Release Date: 5 Apr 2019
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The more I listen to bands from Poland, the more I realise just how varied and deep the rock scene must be over there. Case in point: Blindead, whose sixth album came out in April without me noticing. It's unlike any of those other Polish bands I've been enjoying. Frankly, it's unlike much of anything I've heard. While a few comparisons do come to mind at points, I'm not used to hearing all of them on the same album.
Niewiosna, the eleven and a half minute title track, for instance, spends five minutes building textures before vocals show up to surprise us. The music continues to build anyway, melodic jangling guitars gradually fading into the wall of darkness that grows up around them. Drums are punctuation not accompaniment. The vocals are spoken rather than sung and spoken in a recitation as if this is performance art or sardonic ritual. Sans vocals, this could be a new wave song played at a third normal speed. With vocals, I'm really not sure what it is but it had my attention.
The Bandcamp tag that makes most sense is "experimental", but it's musical experimentation not noise, even when the album gets extreme. They also use tags as varied as alternative, electronic, post-metal and sludge. There's a lot of truth to each. What makes the band special is how they can combine it onto a single album and have it make some sort of demented sense.
It was Niepowodzenie where I started to grasp the point. It's the shortest track here by far, at just under five minutes, but the music is both perky and hypnotic. It's also extremely rhythmic, not unlike some of the work of Philip Glass. More importantly it's cinematic, even without the performance art vocals. It felt like something Wong Kar Wai might use if he ever made a giallo. There's suspense but there's dynamism and hints of story, like some young lady is being chased, but by what?
By this point, I'd looked them up. If Google Translate isn't misleading me, the band's gigs are often soundtracks to the films of Roman Przylipiak. I'm finding a bunch of short films on IMDb by him but I haven't seen any. I have to say that I'm interested in doing so now.
And what film would Potwór się rodzi accompany? It feels experimental from the outset, reminiscent of Andrew Eldritch jamming with Coil in slow motion. But then, it gets all doomladen in the midsection, more like Swans, but with some ritual drumming from Konrad Ciesielski and snippets of conversation. If that wasn't enough of a change, it soon adds in the electronica and goes off the deep end. Are we in a serial killer's basement watching him warm up his power tools? This is heavy stuff but not in any usual way. At least the end has a pulse.
I was completely hooked at this point, because the rollercoaster was moving faster and the seatbelts had evaporated and what is Ani lekkomyślnie, ani bezboleśnie? It's pure punk, with snarled vocals. There's Iggy Pop in there and Lou Reed and some sort of demonic creature. It's like someone was forced to transform into his inner beast during an Einstürzende Neubauten concert, while Celtic Frost watched.
Maybe that's what happens. When I put the song titles into Google Translate, I saw a progression. It didn't know what Niewiosna means, but the others are Failure, The Monster is Born, Not Reckless, Not Painless and Spring. Maybe it's a concept piece with science going wrong, creating a monster, trying to deal with what it is and eventually finding a dark solution.
I'm less fond of that last track, Wiosna, which is too subtle until, well, it isn't subtle enough. It gets even more out there, but this is magnetic and engrossing stuff across the board. Most people will hate it, of course.