This review is from: People's Spring (Audio CD)
People's Spring is a heady concoction, rough-edged and in-your-face, it swirls along spitting and snarling, stoney female harmony vocals are often yelled into the face of the storm of malevolent fiddles, incessant percussion and brass, while dulcimer, hurdy-gurdy and jaw's harp spin in and out songs.
To You Kasiuna opens the album with a long dulcimer intro, to which the band one by one join in, hesitantly at first, drones and percussion, and then trumpet explodes into the scene and the pace quickens and the girls start singing a high-spirited, mesmerising wedding song, the tempo slowing and speeding up, the vocals seemingly out of step with the music, but in the best possible way.
Chassidic Dance is a real delight, as the band whirl us off our feet with a delicious melody and crashing, stamping rhythm.
As songs such as At My Mother's and I Had A Lover play the shadows grow longer and the folk memory of a nation seems to be present over our shoulders. I know that many of the songs concern tales of love and lust but they conjure something more menacing or fantastical in these relentless settings.
One of the album's highlights, A Red Apple creaks slowly into life, moving like a listing log cabin full of memories, cracking and groaning as the temperature outside plummets. The song moves at a funereal pace, while a lone vocalist sings of love and doubt in a standout performance.
As an epilogue, two remixes of key tracks have been added, which take Warsaw Village Band's sound to clubland, perhaps making it marginaly easier on the ear and more danceable, whilst still sounding fierce. These are both entertaining in their way but ultimately not as satisfying excursions as the originals.
I've long been a fan of Scandinavian artists including Garmarna, Hedningarna, Varttina and Mari Boine, with whom Warsaw Village Band share an affinity, conjuring heady, bewitching music. People's Spring seems perhaps a little limited in scope in comparison, and I prefer playing favourite tracks in smaller clusters rather than the album from start to finish, but when the planets are in the right alignment, these songs make for an incredible, raw experience.