Friday, January 23, 2015

Noiko - Honey (2012)


Michał Kędziora - clarinet, guitar, piano, glockenspiel, drums, electronics, samples


ETA-CD 018

By Scott W

Debuting from Poland, Noiko (Michał Kędziora) demonstrates a high degree of craft for a first release as evidenced by his restraint, professionalism and bravery. Electroacoustic is the general schema here, but don’t let this qualifier lead you down the path of stereotypical components: dark, sterile sounds; overly “high-minded” postmodern conceptualizations; boring stretches of barely audible static. No, this a fresh and unique work certainly worthy of the attention of longtime fans of the genre as well as newcomers.

The album works cohesively due to the intimacy of the sounds utilized throughout. A brief succession of ideas forms the whole. Playful loops; jazzy, odd phrases; jangling rattling post-processed beats; mismatched tone clusters; carefully selected complimentary elements… all are relaxingly surreal and quizzical in nature. Rather than taking the usual obscure route of rendering all source sounds into undecipherable rumbles, hissing and reverberated clanks, Kędziora limits the amount of digital signal processing and allows the samples to remain identifiable. Traditional instruments are utilized most often: clarinet, guitar, drums, glockenspiel, piano. As stated in the promotional materials, many of these sounds were recorded by the artist in his own home - accrued over a span of some four years, no doubt! There is a depth of space and gravity to which the various elements coexist. The mix never feels crowded or “too busy”.

The album was inspired by the birth of Kędziora’s daughter and the childlike aura is palpable on Honey. In fact, during the final track we are treated to some of the most intimate domestic sound possible: the pre-lingual babble of what I presume to be his daughter. Refreshingly simple and direct, Honey is a great first gallop out of the starting gates for Noiko. No doubt a different direction would likely be taken on a sophomore effort, but what that may be is difficult to predict. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the follow up, but until then I’ll be satisfied with this easily digestible, 34 minute album.

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