Kapela ze wsi Warszawa/Warsaw Village Band - Nord

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Warsaw Village Band
Jaro (www.jaro.de)

Warsaw Village Band’s newest release starts with straight-up Eastern European flare: a group of female voices singing monophonically, which leads straight into a well-paced cocek beat and a flagrant trumpet lead. Though titled Nord, the only element of Nordic-ness apparent is in the tune "Grajo Gracyki," where the band borrows a slängpolska tune (one that has been attributed to both Blekinge and Bohuslän – two different counties in southern Sweden). As the album progresses, the results yield mostly eastern-European folk-based fruit, often forced into an energetic and modern pop-rock context.

Throughout Nord, the monotony of the beats and bass lines backing up the traditional tunes yields quite a good degree of tedium, as does the songs whose melodies don’t change or develop: rhythm section in "Bendzie Wojna" never changes, "Polka ydóweczka" is 5 minutes of rather uncreative jamming on a single melodic line, and "Hola By ki Hola" beats the cocek rhythm to death, with some rather unsubstantial instrumental solos during breaks between vocal leads. The singing in "Musia a Ty Dziewce" features vibrato of an American R&B styling, and muted trumpet solos of an urban American jazz nature as well. "Gospodynie" (a traditional wedding tune from the Mazovian region of central Poland) has an interesting rhythm, but as presented here, it is sung down-tempo, which seems to pull out the joyous jarring bounce that folk tunes with odd time signatures so often have.

Although Warsaw Village Band makes several attempts to intensify and add density to the tunes, they tend to do so by adding more instrumentation instead of expanding what is being played, and so these folk melodies are simply beaten to death. The instruments used may be diverse and cross-cultural (frame drums, dulcimer, hurdy gurdy, etc.), but the lack of application of the fundamental aspects of music – dynamics, articulations, harmony, etc. – makes for a mundane experience. Nord is a rock-and-roll approach to folk tunes – which is fine, if the audience you’re seeking is in its earlier twenties, but perhaps not every jam session on a folk tune is worthy of being called an arrangement and recorded. The infusion of the soul of folk music with some the tawdriness and un-creativity of modern Western pop-rock is at once both oddly flattering and distasteful, and alludes to the idea that maybe the allure of world folk music is not what has been done to them, but what hasn’t. - Seth Premo

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