Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Babadag – Babadag (2012)

Babadag

Ola Bilińska - vocals
Maciej Cieślak - guitar
Szymon Tarkowski - bass
Hubert Zemler - drums

Babadag

LADO ABC B/18



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish ensemble Babadag, a quartet fronted by vocalist/lyricist/composer Ola Bilińska with guitarist Maciej Cieślak, bassist Szymon Tarkowski and drummer Hubert Zemler. The quartet members play a plethora of instruments among themselves and a few guest musicians also appear on selected tracks. The album presents ten original songs, all written and composed by Bilinska, nine of which have lyrics in English and one in Polish.

The music is immediately strikingly as highly original, and therefore difficult to be easily categorized. The atmosphere is mostly somewhere in the neighborhood of Progressive Folk-Rock, but with instrumental work that borders on the Avant Progressive with touches of Jazzy influences. Although focused on Bilińska's vocal explorations, this is obviously a team effort, as this highly emotional and complex music involves close cooperation between the Artists than usually found in such efforts.

Bilińska displays extraordinary talent both as a composer of atmospheric, expressive and fully developed highly original compositions and as a unique performer. Although she sings lyrics, her delivery is more instrumental than text oriented and she uses a very diverse palette of vocal approaches. I usually detest Polish vocalists singing in English, but in this context the theatrical and artistic delivery of the vocals hide the "improper" accent and pronunciation to such extent, that it is completely acceptable.

The other musicians involved in this project display their respective abilities as multi-instrumentalists, playing many exotic and unusual sounds, always perfectly matching the music. The arrangements of the material are credited to the entire ensemble, and rightly so, as this is obviously a result of close cooperation and common goal, as already mentioned above.

As far as I know this album received very little exposure so far, which is not surprising considering how original, different and artistic it is. Perhaps the fact that it floats somewhere between the straightforward genre definitions has something to do with it. Also the fact that it was released on a small independent Polish label, Lado ABC, associated with the Polish avant garde scene, did not help to gain popularity. Nevertheless the album definitely does deserve exposure, as it is a solid piece of heartwarming music, searching, exploring and aesthetically pleasing, not to mention being a superb debut effort.

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