Music

Polish Psychedelic Folk Group Księżyc at Cafe OTO, reviewed by Ian Mole

Rating:

06/12/2015

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ksiezyc1They played for just over an hour without any breaks and mesmerized the vast majority of the audience packed into this small Dalston venue.

This Polish five-piece were originally together from 1990 to 1996 but reformed in 2014. Their name means ‘moon’ and appropriately their music is about the symbolism of the moon : femininity, mystery, transformation and death. They sang in Polish throughout.

The twin lead vocals – Agata Harz and Catherine Smoluk – blended beautifully and sounded at times like Orthodox chanting; they may indeed have been singing religious verses. Behind this was a musical collage of synths, atmospheric ethereal tapes with occasional sounds of raindrops, some clarinet and accordion from Robert Nizinski and hurdy-gurdy from Remigiuz Mazury-Hanaj.

The vocals sometimes consisted of animalistic yelps and machine-gun noises and, as they improvised, the singers were clearly enjoying themselves – at one point moving away from the stage and batting balloons at each other. Later they played on half-filled water-glasses or blew on flexible plastic tubes (anyone who recalls the Bonzos’ ‘Urban Spaceman’ should remember singer Viv Stanshall playing on a similar item).

Some of the vocals  were sampled and repeated on the spot and their relaxed impromptu nature was impressive. The contrast between the traditional vocals and hi-tech backing worked well, producing an air both mournful and enchanting – the dark stage-setting illuminated by candles only adding to the effect.

The whole performance was structured but with plenty of room for improvisation – it was consistently compelling, and never once fell into the trap of doodling aimlessly. There was loud applause as Księżyc finished, and it’s easy to see why. It’s not often you witness such an original and enjoyable performance. I can heartily recommend them.

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Księżyc’s UK Tour – also featuring dates in Huddersfield and Glasgow – was supported by the Polish Cultural Institute, London.
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