Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

My favorite new band of the moment.

So I'm working on this show at the moment which required me to find music that sounded Eastern European, based in a traditional folk style, but that also didn't sound too clichéd or pedestrian. Basically, something that sounded unlike anything else, but also created a very specific enviroment.

Enter the Warsaw Village Band.

The band, also known as Kapela ze wsi Warszawa in Poland, was started by a group of musicians in their twenties who were tired of the mass-marketing and homogenization of youth culture. So they turned to traditional Polish music, and began playing those songs, some of which were over 300 years old. But now before you start thinking "Hey, music boy, this sounds pretty square to me", take a listen to this.

Cool, huh? The first thing that you notice is the BIG FREAKIN DRUMS that makes you think "Whoa, this is not the best of Frankie Yankovich". Combine that with some beautifully dense string arrangements, hammered dulcimer and other exotic instruments, and some incredible vocals that are reminiscent of The Cocteau Twins (if they were Polish), and you've got the Warsaw Village Band.

The vocal style was adapted from the sheep-herding mountaineers of Poland, who used a style of singing called “bialy glos” or “white voice;” a type of powerful, melodic screaming used to communicate across long distances. Their lineup includes the suka’a Polish fiddle from the 16th century that is only known from historical drawings and whose strings are played with the player’s fingernails rather than the usual fingertips. The suka is joined by an hundred-year-old Polish dulcimer and the hurdy-gurdy - a unique instrument that sounds similar to the bagpipe, thanks to a drone that is played by a cranked wooden wheel rubbing against the strings of the instrument.

Folk music in Poland was extremely popular before the rise of Communism, which almost completely stomped it out of existence. Now it's back, and the Warsaw Village Band is the one group who seems to be having success outside of Poland.


My favorite album of the band is People's Spring, which is packed full of these blasts of exotic music. My two favorite tracks on this are:

Taniec Chasydzki (Hassidic Dance):

and U Mojej Matecki (At My Mother's):


This is their new album, Uprooting. This time, they got a DJ to play with the band, which must have sounded like a good idea at the time, but kinda just gets in the way, in my opinion. Still, it's a great record, with a mind-blowing sound.

Check out their supercool video! I would be impressed by this video, even if I had no idea who this band was.

So that's my favorite new band of the moment. They're doing a US tour in May, and I would highly recommend that you check them out if you can. If you want to download their albums, you can do it here.

Have fun! Do Widzenia!


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