Operating in the space between Eastern and Central Europe, Poland has a tremendous wealth of musical talent that isn’t getting the internal attention that it deserves. Ciaran introduces five contemporary Polish acts that you ought to check out.
Poland operates within that strange geographical space that is neither Eastern Europe nor entirely embraced as part of Central Europe. Strangely, it is considered far too westernized for the followers of the Gosha Rubchinskiy-inspired ‘New East’, yet gets very little attention from western music writers, where it’s dismissed as another Eastern European country. This is all done despite its rich cultural history in cinema, performance art, and it having been one of the few Warsaw Pact countries during socialism to house a dynamic music scene. The Unsound music festival in Kraków continues to be one of the most progressive in all of Europe. But really, whether Poland is defined as Eastern or Central Europe isn’t the issue. What is significant is the tremendous wealth of musical talent in the country that isn’t getting the attention it deserves.
By no ways does there exist a particular ‘Polish sound’. Currently, there is no movement or defining characteristic of Polish music for writers to propagate upon. The one overarching characteristic that I observed regarding many Polish acts was that they can not be easily categorized. They construct their own aesthetic.. Please, check out these artists and make sure to follow them on their various social media platforms.
Coals make a brand of ethereal music that straddles between the mainstream yet hints to something far deeper. Both their latest singles, Lato2002 and S.I.T.C., haunt the listener and viewer with music videos locking themselves in that space in your mind that you avoid. They have this remarkable quality to construct music that snakes its way into your mind and your senses that is both unsettling yet perplexingly and incredibly alluring. Specifically on S.I.T.C., they utilize a duel female and male vocal performance to add to this discomforting feeling in a fashion that is seamless and perfectly executed.
Sotei are composed of two well-known qualities within the Polish electronic music scene, Sobura and Teielte. Very much inspired by the post-Burial British music scene, they make highly percussive sample based music that averts any easy categorization. It belongs in the cracks of where trip hop, Drum&Bass, bass music, and Piero Umiliani soundtracks converge. Whereas many artists attempt to compose cinematic music, Sotei avoids all the old clichés by mixing quick rhythms at the heart of their music. They’re absolutely perfect for those hours of the night where everything is possible.
Like the two artists above, Niemoc are a band that refuses to fit into easy moulds for journalists to categorize. Instead, their music soundtracks those microscopic events within your day that appear almost innocuous and inconsequential but comprise the majority of it. They are equally profound, with a name that I’ve yet to figure out how to pronounce. They recall pre-Four Tet Kieran Hebden’s project Fridge because of their amazing capacity to make minimalist instrumental music sound much more detailed than any of the adjectives that it is given credit for. Walking home at 6am on a Sunday morning, they are the perfect soundtrack.
This synth duo from Warsaw make incredibly warm electro pop. Unlike so many synth acts that utilize the instrument to construct a metallic cold sound, they instead make lush comforting music that eases you and wraps its arms around your shoulders reassuringly. They have done a number of live sessions that can be found on Youtube where it is evident that the band are able to translate this warm sound into a great live performance. They have toured Britain and certainly treated concert goers there to some great shows.
Writer Simon Reynolds famously applied Jacque Derrida’s concept of Hauntology to an unassembled group of artists at the start of the decade. Binding them was their paradoxical sound that nostalgically looked back on a future that never came to exist. Better Person embodies this idea with his ability to construct a nostalgic sound that cannot be pinpointed to a specific historical period. This now Berlin-based vocalist invokes a strong sense of longing in his music that recalls Sade and Takako Mamiya, all while challenging the gender performativity of a vocalist. Asking many questions, Better Person is an artist to take note of.