Stara Rzeka (Old River) is a one-man project by Kuba Ziołek, in which the multi-instrumentalist from Bydgoszcz moves between black metal, psychedelia and folk.
A one-man project by Kuba Ziołek, multi-instrumentalist from Bydgoszcz.
Stara Rzeka is primarily a bridge over the Wda, delicately incorporating what is human in silence and the vastness of nature. The project was conceived – in its modest scale – as a way to contemplate that place, and what is common between man, the river, the forests and bridges, as well as their unity, in which they are all equal. What remains beyond the romantic, sentimental, ecological and hippie clichés, is the severity of events which ask to be told. Music turns out to be its best transmitter, mainly because the very essence of music belongs to the essence of the river.
– explains Kuba Ziółek.
Cień Chmury Nad Ukrytym Polem / A Shadow of A Cloud Over a Hidden Field was one of the most discussed independent albums released in 2013. It was of interest not only to Polish reviewers; the sound of album resonated all over the world (its biggest success was 12th place on the annual list of the American The Quietus, thanks to which Ziółek surpassed Kanye West). What is unique about Stara Rzeka’s music? It surprises with its unusual combination of (micro) genres and multiple influences: guitar performances in the style of John Fahey’s American primitivism are found along black metal whips, interwoven with the mysterious rumble of drones. These are complemented by intellectual inspirations; Ziółek’s project is largely composed of instrumental fragments, but it also contains vocals, as in the case of Der Ister, or Hölderlin’s Danube poem, and My Only Child from the repertoire of Nico. For some this was a sign of excess typical of the Internet era of eclecticism, which is not justified by the content of the work. Others saw consistency and unusual expressiveness, despite the stylistic (and intellectual) extravagance.
The instrumentals were simple: guitar, effects, MicroKorg synthesiser, minimalist samples recorded with Philicorda organs, drums from the FL Studio, added to some free VST found on the Internet. I don’t know much about recording, so I did everything intuitively, with great ease, and primitive fun. It would not be an exaggeration to say that 30% of this material is compositions, 25% is pressing buttons, 25% is pure coincidence, 15% is looking for the appropriate frequency to ‘complete the picture’, and 5% is going to the shop to get beer and think.
– said Ziółek in an interview with Łukasz Komła
The artist describes the music included in A Shadow of a Cloud... as: ‘magical brutalism’. The second word comes from French (brut – raw, crude) and Le Corbusier’s architectural brutalism. ‘Brutal means everything that violates the categorising intellect’, wrote Ziółek, ‘brutalism is selflessness and diversity’. The first part is a reference and at the same time polemic against magical realism (‘As a denial of Surrealism, Magic Realism contemplates the materiality of things, while simultaneously restoring the sacredness present in it’). In the following sections of his manifesto (available on Facebook), the founder of Stara Rzeka presents his theory of materialism, time, culture and art (among others), drawing on the legacy of Kabbalah, Heidegger and the Frankfurt School.
Kuba Ziółek was born in 1985. He is a multi-instrumentalist (though his main instrument is the guitar), composer and producer. He takes part in projects and bands such as Alameda 5, T’ien Lai, Kapital, Inner City Ensemble, Ed Wood, Kapital and Stara Rzeka. In 2013, he was nominated for the Polityka Passport Award.
- Stara Rzeka – Cień Chmury Nad Ukrytym Polem / A Shadow of a Cloud Over a Hidden Field (CD/ MC/ LP, 2013), Instant Classic/ Few Quiet People
- Stara Rzeka, Innercity Trio, ARRM – Split (MC, 2014), Wounded Knife
- Stara Rzeka, Innercity Ensemble, Hokei – Rock Them (CD, 2014), Lado ABC
- Stara Rzeka – Stara Rzeka (10'', 2014), Infinite Greyscale
Author: Filip Lech, transl. Bozhana Nikolova, May 2015