I remember my first meeting with Michał Jacaszek in Gdańsk. It was after the Podpora and Kohyt duo prepared the album “Nights Are Numbered”. During that meeting Michał told me about his plans to record a new album. As he explained, the album’s field recording content will select from several hours of birdsong, calls of frogs, insect noises, sounds of trees, bushes, grass as well as non-living natural elements like stones or shells. This album has been released under the name “Gardenia” and it certainly sounds much better than Jacaszek’s oral announcements. But during our meeting It did not arouse my enthusiasm as much as what he told me after a while that he was planning to do using recordings of the interiors of Gdańsk churches. Bearing in mind how important for Jacaszek is the spiritual aspect of his work, I was convinced that recordings from inside churches will be something very personal and unique for this composer, much more than just “another album with field recordings”
Then I also (again) thought about the duo Katarzyna Podpora and Max Kohyt. Yeah ….on the one hand, the momentum and sometimes the inspired pathos of Jacaszek, and on the other, the sounds, rustles of leaves, sticks and all of them unique instrumentation often leads them to the abandoned chapels at the point of nowhere ( as you may know on their debiut, the duo played in the spaces of chapels and backrooms ).
Ultimately, the unexpected and dreamed meeting took place not in the deep Pomeranian forest or on a safari, but at the Baltic Opera. The result of this session exceeded my expectations. This LP confronting listener with hardly categorisable and puzzling form.
The album starts with what can be called fake field recording.
Tomek Krakowiak once did a similar work and artistic gesture on his album “Moulins”, where he recreated a field recording “sound walk” in studio conditions.
So at first we hear the sounds of the street, the clatter of tram tracks located next to the building of the Baltic Opera. After 5 minutes, when the listener’s ear gets used to the knocking, the audience’s attention is directed by the musicians to the more musical and ambient sounds of the Baltic Opera. Michał Jacaszek joins the playing with his electronics. Ambient magma dissolves the sounds of the street and we hear a kind of composition similar to the work of the recently deceased American composer Ingram Marshall. I mean his album “Alcatraz” for New Albion Records where he used sounds he recorded near San Francisco Bay, including fog horns at different pitches and ringing buoys and wind. Looped and processed, the recordings became a dark-hued, hauntingly atmospheric score.
Instruments and objects used by Podpora and Kohyt – sometimes actively fuse with Jacaszek’s soundtracks, bantering with them or accompanying and amplifying electronic passages with whistles, murmurs and clattering sounds like from the old pioneering days of radio studios.
You can still manage to hear echoes of improv music, noise and contemporary classic forms music masters (from british AMM to Polish sonorists Zygmunt Krauze or Boguslaw Schaeffer ) but thanks to Jacaszek drifting towards a combinations of these three but with the additional element of ambient.
This album functions as an autonomous entity, or a sound event provoking questions rather than attempting to answer them.
I am very happy that after playing a few concerts and participating in two festivals, the trio did not disintegrate and their creative activity is continued along with several other figures of the electronic scene from Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot under the name of the Tri-City Electroacoustic Stage.
It looks like this grassroots art movement is doing better and better these days.
All photos made by Krzysztof Mystkowski, Gdańsk 2020