Composer, musician, producer – for the past few years one of the most original artists of Polish electronic, electro-acoustic, avant-garde music.
Michał Jacaszek, who performs and records under the moniker ‘Jacaszek’, has recorded several albums. He creates illustrative music for poetry and prose, radio plays, and theatre and film, and collaborates with musicians, choreographers, new media artists, and performers, as well as painters, poets, and writers. Jacaszek is one of the curators of the Club Contemporary Classical (C3) Festival and a member of the Polish Society for Electroacoustic Music.
Working as a sound engineer for the University of Toruń's Radio Sfera (1997-2003), he began his experiments with electronically-generated sound. This led to numerous radio programmes that included his music, and lyrics read by local poets. In the late '90s, he staged his first live performances. This early period was documented by two self-released CDR albums, Wiersze Zmieszane and Rocznik Dźwiękowy.
In 2002, Jacaszek began an artistic partnership with poet and singer, Miłka Malzahn, producing her album Mapa. That same year, he released his first solo album with the respected independent label, Gusstaff Records. Lo-Fi Stories combined electronically processed instruments (with Jacaszek playing guitar, violin, percussion) with synthesizers and samples taken mostly from vintage children's records. The result was highly original, both fragile and dreamy, and with a slightly absurd sense of humour.
In 2005, Jacaszek created Lem Konzept, a project commissioned by Radio Copernicus, a sort of radio play based on Bajki Robotów / Mortal Engines by renowned Polish sci-fi writer, Stanisław Lem.
Another album with Miłka Malzahn, Sequel appeared in 2005, offering catchy songs based on steady, almost club-like electronic beats.
In 2006, Jacaszek started collaborating with Stefan Wesołowski, violinist, arranger and composer of church music. After two years of work, Kompleta CD/DVD was released, including a composition based on Catholic prayers, written for string quartet, two voices and electronics. A few months earlier, Wesołowski arranged strings for Treny, Jacaszek's second solo album. This record, quiet and minimalistic, uses silence as an integral part of the music, and was released simultaneously by Gusstaff and the well-known Miasmah Records from Norway. Treny was received enthusiastically by the music press all over the world, eventually showing well in many end-of-the-year charts for both classical and electronic music.
Jacaszek's next album was Pentral (2009). Playing on the borders of ambient and musique concrete, the album attempts to recreate the spiritual ambience of a sacred space, and is based on field recordings from the interiors of several Gothic churches.
In 2011, his next album, Glimmer, was released by the American record label Ghostly International. Jacaszek intertwined electroacoustic sounds with vivid harpsichord and clarinet melodies, giving the whole an atmosphere on the border of Baroque and contemporary. His following album, 2013’s Pieśni (Songs, trans. MG), was released thanks to cooperation with the National Centre for Culture and is a collection of Jacaszek’s interpretations of traditional religious melodies. It was very well received by critics and music journalists.
His collaboration with Kwartludium resulted in an album entitled Catalogue Des Arbres (2014). The musicians focused on the idea of the musical reproduction and artistic processing of the sounds of nature. Piano transcriptions of bird songs done by prominent French 20th-century composer Olivier Messiaen served as their initial inspiration.
Jacaszek also cooperated with Mikołaj Trzaska and Tomasz Budzyński, with whom he recorded Rimbaud (2015), released by Gusstaff Records and inspired by the works of the titular poet. Jacaszek and Budzyński met once again in 2016. During the Dekonstrukcja Legendy: Prolog Jarocin Festiwal 2016 (Deconstruction of a Legend. Jarocin Festival 2016 Prologue, trans. MG) concert they presented electronic arrangements of pieces from Armia’s second album Legenda (Legend, trans. MG). A recording of their concert was later released by the National Centre for Culture.
In 2017, his next album Kwiaty (Flowers, trans. MG) was released. It was recorded together with singer Hania Malarowska, who Jacaszek met during work on the music for Eliza Kubarska’s film Baltoro Passage. A year later, the premiere of Bramy Nieba (Gates of Heaven, trans. MG) took place in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. It was the culmination of a joint project in progress from 2016, realised by Jacaszek and Vocal Varshe (now called Vox Varshe). The album was awarded with the Grand Prix of the Nowa Tradycja Festival 2018. Stutthof: Apel Cieni (Stutthof. Assembly of Shadows, trans. MG) is another poignant part of Jacaszek’s discography. It is a studio recording of a concert performed in October 2018 in Nazi German concentration camp Stutthof, based on the works of the prisoners of the camp.
Jacaszek has performed in China, the United States, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Slovakia, Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Russia, as well as at the most important festivals in Poland: Off Festival, Tauron Nowa Muzyka, Unsound Festival, Astigmatic, Festiwal Ambientalny, Heineken Opener Festival, and Męskie Granie.
Jacaszek also writes music for film and theatre. He received the Grand Prix of the Dwa Teatry Festival in 2009 for music he composed for Television Playhouse’s (Teatr Telewizji) play Wrocław’s Golgotha directed by Jan Komasa. He also composed music for the performances 2084 and Showtime directed by Michał Siegoczyński and for Marc Silver’s There Is No Others There Is Only Us, the documentary You Will Never Come Back Home by Jolanta Krysowata, and the feature film Suicide Room by Jan Komasa. His film score for November by Reiner Sarnet was awarded at the International Film Festival Listapad in Minsk in 2017. Jacaszek’s music for the short film Aamir was nominated for a 2018 BAFTA Award.
- Lo Fi Stories (Gusstaff, 2004),
- Mapa (Offmusic, 2004; billed as a solo record of Miłka Malzahn),
- Sequel (Gusstaff, 2005; as Jacaszek&Miłka),
- Kompleta (Kompleta, 2008),
- Treny (Gusstaff/Miasmah, 2008),
- Pentral (Gusstaff, 2009),
- Glimmer (Ghostly International, 2011),
- Pieśni (National Centre for Culture, 2013)
- Jacaszek & Kwartludium: Catalogue Des Arbres (Touch, 2014)
- Jacaszek, Budzyński, Trzaska: RIMBAUD (Gustaff, 2015)
- Jacaszek, Budzyński: Legenda (National Centre for Culture, 2017)
- Michał Jacaszek, Hania Malarowska: Kwiaty (Ghostly International, Requiem Records, 2017)
- Vocal Varshe & Jacaszek: Bramy Nieba (Requiem Records, 2018)
- Tomasz Budzyński, Dariusz Budkiewicz, Michał Jacaszek and Rafał Nowak: Stutthof. Apel Cieni (Stutthof Museum in Sztutowo, 2018).
Artist's website: jacaszek.com
Author: Maciej Sienkiewicz, November 2010; update: MG, July 2019.