Since 2010, the Very Polish Cut Outs label has made a name for itself by pulling back the Iron Curtain to rework and reimagine music from the treasure troves of Eastern Europe. They began with a long running and pretty much essential series of edits by luminaries of the oeuvre such as Eddie C, Rune Lindbæk and Telephones as well as less familiar names like Kacper Kapsa and Old Spice. They haven’t limited it to that groove though, the label has evolved and expanded, putting out artist albums by Renata Lewandowska and now this latest from Pejzaż - a double header no less. ‘List I’ is just out with companion piece ‘List II’ soon coming.
Keeping the cut outs theme alive and well, Pejzaż (real name Bartosz Kruczyński) has pieced together a wonderful series of tracks built from various samples of nineties to noughties CD releases. The sound of acoustic instruments pervades the record, with looped guitars, solid drums and various horns and keys thrown into the mix. Cut up albums can sometimes sound just like that, lots of impressive sounding chunks of music spliced together but the samples here are seamlessly woven together into something altogether new.
‘List I’ comes in two distinct parts. The A side skips about, bouncing from the high rise soundscapes of ‘Mikrokosmos’ to dreamy yet dramatic ‘Szepty’ complete with spanish guitar and tabla. ‘Fata Morgana’ ups the atmospherics with whistling horns and not a little bit of funk. ‘Directions’ comes up in an avant pop touch, moving through the emotions in its five minutes.
Side B begins with the dramatic guitars and descending keys of ‘Reguly Gry’ before heading off into the four part orchestral suite of ‘Barwa I, II, III & IV’. Sticking the 'classical' tag on anything can be a burden, but Pejzaż has reworked whatever base materials with a light touch into something that’s both immersive and accessible. Equally at home being played at sunset or fireside.
The second, ‘List II’, is more of a discrete set of tracks but no worse for it. ‘Duchy Lasu’ loops a head-nod guitar riff into cello stabs and a shuffling drum beat, chill but with an edge. ‘Bez Grawitacji’ scratches the hip hop itch with a dark looped rhythm merged with a yearning vocal on top bringing back the expansiveness into something more claustrophobic. Then ‘Ogrod’ drops a dubby skip onto mournful piano, ever building. ‘Serce’ then takes things on with a more straight up steppa with a nod to some backroom bounce . Meanwhile ‘Po Godzinach’ channels prime Shadow before ‘Wizje’ opens up the horizon with a beatless ambient moment. Proceedings are closed with the chopped folk of ‘Linia Piekna’ with its layered vocal harmonies and guitar finale providing a suitable closer.
The ‘List’ double set is often intricate, carefully crafted and full of hidden depths and surprises. One that definitely benefits from what emerges on repeated listens. Perhaps Poland has its answer to the Balearic feel? Is this music inspired by the White Isle’s enduring appeal? Whatever the answer, ‘List I and II’ certainly make the case for checking the sunset on the Vistula and sampling some Baltic beat.
List I is available now at various musical outlets and List II comes next month, both on the Polish Cut Outs Bandcamp