Musically, their work cannot be reduced to hardcore, metal, or punk. Kinsky explores Baroque, jazz, and contemporary music, wanting the listener to participate in a free play of imagination, juggling symbols and associations.
The group was established in 1992 in Warsaw by four students of philosophy at University of Warsaw. The singer, Paulus von Kinsky, born Paweł Sulik in Słupsk, had previously been in two bands: Multicide, created in April 1995 by musicians associated with Komuna Otwock, and Partizan. In 2015 Sulik recollected in an interview conducted by Paweł Gawlik for Gazeta Wyborcza:
From the very beginning, the band was a devised project. It wasn’t musicians that met – it was rather a group of people who were cheeky enough to criticise everything around them and imagine that everything could be done better. In our philosophical studies we got to know concepts tackling human nature as such – this served as a natural fertiliser for discussion.
Kinsky is one of the legends of the Polish 1990s hardcore scene. Once censorship was halted, a huge number of independent bands was created, underground music was presented in public television, places where one could copy cassette tapes were thriving, and independent concerts in smaller cities were attracting huge crowds. Kinsky’s sound was different than that of the other representatives of the genre – it was open. The trouble journalists and listeners had classifying the quartet’s music was enjoyable for the artists.
They had basic instruments. The guitarist, Tony Kinsky (Tomasz Lewandowski) later played bass in Dezerter (1994-1999). Artur von Kinsky (Artur Koczergo) was Kinsky’s bass player, and Czubek (Arkadiusz Jeremacz), who would later co-operate with John Porter, played drums. Kinsky invited graphics artists and painters, such as Grzegorz Pleszyński or Artur Dynowski, to collaborate.
Their uncompromising music left plenty of space for audience participation, and the artists enriched their concerts by performative or theatrical actions; they took care of scenography, visuals, and even smells. They would dress up and encourage or provoke the viewers to interact with them, to co-create the stage experience. As Sulik himself narrated it:
We would often use the element of surprise, for instance the light would suddenly go out and we’d hand something to the audience; that something, once the light was on again, turned out to be chicken livers dripping with blood. We tied the audience with a rope to force it to react. We also read and handed out manifestos to breach with the concert formula. … Kinsky exploited occult and satanistic elements, and we were fascinated with the Enlightenment vision of man and the human body. We were not disputing this – the universe is infinite, and you are part of it, able to realize yourself in many fascinating ways.
In March 1992 the band recorded four songs in Gold Rock Studio. Robert Brylewski was the producer. Thanks to these pieces, the band’s concerts gained momentum and attracted the attention of record companies. In December 1993, Kinsky’s first record, Copula Mundi, was released. The album was available in the West, which resulted in concerts abroad. With time, the release became one of the most desired albums among collectors in the history of Polish rock music.
Among nearly 150 concerts, the one in Jarocin seems to be the most crucial – Kinsky was the festival’s guest of honour in 1994. It was the last edition before the suspension of the festival for the subsequent ten years. In the 1980s, Jarocin was not only the birthplace of numerous important bands, but also the place where an entire generation of music listeners was raised.
The band also went on tours of Germany, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine, and Austria, played at Industry Art Festival in Geneva, and in January 1995 entered the studio to record new songs. However, their concerts were suspended in 1996 due to their high cost, and soon after they finished their work in the studio – the material was never published, though.
In 2015 Kinsky returned to the stage, giving their first concert in Hydrozagadka in Warsaw, and then, among others, at OFF Festival in Katowice. Bass player Artur Koczergo was replaced by Tomecki (Tomasz Bandyra); the rest of the line-up was the same. For that occasion, the single 92.96.15 was released. It comprised three songs recorded in, respectively, 1992, 1996, and 2015. Corpula Mundi was reissued on vinyl, and the 1997 material Praeterito Futurum is to be published.
In December 2015, Kinsky composed and recorded the song Inteligencja nie ma być tępiona lecz przeflancowana, inspired by Witkacy’s work, for the National Centre for Culture.
When not playing in the band, Paweł Sulik also hosts a radio programme on TOK FM Radio. The remaining musicians work as sound technicians for concerts. As a result, Kinsky’s live sound is flawless, and the performative aspect of the concerts is even stronger than in the 1990s. The music scene has become more predictable and less engaged, and Kinsky, once again, bring the energy of the times with chaos and enthusiasm.
- 1993 – Copula Mundi
- 2015 – 92.96.15 (single)
author: Jacek Świąder, translated by Natalia Sajewicz July 2016