Jacaszek – KWIATY (Ghostly, 2017)


A collection of pieces styled out of old-English poems and built on fractious and decayed orchestration, KWIATY all at once manages to embody the spectrum of emotions that we have lent flowers and their many varied species: the romantic rose for the lovers; the dainty petals picked off a billion daisies by adolescent crushes; bouquets left to rot at poignant locations by the roadside. Ultimately they’re all bittersweet, their beautiful visages slowly decaying miserably like the rest of us, their flurry into life and love as transient as our own.

The interior pieces hold the most romance, with the aptly titled mid-album “Love” twinkling into life on little toyboxes and xylophones, delicately creeping out of the mix in hesitant but playful tickles. It then segues directly into the angelic croonings of Hania Malarowska (who makes a notable appearance on many of the pieces here) in “Soft Music”, her voice reduced to a palatable mush, muted vocal peaks shining radiantly through the textural mulch that supports her. At once it feels empowered yet somehow distant, turned around, spiralling dangerously into confusion; how could we get lost when such emotional surety exists?

Beauty resides in copious levels elsewhere, such as the gorgeously sensual “To Perenna”; suggestions of voice spin out of the dusty drone waves that enshroud the piece, harp pickings only adding to the sensitivity of Hania’s croonings, slipping in and out of English and, presumably, Polish which only seems to heighten the power of the sweet nothings whispered. Its organic flow and yearning solo whisperings find themselves juxtaposed by penultimate piece “To Blossoms”, a track that seems on the cusp of collapsing as it splits its electronic bleepings to the soft pluckings of guitar and gentle piano strokes. Jacaszek serenades her openly here in this almost brazen love song, yet one that is filled with the same sad ephemerality and resignation that permeates the rest of the record.

Shadows seem to linger over everything, ghosts of the past that seem content to do nothing other than remind us of absences, past failures and unforgotten loves. “Daffodils” feels unusually unseasonal and disharmonious, not sharing in the Springtime life but rather moving on its own shimmering and kaleidoscopic buzzings, angelic voice slipping through the cracks somewhere but unable to quench the resentment at Life’s rebound. How long will these feelings persist, where can we turn to escape? “Eternity” presents a dangerous possibility in its hearty 7 minute run time, white noise filling the gaps that the orchestration doesn’t touch, violins providing their own mournful arias.

Perhaps closer “Gardens” presents some opportunity for distraction as it floats by in gusts of radio static, spoken words drifting past in tattered fragments as it descends into obfuscating drone oblivion, a fog bearing down on the mind that hides both the good and the bad, its ambivalent grey tones forcing neutrality at a time when it should be promoting optimism in the year’s most dramatic months.

I can’t tell you what you’ll find for yourself in KWIATY’s flowers, their meaning as personal and intimate to you as if by passed by a close friend or family member, its meaning every bit as complicated and important. However it feels, it will always sound as beautiful as the flowers of its namesake look, if only for a moment.