A fine new band springing and evolving from Poland's village dance music revival. Its name, meaning "turmoil" or "storm", is pronounced "Za-veeah-ROO-ha". And this news just came in: Zawierucha won the Grand Prix at Polish Radio 2's "New Tradition" awards 2021.
Piotr Zgorzelski, player of basy (cello-sized folk bass), teacher of village dance and ex-member of the revival-pioneering Janusz Prusinowski Kompania, is joined, on violins and octave violins, by one of the revival's new young stars, fiddler Kacper Malisz from the Kapela Maliszów family trio, and Marcin Drabik, a leading fiddler in traditional, jazz and rock fields, plus Kamil Siciak on traditional and non-traditional drums and percussion.
There's a great variety of approaches here, as the group takes interesting contemporary steps away from the typical traditional sound. Zgorzelski describes the band's mission thus:
"The use of old and modern instruments, the use of old and modern rhythms, stylistics and musical techniques is intended to be a bridge linking tradition with the present times, so that the old dance rhythms, of mazurkas, obereks, kujawiaks, polkas, wiwats, can be reborn into modern everyday life – life that is dramatically different from village life 100 years ago."
But all of it can be danced to in the traditional way, and springs from band members' deep knowledge and understanding of village dance music. They've all been involved in the revival that's being going on in recent years in a new cherishing of, and learning from, surviving elder village musicians whose latter years have been elevated by all this new interest and respect.
The opener "Wiwat Fortuna," with its twin fiddles, and the basy (cello-sized folk bass) playing plucked notes rather than its traditional role as a rhythmic bowed drone, could almost be a Nordic tune. Wiwat is a dance form from Wielkopolska region; the word means cheers. Here is a very-non traditional solo dance approach to the piece by Mikołaj Karczewski.
The title track "OberTany" starts dark and slow, developing into a medley of obereks with the raw, swirling, angular, compulsive repetitiveness of fiddles over odd-seeming syncopation from thudding drone of stick-hit frame drum and basy that listeners might be familiar with from the revival-pioneering work of Prusinowski Kompania, and of the village musicians who are the source. (The title is a play on two words, meaning roughly "Play me another dance." It is also the name of a dance tune from south Poland, which the band does play but not on this album. )
"Mazurek Freestyle" begins with the fiddle and octave fiddle slithering slow lines across one another, before picking up rhythm into an improvising duet in the lurching 3-beat of mazurka. There are a couple of tunes, "Zazdrość," a kozak (Cossack style dance) and "Punk Polka," that wouldn"t sound out of place in the repertoire of an English country dance band.
In the kujawiak "Księżycowe Miasto," after a mysterious start, two octave violins build and build in imperious triple-time into a wild excursion over deep pounding bass drum and cymbals. The set of speedy beat-skipping obereks "Bobowski Shinkansen" reminds of Norwegian gorrlaus in its compulsive madness. The kujawiak "Między Nami" ("Between Us") starts lyrical, moves into an almost rock-like groove with basy and drumkit, before opening into a spaciously floating extemporisation of fiddle and octave fiddle that heats up to an improvising scamper over the slow basy pulse. "Oberkowy Potanć" brings more wild thrilling of twin fiddles, over the traditional oberek bang-crash percussion playing in what seems, to the uninitiated, to be a whole other rhythm but the dancers know otherwise.
"Ja Ciebie Kocham," the only vocal on the album, is a poem by 19th Century Polish poet Adam Asnyk sung by Zgorzelski to the traditional tune "Kosa," incorporating a chugging waltz before bursting back into top-speed.
There's no physical CD yet, though it's a possibility in the future, but the album can be listened to and bought online with a name-your-price offer, as well as being on the streaming services.
Find the band's music online.
Janusz Prusinowski Kompania
Kapela Maliszˇw and WoWaKin
Orava - Panorama Of Folk Song And Music Culture