Landing in Warsaw for the first time last year, one of the first things I noticed was the love and respect for Chopin. The airport being called the Frederyk Chopin Airport kind of gave it away. Hence, my first lesson in Polish music turned out to be the fact that – contrary to what I had always lazily assumed – Chopin wasn’t a French man, living in France.
I suck, I know.
Since then however, I’ve undergone many late nights of arduous research on the master composer and national treasure, and am now officially Cultured. I’ve also made a conscious effort to seek out other fine Polish music. I’m no connoisseur by any means, but I know what I like, and I’d like you to know it too, so here are a few recommendations:
Poland’s sole representation on the UK’s Ninjatune music label, Skalpel mix one part moody electronics with two parts Polish nu-jazz, and their self-titled first album is my favourite find (Polish or otherwise) of this year. Here’s 1958, a chirpy track assembled from a multitude of samples of Polish jazz from the ’60s and ’70s:
And here’s the moodiness I mentioned:
2. Fisz + Tworzywo Sztuczne:
My newbie’s introduction to Polish hip-hop, pretty much all I know is that Fisz and Tworzywo Sztuczne (the latter of which translates roughly as “Artificial / Unnatural Material”) both involve the same guy. My favourite Fisz tune is smooth and jazzy:
…Whereas my favourite from Tworzywo Sztuczne is a bit dirtier:
A digital label run by two lovely Warsaw-based peeps, dedicated to bringing the best of a particular flavour of Polish electronic music to the rest of the world – all things deep, dark, dubby and delicious.
Their discography so far is small, but rich in tasty electronic goodness. Their stuff is available on places like Beatport and Juno. The track which brought them to my attention is Widow, from Cracovian knob-twiddlers Sentel:
The youngest on this list, Kamp are a threesome from Lodz specialising in a certain kind of 80s New Romantic synthpop that I have a not-so-secret soft spot for. They’ve played in Warsaw three times since I’ve been here, and they sound like they could’ve been best buddies with the Human League and Spandau Ballet back in the day – right down to the English accents:
Arguably she doesn’t count because she grew up in Detroit, and has since spent most of her life in Berlin, but shush – she’s awesome and she’s chock-full of Żywiec (the town, not the beer, silly) blood in her veins. Having only recently released her debut album (“From the Fallen Page”), she’s primarily a minimal techno DJ, and one of the world’s biggest and most respected at that.
She makes people do this (wait for 1:27):
6. Fryderyk Chopin:
He was really, really, good at playing and composing for the piano.