Ksiezyc, “Rabbit Eclipse”, Penultimate Press, PP19CD (2015)
Krolikarnia palace, where this ambient folk band’s second album was recorded in 2015, was originally a royal rabbit-hunting ground, hence the palace’s name which means “Rabbit House” in English. The venue inspired the album’s title and themes of loss and eclipse as well. The artwork on the album’s front cover is a study in whimsy, in which a trainer supervises a load of little lagomorphs racing around a circuit of obstacles including a tunnel, rings of fire to jump through and a seesaw.
A mix of Slavic folk, minimalist style, drones and melancholy bordering on a fatalist resignation of life with its sorrows as well as its glories, “Rabbit Eclipse” is imbued with deep sadness, a forlorn air and the passing of ghost fairy voices. On some tracks, eccentric clarinet adds another layer of gloom and longing for better times; on other tracks this role is performed by accordion. Each and every song is an elegy to whatever’s been lost, not only rabbits and what they may represent for people (exuberant sexuality and fertility, the rejuvenation of the world). As elegies go, the stand-out track is the dirge-like instrumental piece “Flazoletowa”, an exercise in extreme looping avant-garde folk minimalism with a touch of ghostly mysticism in the keening voices. Violins scrape away, a toy drum clatters and clarinet tootles despondently in a queasily languid liquid environment where things reach out to one another but somehow fail to meet.
Later tracks are even darker and more forlorn than what came previously: “Walczyk III” follows the desultory adventures of a lone clarinet over a tinny metal piano accompaniment; and “Syreny” plays like a long despondent and unhappy goodbye with lethargic clarinet and voices.
When the album finally comes to a close, life in general seems sadder and more bereft of the little joys that make our own lives more bearable and give them the purpose and meaning they would otherwise lack in a world obsessed with control, routine, the elimination of risk and adventure, and endless machine repetition.