Jocelyn Packard – Jocelyn Packard

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[ Self-released, 2017 ]

I’ve been in luck when it comes to jammy, instrumental Polish bands. After Królestwo and Produkty Rolne comes time for a band named Jocelyn Packard. Little is known about them, apart form the fact they named themselves after an influential Twin Peaks character and they play the kind of neurotic, angry post-rock that was big before it went all GY!BE-like and lost most of its balls. However, this self titled debut album doesn’t give a fuck about being sentimental and goes instead for being angry, alienated, even tortured at times, when taking a sludgy, doomy turn. The slightly lo-fi production only enhances the smoggy mood. Recommended debut!


Rangers – Texas Rock Bottom

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[ Self-released, 2016 ]

A praise of very ordinary living: the newest album by Joe Knight a.k.a. Rangers makes you check all the info on the Bandcamp page twice while thinking: “Wait, is this the same guy who made Suburban Tours and Panama Stories, which shaped hypnagogic pop with its hazy, druggy aesthetics!?”. Yes, it is. At first, it might seem almost dull by comparison – the songs here sound a bit like something a small town rock band might record to be played on a local radio, but with each repeated listening the intriguing stylistic shifts and occasional breaks in almost pop rock song structures become more and more prominent. Turns out, there’s quite a lot of Meat Puppets love under the soft melodies and easy rhythms. It’s a kind of sly, secretive psychedelia that only emerges after a few listens or when one completely blends into the music. A bit underwhelming at first, but very rewarding after a while. Recommended!


Królestwo – Ćwiczenia repetytywne

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Music Is the Weapon, 2016 ]

Dreams of Power: The debut album by the Gdynia based free rock trio Królestwo (Polish for “Kingdom”) is a listen I find difficult to describe. The best way to describe this album would be simply “free rock”, but that’s a simplification. The compositions are really open-ended, usually built around some simple bassline or rhythm that morphs and changes forms over time, but almost always returning, like an endless repetition. The open structure might suggest some psychedelic rock or post-rock influences, but Ćwiczenia repetytywne has an uniquely dark, almost industrial air to it: you can almost feel the smog hovering above bleak urban landscapes. This album is a big, dark cloud that slowly sucks you in and puts you in a trance with its ominous power. Highly recommended!


Innercity Ensemble – III

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[ Instant Classic, 2016 ]

On their third studio album, the Polish band Innercity Ensemble keeps their central idea of improvisation strong, but this time the music is more concise and rhythm driven. Despite a double album (like it was in the case of II), they go for a shorter, yet fuller experience, balancing between tribal trance and jazz aesthetics. What stands out here is the amazing drumming – everything else is subject to it, it’s the rhythm that rules the album. Innercity Ensemble is a supergroup – but not a kind of supergroup that has some big names in the roster and releases something mediocre. They do exactly the opposite: their cooperation on III is so perfect they might as well be one organism. And they manage to express their organic approach to improvisation and psychedelia with truly magnetic power. Highly recommended!


Kristen – LAS

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[ Instant Classic, 2016 ]

The eighth studio release by the Szczecin based rock group Kristen is their psychedelic to date, this time turning to minimalism and setting their organic jams on the foundation of trippy loops. While the concept of a simple, looping riff has been done many times before, to name Pharaoh Overlord, Cave or Oneida (and their labelmates Lotto) as some most obvious examples, Kristen’s songs are both smoother and smokier, ornamenting their music with gentle synths and a spacious atmosphere that somehow feels more mind-enhancing than the previous experiments with repetion. Not to mention the phenomenal interlude “Wyspa”, breaking the trance with a heavily layered, droning mass of sound that sounds like La Morte Young jamming with Spencer Clark. LAS was completely unexpected, and it blew me away. Highly recommended!


LOTTO – Elite Feline

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[ Instant Classic, 2016 ]

Over 40 minutes of deserted psychedelic post-rock relying on a single solid riff thoroughout two side-long slow-burners from the Polish dead man rock supergroup Lotto. And by slow-burners, I mean really slow. Like the whole track is locked around one endlessly looped riff, the first track, “Rope”, being the slightly more energetic one, carrying the same theme, as in The Necks’ “Sex”, the same jazzy, smokey theme with more bass guitar this time; except for a little over 20 minutes, not over 60. The other side is a lot more sombre and post-rocky, pointing to an early Slint lost in post-industrial fog. While the previous LOTTO album was a fun trip into the desert, this one a journey through a desert after a nuclear weapon test. Recommneded!


7faz – Faza B

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[ Nasiono Records, 2016 ]

Faza B is the second installment in the 7faz series (Polish for “7 phases”). Starting with letter A and extending up to the letter G, with each letter being released every month, 7faz is a conceptual meditation on improvisationFaza B is heavy on sleepy ambience, ominous tape loops coated under a layer of hissy dust and distant guitar licks building the haunted atmosphere. The output can be likened to the sprawling improvisations of the Norwegian ensemble Supersilent. The tracks build up at an almost geological pace, occasional trumpet or a saxophone blurt while drums slowly pick up the pace and a raspy male voice narrates a love poem among the pulsing wall of synths. It’s a dense, abstract piece of music. Demanding and rewarding. Check out the whole series.