One Bass Hit

Nifty percussion record by the young Polish player Milosz Pekala. This gifted fellow won his spurs at the Warsaw music academy and also studied at the Royal Danish Academy of the Arts. He enthusiastically embraces contemporary music in all its forms, including avant-classical, experimental electronic music, pop music, folk, and hip-hop beats – at least that’s what I assume emerges from the Hob-Beats duo of which he’s a member, with Magdalena Kordylasinska.

On Monopercussion 2 (BOLT RECORDS BR 1073) he plays six compositions by assorted musicians, including himself, working with his vibraphones, percussion, modified objects, and certain electronic interventions. Despite his classical background, the record is not a collection of formalised studies or exercises in technique – on the contrary, it sounds very contemporary, full of “modern” electric sounds and sample bursts, and informed everywhere by Pekala’s restless, curious, try-anything spirit of adventure. Among the standout pieces we have ‘Your Trash’ by the Porto-born composer Igor C. Silva, currently living in Amsterdam where he leads the subversive multi-media group Trash Panda Collective. ‘Your Trash’ is an energetic foray mixing sampled voices and noisy electronica in a loose unpredictable structure, driven by very modern-sounding dancey beats…even allowing for a brief splash of internet paranoia. There’s also ‘Eleven hard samba’ composed by Sergio Krakowski, who happens to be the world’s leading exponent of the Brazilian pandeiro, and runs an online video course on the subject. Milosz Pekala plays this piece with a strange mix of steely determination and minimalistic tendencies, almost as if struggling with the tricky rhythms; the resulting performance is filled with tension and odd gaps.

Pekala’s own work ‘Radio for vibraphone and tape’ leads off the album, and has a rich saturated vibraphone sound combined with outer-space impressions that makes this one a real “grabber” for the audience. Plus he’s duetting with sampled voices from Numbers Stations recordings, to continue that “paranoid” sub-text. In an alternative universe, if Milt Jackson had ever played with the Sun Ra Arkestra, one would hope we’d have gotten results as delicious as this. The closing piece ‘Raga 1’ was composed by the slightly more well-established composer Pawel Mykietyn, active in Poland since the 1990s and winner of the Knight’s Cross for his contributions to Polish culture. The form of ‘Raga 1’ indicates that Mykietyn has studied some of the same Eastern music sources as Terry Riley and Steve Reich, but come to his own conclusions; the process is given extra piquancy here with Pekala’s arrangement of the work, where he inserts his trademark pauses, gaps, and elliptical moments of tension, combined with a subtle instinctive feel for when to speed up and slow down the tempo.

Impressive set from a genuine music enthusiast and skilled percussionist; we seem to have missed the first volume of Monopercussion, which came out on this same label in 2018. This, from 2nd February 2022.

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