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Kwiaty Review

by Paul Simpson

Kwiaty, Polish composer Jacaszek's second release on Ghostly International, was inspired by the works of Robert Herrick, a 17th century English metaphysical poet. On this album, Jacaszek's electro-acoustic soundscapes are joined by dreamy, elegiac vocals from Hania Malarowska, Joasia Sobowiec-Jamioł, and Natalia Grzebała, who provide stunning interpretations of Herrick's simple yet dramatic poems. While Jacaszek has frequently incorporated vocals into his work, this is easily his most lyrical, accessible recording to date. It also contains some of his most daring sound design yet. The arrangements here are much fuller and more expressive than his past works, combining intense digital processing and countless layers of ominous pianos, mournful strings, grainy guitars, and other acoustic instruments into a dense yet airy mix. The vocals are slightly buried, and the lyrics are often hard to discern, but their haunting melodies resonate clearly, recalling Broadcast on songs like "To Violets." "Daffodils" is the closest Jacaszek has come to writing an ethereal darkwave anthem, with sheets of guitar fuzz and plucked strings floating on top of slow, ticking, waltz-time beats. On pieces such as "Love," certain textures appear to be dissolving into mist, yet a sporadic, fragmented pulse seems to thread everything together. Jacaszek's machines seem to be inhabited by ghosts, and his graceful tunes are riddled with drifting, crushing noises. So much is happening, yet it seems like everything's full of holes, or that something's vanished or changed into a different state of being. The entire album is stirring, surreal, and unspeakably beautiful. With Kwiaty, Jacaszek builds on past triumphs like Treny and Glimmer, taking his sound sorcery further than before and resulting in some of his most engrossing material yet.

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