Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: The Warsaw Village Band – Infinity

The band name is sardonic since Warsaw isn’t exactly a little village. In recent days the group’s press has stressed how many modern western influences there are on this cd, but most of them don’t really show. With lyrics in Polish, layers of otherworldly vocal harmonies and a haunting, alternately lush and rustic wash of violins and cello tastefully augmented by dulcimer, accordion and percussion, Warsaw Village Band’s new cd on upstart Brooklyn label Barbes Records has the same darkly minor-key, atmospheric feel as much of their previous work. Better put, they sound like what John Cale was trying to do on Venus in Furs and might have been able to pull off if he’d had any idea what Balkan music was all about. This album is scary-good in the purest sense of the phrase.

 

The intensity kicks in right off the bat with the cd’s first track, Wise Kid Song, set to a fast 6/8 beat, the group’s three women harmonizing over a catchy descending progression driven by staccato strings. At the end (western influence!) they run the strings through a phaser, 60s psychedelic style. Track two, 1,5H rides a hypnotic, suspenseful pulse with layers of sepulchral, contrapuntal vocals, big cymbal crash at the end to wind it up. Then they bring it down with Over the Forest, with a little bit of a hip-hop rhythm but with the sparsest drumming imaginable. Of all the tracks here, the next cut, the catchy Skip Funk is the only one that makes much of a nod to current commerciality with turntable scratching and an Afrobeat feel.

 

The rest of the cd is mostly a black angel’s death song. Is Anybody In There is simply a hypnotic chant over a martial drumbeat; Heartbeat sounds like a Polish amalgam of Black Sea Hotel and Carol Lipnik, darkly dramatic vocals over a hypnotic, bluesy melody. Polska Fran Polska has the violin echoing the Anitra’s Dance theme by Grieg over a stately, anthemic one-chord drone that jumps to life like a golem when the dulcimer comes in, then falls away at the end, down to just pizzicato violins. After that, two more ominous, incantatory one-chord jams, another march, a Weimar blues and a partita beginning with a swirling gypsy dance that slows down and gets all ambient before picking up at the end with the drums. Not something you want to put on late at night and fall asleep to unless you are a brave soul (and recommended for brave souls everywhere, regardless of whether you speak Polish – we can’t vouch for the lyrics one way or another). Since they’re on Barbes Records, a New York date – at least at their home base – shouldn’t be out of the question, watch this space for updates.

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April 8, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top Ten Songs of the Week 4/6/09

In case you haven’t noticed, the nucleus of the crew here went to the Beefstock festival over the weekend. Consequently, much of this week’s Top Ten was inspired by those two deliriously fun nights, one great band after another. All the links here will take you to the individual songs or bands with the exception of #4 and 5 (nothing online for either of them – sorry, we can’t stop loving the obscure stuff).

 

1. Gillen and Turk – Dear Mr. President

A funny and completely spot-on period piece, high point of the past weekend.

 

2. Paula Carino & Walking Wikipedia – For the Modern Day

Carino dragged this catchy one by her old band Regular Einstein out of the archives and slayed with it onstage on Saturday.

 

3. Tom Warnick & World’s Fair – Keep Moving

Like the Doors but in the best possible way, carnivalesque and dramatic with eerie organ and fiery guitar.

 

4. Peter Pierce – Party’s Over

First-class Americana janglerock anthem, the kind of tune that runs through your head after the weekend’s over.

 

5. Livia Hoffman – Sorry

Sorry, as in “sorry’s what you are,” by one of the Beefstock headline acts.

 

6. Girl to Gorilla – Next Weekend

Gorgeous janglerock anthem from one of the nicest discoveries of the past couple of days.

 

7. Thy Burden – Sandy

Not a Springsteen cover – this is an uncharacteristically dark, minor-key tune by NYC’s most exhilarating bluegrass improvisers. They’re at Connolly’s on 4/10 at 11. 

 

8. Kristin Hoffmann – Infinity

Dark epic Chopinesque grandeur. She’s at the Canal Room tonight 4/7 at 8. 

 

9. McGinty White – Everything Is Fine

Purist pop from the former Psychedelic Furs keyboardist and the brilliant, literate underground NYC songwriter with characteristic lyrical snarl and bite over a pretty pretty tune. From the forthcoming cd McGinty & White Sing Selections from the McGinty & White Songbook.

 

10. Supermajor – Kaleidoscope

Super major key catchy janglerock.

April 7, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment