Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Emil Miszk & The Sonic Syndicate - Artificial Stupidity (2020)

Emil Miszk & The Sonic Syndicate

Emil Miszk - trumpet
Kuba Więcek - alto saxophone
Piotr Chęcki - tenor saxophone
Paweł Niewiadomski - trombone
Szymon Burnos - piano
Michał Zienkowski - guitar
Konrad Żołnierek - bass
Sławek Koryzno - drums


Artificial Stupidity

ALPAKA 014

By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish Jazz trumpeter / composer / bandleader Emil Miszk and his octet called Sonic Syndicate, which also includes saxophonists Piotr Chęcki and Kuba Więcek, trombonist Paweł Niewiadomski, pianist Szymon Burnos, guitarist Michal Zienkowski, bassist Konrad Żołnierek and drummer Sławomir Koryzno, same lineup as on the debut. The album presents six original compositions, which strangely are not credited on the album's artwork and are therefore assumed to be all by the leader. The total playing time of the album is just below thirty-five minutes, which is closer to an EP than a full album.

The brilliant debut album released a couple of years earlier created enormously high expectations from the sophomore release, which are almost impossible to be fulfilled. Considering the fact that the music on this album is significantly different from that on its predecessor, any attempt to compare the two is practically fruitless. Combined with loosing the element of surprise, the resulting effect is somewhat less exciting.

Nevertheless this is still brilliant music, beautifully performed by some of the best young generation Polish Jazz musicians. The compositions are complex and combine several melodic and rhythmic themes within each of the pieces. They are all carefully designed, ordered and planned, cerebral and refined, oriented towards the "big sound" the octet is able to create, at times offering up-to-date Big Band mannerisms.

There is no doubt that Miszk and his Sonic Syndicate offer some of the cleverest music on the Polish Jazz scene, which can eventually lead to some level of estrangement with the audience. This album, as already mentioned, has a short playing time, but is so intensive and demanding that perhaps any additional material might have been simply over the top. Miszk obviously gives up almost completely his role as an instrumentalist and is completely absorbed by his role of a composer and arranger.

Overall this is a dazzling piece of music, which concentrates on highly complex, sophisticated compositions, which are difficult to follow but highly rewarding to advanced Jazz listeners. The (almost) orchestral arrangements are devilishly tricky and must have been a real challenge to perform and record, which makes me wonder if this music is possible to be played live. In any case Miszk is surely an Artist to be watched closely, as he obviously is just worming up.

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