Piotr Kurek’s ‘Edena’ reviewed.

, 24 December 2012

When it comes to his concept of time and eclecticism, Piotr Kurek is all over the place. As a composer and multi-instrumentalist with a penchant for vintage sound equipment, as well as the practical sense to know where their limitations are, his musical compositions –part melodic narrative, part sound collage –distil a sense of nostalgia into a romance for the present. Using a Moebius comic he had never seen (Le Monde d’Edena) and an instrument he would never have (a Mellotron) as a conceptual starting point, the Warsaw-based, Polish artist presents Edena, out on Wroclaw label Sangoplasmo.

Piotr Kurek. Photo by Hannah Devereux. Image courtesy of the artists.
Piotr Kurek. Photo by Hannah Devereux. Image courtesy of the artists.

Dropped during the holiday season where the music industry lapses into limbo, it might seem inopportune timing but it’s almost appropriate, considering the spaciotemporal vacuum in which Kurek’s music operates. Straddling the worlds of free jazz, musique concrete, psychedelia and drone, Kurek has been splitting his various stylistic predilections across projects. From the rustic minimalism of his folk-inspired Piętnastka, with French artist Sylvia Monnier, to another one of their shared noise-related ventures, Suaves Figures. Then there are the sampling sound scapes of Lectures (in honour of experimental jazz composer Cornelius Cardew) and the exotic field recordings and crumbling Tropicalia influences of Heat, released as himself. This latest one, however, sees Piotr Kurek bleeding ideas once split into several distinct personalities, into a sophisticated single identity.

Because, instead of the sample instruments of his unique rearrangement of one of Cardew’s Fitzcarraldo pieces for Lectures or the Amazonian archival recordings for Heat, it’s a makeshift Mellotron (comprised of taped sound, ripped from Youtube and reassigned to his Nord Electro synthesiser) that make up the basis of Edena. Inhabiting its own oblivious sonic universe –somewhere between sound art and music –Kurek merges the structure and repetition of Piętnastka with the wild experimentation of his other projects to create a tension of ideas, oscillating through a streamlined sonic artery. In the same way that the looping samples and sequences of ‘Desires’, slip in and out of synchronicity and travel along their own trajectory, organic samples of plucked strings, pitch-shifting vocals and synthetic tones all combine to pursue a common goal. It’s an ethos reminiscent of the 60s Silver Apples, in that they take opposing elements and inexplicably form a cohesive, viscerally felt rhythm.

Piotr Kurek. Photo by Hannah Devereux. Image courtesy of the artist.
Piotr Kurek. Photo by Hannah Devereux. Image courtesy of the artist.

A hypnotic, circular motion pervades all of Edena; a cyclic life force that gives the impression of forward motion, while really folding back on itself, reflected by the infinity symbol of the cassette cover. The very fact the record is being released on tape not only adds to the warmth of Kurek’s hybridised analogue to digital approach, but it exemplifies a disintegrating loop of musical exploration. We live, after all, in an era with no real past or future, where everything is available, accessible and disposable at the push of a button -in however manipulated, distorted or recontextualised a form. That’s why Edena’s miscellaneous cross-media palate is so fascinating. It’s something that is dense and sentimental, as well as technologically astute and totally of its own creative plane.

Piotr Kurek’s Edena was out on Sangoplasmo Records December, 20, 2012.