western
Trademark attributes: Texas-American language, a Rubber Chicken.
Mitch & Mitch is much more than just a band. It is the state of mind of its leaders (all nicknamed Mitch or similar), and a performance group that goes far beyond the boundaries of musical genres. Almost every one of their albums is different to the others. Their début, Luv Yer Country, was a sort of pastiche of country & eastern. 12 Catchy Tunes (We Wish We Had Composed) included some obscure tunes by rather exotic and unknown composers from Japan, Italy and South America.
Soon the group extended their personnel to 9 members and recorded XXII Century Sound Pioneers and Love For Three Cockroaches. Yet, their strange music is not the only thing which makes them eligible for title of Weirdest Band . They never stop performing, even off-stage – for example, speaking Texas-American only, even though it is a well-known fact that they are all Polish. They bring a rubber chicken to their concerts; they invite Zbigniew Wodecki (the often-mocked Polish author of rather cheesy songs and performer of Maya the Bee theme) to accompany them during live shows; they produce insane video clips like Karateporno.
Although, parody and pastiche are always their weapons of choice, Mitch & Mitch play thrilling concerts and are often guests at major international festivals. Tymon Tymański tried to find the borderline between the Dadaist and the professional faces of Mitch & Mitch:
This is one of the most talented crews in Warsaw, which is conceptually perfectly prepared for what they are up to. Their music is deeply rooted in Frank Zappa’s philosophy, in the poetry of Spaghetti Westerns. Do not be fooled by their clownish image!
Read more about Mitch & Mitch...
Read more about their leader - Macio Moretti
Genre: funk, rock, techno, dance
Trademark attributes: everything you can find on a meadow: flowers, fruits, grass, insects…
At first glance, Łąki Łan may appear to be a bunch of oddballs dressed up like insects or animals doing nothing but messing around. Yet nothing could be more wrong! This band combines the most extravagant absurdity with perfectly composed and performed music and, what may be most surprising, deeply meaningful lyrics and a very serious, positive message. Their texts are full of neologisms and homonyms, sometimes seemingly almost incomprehensible but usually speaking about living in accordance with the laws of nature, taking care of other people and respecting one another.
The band is considered the best live act in Polish music, playing wild concerts which stun the audience with uncontrolled bursts of energy and a perfectly designed show. Absurdity is their first love. Sometimes they hand out loads of carrots or baskets of meadow flowers; sometimes they appear with a group of children dressed like bunny rabbits who jump non-stop throughout the whole show; just a few days ago, their leading vocalist, dangling from a zip-line, flew over the audience scattering flower petals… Their concert is a must see for every popular music fan.
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Genre: ritual electro-pop
Trademark attributes: 8 -bit, a viking's beard.
A mysterious producer and vocalist with a Viking–like appearance. His music, based on primeval, extremely simple beats, can be classified as ritual electro-pop. It is perfect for ecstatic dances and shaking your head until it comes off. The vintage, 8-bit sound corresponds with the primitive image and ‘old-school stylized’ video. Is he a true discoverer? Or maybe just another artist with a distinctive look?
Genre: Unidentified, classical, small music
Trademark attribute: Anything that is small and makes some kind of noise.
These six guys are really creative. Since 2006, they’ve been performing music using only the smallest instruments. Their main focus is searching for new ways of implementing professional instruments of small sizes, toy instruments, their own peculiar inventions and a whole bunch of little items which make any kind of noise, into their music.
The outcome is unique. Sometimes it is beautiful and ingenious, exposing a wide spectrum of musical colours. Sometimes it is surprising and exploratory. Sometimes it just reveals the modest potential of simple instruments and makes you laugh at their inability and limits. They perform classical music, their own compositions, covers and quite often blend pieces of poetry into their music (check out their album Antonisz). Recently, they have moved to their workshop and continued to maniacally construct new small instruments.
Read more about Małe Instrumenty...
Genre: pastiche, jazz-metal,
Trademark attributes: varies
Baaba Kulka is a joint venture, consisting of two extraordinary parts: Baaba and Gaba Kulka. Baaba is an avant-garde jazz ensemble founded in the late 1990s to critical acclaim and well-received by the audience. Gaba Kulka is a progressive singer, songwriter and pianist with a very distinctive voice and style impossible to confuse with any other artist, Polish or otherwise. These two parts came together when Baaba members and Gaba found out that they both held the same love for Iron Maiden. Soon they organised a one-off gig of Maiden covers at Warsaw's Hard Rock Café. It turned out that the result was very promising so they stayed together for a couple of years and tours and recorded an album consisting of Maiden’s songs only. How weird is that?
(Listen to Iron Maiden’s classic Number Of The Beast)
The mixture of Gaba and Baaba was so successful that even after Iron Maiden covers theme burned out they immediately started something new: Gaba Kulka + Baaba + Bunio project which is half-paying tribute and half-mocking Polish big beat music from 1960s and 1970s. This pastiche is, however, much more intelligent and humorous than vicious and, when performed live, makes people laugh to the point of tears and dance throughout the whole show.
Read more about Gaba Kulka...
Genre: alternative pop
Trademark attributes: lack of attributes is their trademark attribute
It is time for a breath of fresh air. Bokka is a new unit on the Polish alternative pop scene. So far, we don't know much more. The band consists of X, Y and Mystery Man. They don't have a website, their personalities are mysterious, their faces have never been shown to anyone, there are no bootlegs from live performances. Every time they play live there is a backlit semi-translucent screen spread out in front of the stage and the audience sees only dancing shadows.
What is even more intriguing, Bokka creates very unusual music, full of space, polar atmosphere, heavy synth and reverb. The album is so skilfully composed and produced that there are rumours that X, Y and Mystery Man are in fact some of the best-known Polish producers and musicians. Indeed, the maturity of Bokka is too impressive for a band which debuted a few months ago…
Genre: big beat
Trademark attributes: musketeer costumes, medieval costumes, a huge zither.
Finally it is time for a breath of not so fresh air. Trubadurzy (English – The Troubadours) started playing together in 1963, deep in the times of People’s Republic of Poland (PRL – former, communist name of the Republic of Poland) and never stopped performing. No one knows why they wear those unusual costumes, as they have nothing to do with their lyrics, music or anything else.
They tend to call their music big beat, but it is more close to early Beatles mixed with Italian songs. Although their fame is no longer what it once was, their old friend and co-founder Krzysztof Krawczyk is doing fine, recording with Goran Bregovic and Julio Iglesias a few years ago and probably doing a better job than in his younger times.