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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Marcin Oleś & Bartłomiej Brat Oleś - Other Voices Other Scenes (Fennomedia, 2010) ***

The ungrateful thing about a soundtrack without the pictures is that you cannot possibly imagine what is taking place and why the music is as it is. The same holds true for this album by one of my favorite rhythm sections: Marcin Oleś on bass and Bartłomiej Brat Oleś on drums. This double CD brings you thirty-six snippets of soundtrack for eight different movies, animations or theater performances. For two of those movies, the band is expanded with Łukasz Czekała on violin and Kuba Puch on trumpet, and with Jakub Urbańczyk on tuba and Jarosław Spałek on trumpet respectively. The Oleś brothers add other instruments as well, with Marcin playing double bass, piano, keyboards, acordeon and acoustic guitar, and Brat playing drums, percussion, gongs, tabla, marimba piano, keyboards, compositions

The end result is quite atmospheric but most of the time nothing more than just that : nice yet non-committal sound to accompany images. And that is of course partly the objective of the original compositions.

That being said, some of the tunes are really nice, almost in the same league as Evan Lurie, or even John Zorn's music for films : quite accessible, yet fresh minimalist pieces on which a few well-chosen sounds create a sad, or eery, or introspective, or menacing environment. That these environments are created by a few brush strokes by a few instruments is a stellar achievement. The downside is that like with all soundtracks, there is no expansion or exploration: the music is simple by definition : a theme needs to be set, easy in the ear because a first listen is all you get with your main attention going to the visual movements, and repeated several times to get entrance in your less attentive part of the brain.

A nice stylistic exercise, yet for the real thing, check out their real Duo album.

© stef


Maciej Nowotny (Editor) said...

I wholly agree with your opinion: it is a pity that we cannot see images that this music was intended to accompany. Still theater music may be very rewarding if produced adequately, recent example of such very attractive effort: