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Monday, December 5, 2011

Hera - Where My Complete Beloved Is (Multikulti, 2011) *****

By Stef

One of my favorite albums of 2010 was "Hera", because of its innovative approach to jazz, shifting boundaries, very expressive and accessible at the same time. The band's second album is in the same league, but with a few changes.

The band is the same, Wacław Zimpel on clarinet, bass clarinet, harmonium, and tarogato, Paweł Posteremczak on soprano, tenor saxophones and piano, Ksawery Wójcinski on double bass, and Paweł Szpura on drums and percussion. On this album they are joined by Maniucha Bikont on voice, and Sara Kałuzna on tampura. The second change is the integration of more folk elements.

The album starts with a long and hypnotic piece, "In That Place There Is No Happiness Or Unhappiness", in which the harmonium offers the most discerning character together with the mesmerising rhythm section, and ever maddening tempo, over which Posteremczak's tenor roars and howls like a Gato Barbieri in his best moments. And the reference to the sixties is not coincidental, as the band integrates world music and folk elements in its jazz. "

"No Truth Or Untruth" starts equally slow, with Posteremczak playing the trembita, an instrument with a deep, moaning sound, accompanied by Zimpel on Slovakian overtone flute - folk instruments, but they have probably never sounded so dark and ominous as you will hear them here. The effect is again spell-binding, and even increases as the rhythm picks up after seven minutes for another journey of tribal psychedelics, with the bass clarinet and the tenor interweaving their sounds in a strange and magical dance of short phrases circling closely around the tonal center, and in contrast, sounding more joyful.

The third track, "Neither Sin Or Virtue", is characterised by the hypnotic drone of the tampura, evoking some deep primitive and ritualistic feelings that resonate universally, accompanied by rattling small percussion, arco bass, and then again, possibly mirroring the dual titles of the pieces, the rhythm picks up halfway, as do the clarinet and the sax, with repetitive phrases, increasing the hypnotism and the magic, and the tempo going totally haywire, in a ferociously mad dance, that suddenly calms down for sad moaning over the endless drone of the tampura.

The album ends with "There Is No Day Or Night, No Moon Or Sun", a Slavic traditional folksong performed by Maniucha Bikont, whose voice is as authentic and beautiful as the improvisation by the band.

This is again a fantastic album, one that makes you want to dance all night under the stars, one that makes to want you weep because it resonates so much with the howling of sad humanity out there, or one that you just want to listen to, alone in the dark, to be overwhelmed, and crushed.

Absolute magic!

ps : I know we've had too many 5 star albums lately. Be happy. That's the way it is.

© stef


wojtek said...

Hi Stef
Great album indeed. One of the best this year.
Just for the record, I don't think "There Is No Day Or Night, No Moon Or Sun" is polish folk song.It is russian (or ukrainian, I'm not 100% sure) and I think Maniucha Bikont sings this in russian.
Thanks for the great (as always) review .

emelt said...

Great review. Love the line "to be overwhelmed, and crushed."

Stef said...

Hi Wojtek ... apologies for my lack of knowledge of Slavic languages. I'll change it.


ArtS. said...

The back cover of the cd states: 'traditional russian song', so that should clear the matter.

Sami said...

where can I order a copy of this??

tony said...

soon on instantjazz

ArtS. said...

You can buy from one of the Polish sites that have English language versions, like:

Anonymous said...

Bikont sings in polish using regional dialect.

Anonymous said...

It's not Polish, Bikont sings in Ukrainian.

jonathan said...

just heard it, it ended like two minutes ago, i just came to say thanks for the suggestion, since i think of your reviews as that.
Waclaw has been doing killer stuff lately i loved hera, both albums from undivided, definitively a musician to follow. Spiritual music, i love it, and on this one, i loved all the folk elements, i have always liked that kind of stuff world jazz as sometimes is called. World-spitirual jazz my favourite style of music.
Thanks waclaw for this experience.

Kenny said...

Along with Atomic's new one, this is the best album of 2012. Superb art that is deeply moving.

Phil Hollins said...

It can also be bought here:

Aaron said...

Hi Stef,
I heard this band on Jazz on 3 (on the wonderful BBC) and loved what they played. I bought this album and have to enthusiastically agree with the general consensus. The best CD of last year!

Aaron said...

I love that this band have all the time in the world to build and build. Definitely my best of the year.