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