'It is these qualities, however, which lend their old folk material a crucial sense of...
Martin Longley 2004-12-02
The Warsaw Village Band have already run off with a Best Newcomer trophy from the BBC'sAwards for World Music 2004. The rebellious Polish six-piece describe their house style as'hardcore folk', and the signature sound is indeed formed by uncompromising traditionalism, updated with a guttural punk rock aesthetic.
Maja Kleszcz, Sylwia Swiatkowska and Magdalena Sobczak divide up the vocals, forming a mini-choir. Between them, the three also play violin, cello and dulcimer. The men of the band are Wojtek Krzak (violin), Maciej Szajkowski (frame drum) and Piotr Glinski (traditional baraban drum).
This follow-up to their enthusiastically received People's Springconsolidates their position with an exhilarating rush of perverted traditionalism. Two songs, the opening "In The Forest" and "When Johnny Went To Fight In The War", feature turntable scratching and demented siren effects, courtesy of FeelX and Mario Activator. Uncannily, these guest additions feel entirely logical when set beside grainily sawing fiddles and strident three-way vocalisations.
The Lipsk Women's Choir underline the band's group voices with a touch of the real thing in two of the album's tracks. The WVB pay homage to their mentors with brief bridging snatches of Janina and Kazimierz Zdrzalik, veteran players who have been responsible for passing down skills and even some of their old instruments.
"At The Front Of The Gates" is steeped in trudging melancholy, but it's followed by a sprightly instrumental polka, highlighting nimble fiddle and cascading dulcimer. "Matthew" is a fine example of Polish reggae, with the three singers vibrating at their most stentorian pitch. "Grey Horse" is stripped right down to violin, cello and drum.
The WVB's hectic vocal lines have a harsh, almost shouted quality which might scare off some listeners. Likewise, the string sounds are grainy-edged and aggressively scraped. The drumming is direct and powerful, recorded close-up for maximum resonance.It is these qualities, however, which lend their old folk material a crucial sense of immediacy and excitement.