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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mikołaj Trzaska - Dom Zły/The Dark House (Kilogram Records, 2010) ***½

It is hard to assess the soundtrack for a movie without knowing the movie, and it rarely happens that the music is sufficiently entertaining to stand on its own. Despite its inherent qualities, the same holds true for this album by Polish saxophonist and composer Mikołaj Trzaska, whose achievements have been appreciated before on this blog.

The musicians are Mikołaj Trzaska on alto saxophone, bass clarinet, taragot, farfisa and other keyboards, Clementine Gasser on 5 string cello, Tomasz Szwelnik on piano, Clayton Thomas on double bass, and Michael Zerang on drums.

Trzaska has written scores for theater before, and he manages to find a good balance between strong genre-bending compositions, and a very expressive performance. The ten tracks are in the same vein : from the sad over the menacing and the agonizing.

Some pieces are stellar, like the weird and horrifying opening track, the sensitive dialogue between clarinet and cello on "After Explosion", the gloomy, fear-drenched and hair-raising title track. But obviously the music has to support the action in the movie too, also at the emotionally more neutral moments. Most pieces are mini-suites, with themes and moods evolving in often very short time spans, and clearly determined by another logic than can be understood without seeing the pictures.

Yet, in soundtrack terms, this is without a doubt one of the most avant-garde I've heard.

© stef


Skald said...

The movie's great. I really recommend you see it!

Kukyukuwai said...

how did you find out about this, stef?

so far, the best movie in 2010 :)
I was kinda "hmm" - this was really meant to sound so. you can see mikolaj live with ken vandermark and zimpel at cafe kulturalna, april 29.