SEA 28 | Pawel Grabowski | [Arh]
begin at the beginning.
It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible black,
the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood
limping invisible down to the sloeback, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing
sea. The houses are blind as moles…”
[Under Milky Wood]
how it starts, a book that for me is a perfect companion in the times
of trouble. And the music for ARH is based
on such time in my life. A time when I lost almost everything, home,
personal belongings…and ended up being dependant on other peoples good
will. ARH was recorded some time later,
but as a reaction to that time, during the process of contemplating
what happened and getting over it, turning it into just another story.
And everytime I listen to the album, it all comes back…like a story…so,
to begin at the beginning…."
Pawel Grabowski, September 2005
Grabowski is a polish expatriated composer & musician...
His first steps in music were as a doublebass player with faction MIASTONIESPALO
(1998-2000), a prized chamber music trio using cello, accordion &
After playing his final note with the band, he went solo & started
working with electroacoustic music combined with field recordings, releasing
his debut on german LAUB label ("Diarakth" 7" EP) a pervasive
In 2002, relocated to Ireland, he refined his skills, creating along
the way his own imprint SILENCE IS NOT EMPTY records...
His debut on it was "Glitch Letters", a much less drony, microtonal
a study of silence...
Combining the experiences from playing microtonal and improv, he elaborated
further his own musical language, again based on slow textured sensitive
drones studded with minimal sounds & concrete elements...
This return to drones first saw daylight on "Cirr's songs",
a 7" recorded for DRONE in 2005. Since then, there has been an
appearance on the portuguese CRONICA label and on a few other compilations,
and much more is in the pipeline...
Pawel's MS contribution "Arh"
is a quasi exorcizing movement in 4 parts,
the reflection of a personal troubled period...
"Arh" is a house of healing sounds
where water oozes from cracked walls
like sudden visible tears after a stupefied silence...
static drones make the rooms breathe
& swirling, circling patterns breed frozen moments of sheer contemplation,
condensed waves of emotional depth...
"Arh" pictures an inward wreck
a disappearance, & its engraved memories
echoes of our errant life...
"Arh" flows solemnly
dissipating all our fears
and in its spectral traces
lie the seeds of redevelopment...
03. > listen
Little by little the name of Pawel
Grabowski is getting around. He hails from Poland and played
double bass in Miastoniepalo from 1998 to 2000. Since then he plays
electro-acoustic music, moved to Ireland, released 7"s on Laub
Records and Drone Records and a couple of CDRs. Here he appears on two
new releases of which one is his first real CD release, and both releases
will certainly bring his career further. On Mystery Sea, Grabowski
offers four deep rumbles of sub-aquatic sounds, entirely conceived in
the zeroes and ones of the computer, but capturing quite nicely the
label's esthetic of deep ambient music that sounds like it is recorded
below the sea-level. Unlike some of the other artists on Mystery Sea,
Grabowski's pieces sound actually more like songs, with vague
hints towards rhythm (such as in the first of 'Arh')
and in every track a bit of melody. The water hits upon a shipwreck
and the picture becomes clearer: the music is the search for an old
boat, set to electro-acoustic
music. Quite a beauty this one.
Should we be afraid of the day Pawel
Grabowski turns into a completely happy man? Even though it
is a sorry myth that great music inevitably derives from sadness and
misery, his fascinating musical diary seems like an endless lament:”This
album dealt with the experience of death”, he writes about the final
album with his former band Miastoniespalo, an experimental chamber music
outfit, and "Diarakth”, his first offering as a solo artist, “was
recorded when he was very sick”. One of his following two works took
shape “during a very lonely Christmas Evening” and the other was about
drowning. So it should seem as though this album, a reminder of troubled
times, only continues the theme. Admittedly, “Arh”
is not the kind of music you would want to play on your child’s birthday
party. The greyish cover alreadys sets the mood for a somnambule set
of the loneliest tracks imaginable – musical material is scant, sparse
and stripped down to a scary sceleton sleepwalking on a full moon night.
Part I and III of this composition in four movements use a two-layered
approach to create an intense effect : while bleakly shimmering drones
breath and heave a sigh in perfect isolation, bizarre noises open up
the gates to a strange land: Doors are creaking, bolts are locking,
metallic parts are moaning, tiny drops of water are trickling down the
cavern walls. The other two pieces are even more intimate, allowing
plains of longing to swell and shift, passing by the mind’s eye in a
surreally slow tempo.It is in these impressively deep and infinite tracks
that the transformation takes place, which allows “Arh”
to stand apart from the usual Dark Ambient works. For they succeed to
somehow take the listener closer to a truth within himself instead of
pulling him down a bottomless hole. A ritual of healing, therefore,
a place of refuge. Even its stupendous power hasn’t as yet saved our
hero, though – Grabowski’s current album is still called
“Notes from the house of dead”. Which is maybe not the saddest thing.
While we sincerely wish Pawel Grabowksi all the best
in the world, we wouldn’t mind if he doesn’t turn into a completely
happy man right away.
4 stars out of 5
Polish artist Pawel Grabowski
may still be defined a newcomer in the drone niche if we judge him by
the number and dates of his releases, but he's surely one of the best
in terms of quality. This limited-to-100-copies cdr on Mystery Sea,
featuring four untitled movements, is much in the same mood of his excellent
vinyl on Drone Records; I haven't been able to check it out, but possibly
there are some recurring sounds as well. As usual, Grabowski weaves
some solemn, at times sombre soundscapes; though we surely couldn't
call this dark ambient, I'm positive there are some restless nights
behind his works. "Arh" is an excellent realease from start
to end, with incredibly pure and mesmerizing drones, at times punctuated
by field recordings, as the creaking door in track 3. Nothing new in
terms of components, but just listen and you'll see how Grabowski stands
out from the rest.
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