on 30 June 2009
Like another reviewer on Amazon (US) I feel this is not nearly as compelling as their previous 'People's Spring' album. For me, aside from the aforementioned jazz leanings and the forays into DJ territory with gratuitous 'fx' and dub remixes (which has, over succeeding recordings, further diminished them as another so-generic world music band), more than anything it is the replacement of their 'white voice' (an eerily beautiful 'lost' style of singing in Poland) singer and violinist Katarzyna Szurman who appeared on People's Spring and more extensively on their first album (which I see is now available here via import); I infer it was she who had the original vision for the band (it's of note that Maciej Szajkowski is the only original member now remaining).
With the subsequent reassignment of vocal duties to Maja Kleszcz (who doesn't sing in that style) and Szurman's departure, I feel this band had lost the prime and essential component which made much of 'People's Spring' and the entirety of their first album, the eponymously titled 'Kapela ze wsi Warszawa' such movingly mysterious pieces of music. In particular, the last track of the latter 'Johnny There He Went' touches the heart like a twilight hymn, with soulful/mournful violin duetting with KS's vocals, evoking imagery like grainy films of people who have loved now dead and gone, and places and days lost under the horizons of the setting sun.
All things must have their end I suppose, and the WVB of recent years is ah...a completely different thing: self-consciously tagged as ethno-ambient music -or some such nonsensical term- and seemingly packaged for the dance market.
on 12 August 2012
Bit of factual stuff.
In the years following World War Two folk music was co opted by the Communist Party for their own purposes and it suffered as a result. It became cliched, boring and moribund. Then along came brilliant young musicians like The Warsaw Village Band and, not content with giving Polish folk music the kiss of life, they just plugged it into the national grid and shocked it back into life.
This music isn't for everyone. I gather from my Polish acquaintances that The Warsaw Vllage Band aren't some obscure little cult band back in Poland, they have a pretty huge following, but you're not necessarily going to like this just because you're into Runrig or Capercaillie. You'd be on safer ground if you like Seth Lakeman, he has a similar energy and drive, but it's worth bearing in mind that folk traditions in Eastern Europe can seem quite strange to us in the West and this is very much Polish folk music given a kick in the ass.
I'd recommend this album if you're musical tastes are broad enough to include modern jazz or maybe non-Western music in general. Better still, I'd recommend you sample before you buy. If you're going to like it at all, you're going to love it, but there is a risk you'll find this stuff weird and scary.