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Jozef Skrzek East Wind - 2008 - "Tryptyk Petersburski"

(79:13, Wydawnictwo-21 Records)


TRACK LIST:                                 

1.  Thousands of Planets 4:30
2.  The Storm Over Newa 8:01
3.  In the Cradle of Your Hands 10:34
4.  Pathless Near Ternopil 9:26
5.  Prelude with Vocals 4:00
6.  Dew on the Solina Heights 11:46
7.  Horizontal Planets 8:41
8.  Louise 4:13
9.  There is Your Heart 12:06
10. Oh Lord Forgive My Thoughts 5:56


Jozef Skrzek – great pipe organ, grand piano, synthesizers; vocals
Michail Ogorodov – keyboards; vocals
Roksana Vikaluk – vocals
Aleksandr Ragazanov – drums
Michal Giercuszkiewicz – percussion

Prolusion. Jozef SKRZEK is somewhat of a living legend in Eastern Europe in general and in his homeland of Poland in particular. He made his name first and foremost with SBB, a band that started out in 1971 and is still going strong today in 2008, after some lengthy hiatus periods in the '80s and '90s. Skrzek has also made a name for himself composing and playing electronic music, theater music and soundtracks, and has also been active giving piano and organ concerts in some of Poland's many most celebrated churches. "Tryptek Petersburski" (“Petersburg Triptych”) was released in 2007, and is a collection of live recordings from three concerts Skrzek and four specially invited musicians held at three very different venues in December 2004.

Analysis. The concert with the least material on this album is the one from the Planetarium in Chorzow, which took place on December 4. The tunes Horizontal Planets and Louise have been chosen from this performance, two rather different sounding tracks. The former is a rather long improvisational-sounding piece, with dark and light synth textures contrasting with each other nicely, some jazzy tendencies added in segments, and a build up towards a majestic, intense final section. The latter is a more lush and ambient affair, where keyboard layers and vocals dominate in making a beautiful sonic creation. Slightly more material has been included from the concert at the Blue Note jazz club in Poznan, which took place on December 6. The opening two tracks on the album, Thousands of Planets and The Storm Over Newa, as well as Prelude with Vocals, are the chosen performances from this event. Melodic synth layers are important aspects of these performances too, and there is a distinct feeling of improvisation over these compositions as well. What sets these apart from the other tunes are several distinct jazz-influenced moments in all of them, which is natural given the location, I suspect. The concert that dominates “Tryptych Petersburski” is the one from December 5th, though, performed in the Holy Cross Basilica in Warsaw. Skrzek mainly plays the organ in the Basilica, and the sound of the organ as well as the choice of songs and improvisations here are really something different. The keyword to the fifty minutes of music pulled from this performance is sacred. Even when used sparingly, the organ infuses these songs with a religious, contemplative and perhaps even holy mood and atmosphere. The mostly slow-moving performances, the deep sounds of the organ underscoring – while its lighter textures float above synth layers, vocals, drums and percussion – the timbre of the vocals as they match up to the organ sound are all add up to something not quite of this world. Somber, melancholic, serious, yet not without joy also, beautiful and awe-inspiring, yet not frivolous in any way. It's everything you might hope for when attending a church ceremony, yet also what you rarely get – a sense of holiness, of something greater than yourself being present. Beautiful, awe-inspiring and yet strangely relaxing at the same time. Overall this is an interesting release, showcasing three slightly different aspects to these fine musicians' stylistic expressions. The performances are high quality all the way; the improvisations work out rather well, and the moods and atmospheres created are breathtaking at their best. The longer tunes may be too slow to evolve for some, though, and the reverential moods explored in the concert dominating this release probably won't be to everybody's taste. Still, this is a high class album in most respects.

Conclusion. If you like the sound of the church organ mixed with more modern instruments in tunes of a distinctly sacral nature, I doubt that you'll be able to find many releases better than this one from the last few years. Fans and followers of Jozef Skrzek will probably get this one anyhow, and they can be assured of this release being of high quality; purchasing this CD will not be a waste of their money.

OMB: July 21, 2008
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Wydawnictwo-21 Records
Jozef Skrzek


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