Sunday, September 2, 2012

Niechec - Smierc w miekkim futerku (Wytwornia, 2012) by Adam Baruch

Niechęć (band)

Michał Kaczorek - drums
Stefan Nowakowski - bass
Tomek Wielechowski - piano, synth
Rafał Błaszczak - guitar
Maciek Zwierzchowski - saxophones

Lady Aarp (Kasia Kolbowska - harp, Sebastian Wtitkowski - dub, electronics)
DJ Feel - psycho synth

Smierc w miekkim futerku (Wytwornia, 2012)

This is the debut album by the Polish ensemble Niechec ("Animosity" in Polish), which is a quintet comprising of five young musicians: saxophonist Maciej Zwierzchowski, guitarist Rafal Blaszczak, keyboardist Tomasz Wielechowski, bassist Stefan Nowakowski and drummer Michal Kaczorek. The album includes nine instrumental tracks, five of which were composed by Zwierzchowski, three by Nowakowski and one comes from outside the ensemble. Before this debut album the ensemble released a five-track EP, which included some of the material present here.

The album's unusual title ("Death In A Soft Fur Coat" in Polish), is the first hint as to the album being quite unusual, which is confirmed by its musical content. It is a completely new amalgam of Jazz tradition with contemporary sound and Rock heritage and could be roughly described as Jazz-Rock (for the lack of a better label), but as it crosses genres in every way imaginable, labeling this music is futile. What is important is the fact that the album is quite stunning and fresh, which is such a rare phenomenon these days.

The source of the sonic side of Niechec could be perhaps tracked back to the early 1980s and the great British band Madness, with its distinctive saxophone front-line created by Lee Thompson. Niechec also place the saxophone right up front, and with the lack of vocals it becomes the group's primary voice. Although the rest of the group provides mostly the background, upon which the sax parts are based, they are all great instrumentalists and they do a splendid job indeed. The acoustic piano parts by Wielechowski are especially impressive, but the rhythm section is also truly excellent.

Zwierzchowski is of course the front man here and his big, strong and impressive saxophone sound dominates the music. At times the sax is multi-tracked and the sound becomes even more massive. He uses an extensive vibrato, which is rarely used these days in Jazz and surprisingly (or not) parts of his solos are quite free form, surely not what one would expect from a Rock oriented album. He is perhaps not as technically proficient as other pure Jazz players at his age, but he has a unique voice and style, which are deadly effective and stunningly fitting for this king of music.

Stylistically the music is somewhere in between Jazz-Rock and Progressive Rock, with hints of contemporary cinematic music and alternative Rock. But all these labels are simple inadequate and listening in this case is the only alternative. Expect the unexpected!

Overall this is one hell of a debut album and one of the best albums released so far this year on the Polish scene. If this is the opening statement by these young lads, one can hardly imagine what the future has in store for them. Kudos and good luck! Music connoisseurs should grab this at their earlier convenience.

By Adam Baruch

Track listing: 1 After You; 2 Taksówkarz; 3 Mojry; 4 Niespokojny Relaks; 5 Relaks Dub; 6 Drugi Turnus W Pucku; 7 Prozak; 8 Fecaliano; 9 Śmierć W Miękkim Futerku

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