Grupa W Składzie ‎– Grupa W Składzie

Trzecia Fala ‎– 002
CD, Album


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Recorded between 1972 and 1975


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September 18, 2015
At the intense turn of the 60s and 70s, another crowd unassociated with jazz appeared on the scene: hippie freaks, performance artists, avant-garde offshoots of the academic world interested in improvisation. It was there that the band Grupa w Składzie was formed and played its first show, a concert at Poland’s first hippie commune in the town of Ożarów. The group was founded by Milo Kurtis (later co-creator of the bands Osjan, Manaam, and Izrael), Andrzej Kasprzyk, and Jacek “Krokodyl” Malicki. The lineup evolved over time, performing later shows with a whole plethora of restless Warsaw bohemians, particularly Andrzej “Amok” Turczynowicz and Andrzej Zuzak (who later resurfaced as activists on the proto-punk scene; Amok would go on to found his own groups, including Grupa Swobodnej Improwizacji in 1977), as well as exploring musicians, among whom were Bieżan, Przybielski, and Nadolski. In 1971–1974, Grupa w Składzie won distinctions at the legendary Contemporary Youth Music Festival in Kalisz (the first edition of which, held in 1969, was known as National Avant-Garde Beat Festival) and the Jazz on the Odra Festival; it was intensively active in gallery circles and took part in multimedia performances. A chronicle of these events — which place the band in the context of 1970s Polish conceptual art and the influence of the Fluxus movement – can be found in the booklet accompanying the anthology Grupa w Składzie, published by Trzecia Fala, which constitutes the band’s only published material. The archival recordings collected in the release depict a highly interesting and original phenomenon.

Grupa w Składzie managed to get by without a rhythm section, relying instead on guitars, a double bass, a bouzouki, flutes, a saxophone, a bassoon, and percussive instruments. An important role was played by vocal harmonies, which revealed an elusive Eastern feel. The band called their art “intuitive music.” The amorphous poetics of their sound-centric improvisation is far removed from cold, conceptual avant-garde jazz, and speaks with a rootsy kind of energy. Grupa w Składzie’s music has the aura of a catacomb ritual. Its character is best described by Krokodyl’s authorial commentary: “Listening or reciting poetry was far from our intent, though we were conscious of Homer’s epics, as mythical as they were and as complex was their provenance, but they did come from the memory box of the mind, not unlike the slam poetry of today. We were more drawn by child-like babbling, hitting drumsticks with no rhythm, and completely primordial tapping, because we wanted to discover the beginnings of music, just like the cave paintings of Lascaux and Altamira were discovered.”

If we were to look for comparisons, the more abstract “spaces and sounds” of the early Art Ensemble of Chicago would be most apt. But Grupa w Składzie was closer to John Cage than it was to jazz. Footage from their Kalisz concerts gives us an idea about the sound experiments conducted by the musicians who, using amplifiers and reverb, achieved effects similar to the “cosmic music” of the German rock scene. The record also feature a montage of prepared tape which was intended to be used at multimedia performances, during which Grupa w Składzie played reel to reel tape players rather than instruments. Sound collages gleaned from the radio and television, echoing the hits of the People’s Republic of Poland, contrast sharply with the group’s improvisation style and foreshadow the experiments of industrial music. The surprising finale of the record features a recording made in 2012. Grupa w Składzie is once again playing concerts. There’s another semi-mythical group of autodidacts from the early 70s waiting to be discovered: Warsaw’s Tlenek Jazzawy, formed by future punk and new wave heroes, saxophone player Tomek “Men” Świtalski and Jasio “Grzmot” Rołt.

Rafał Księżyk