Ciuraj, Wojciech - Iskry w popiele,
Released in 2019, this is the first in a trio of albums being released by Walfad mainman Wojciech Ciuraj telling the story of the three Silesian uprisings in 1919, 1920, and 1921. For those who are unaware, during its history Silesia has belonged to Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, and Austria. The uprisings took place due to a desire make Silesia Polish again, and Wojciech is a native Silesian who has ancestors who were on both sides of the conflict. Being a historian, he wanted to celebrate the centenary of the events and hence the triptych of releases. Anyone who has any interest in Polish progressive rock music will of course be a huge fan of SBB, one of the most important bands to ever come out of the country, and their original name was Silesian Blues Band, and it is incredibly fitting that multi-instrumentalist Józef Skrzek (who along with guitarist Apostolis Anthimos has been the constant) guests on this release.
Aimed at the local market, all lyrics are in Polish, while there is also narration from Polish actor Marian Dziędziel. This album tells the story of the first uprising, and Wojciech has wonderfully clear and powerful vocals. There is real drama within the music, and the combination of violin and viola with keyboards is incredibly powerful. There are times when it feels quite orchestral, but then the guitars break through to remind everyone this is a rock album first and foremost. I wish I was able to understand what is going on lyrically as it is obvious that the music and words are closely interlinked. At times it moves into crossover, while at others it is more symphonic and overtly progressive, and piano is often an underlying instrument. At times the use of acoustic guitar is also incredibly important, combining with the strings to create something quite beautiful.
Combined with the pictures in the booklet, it has led me to undertake some research of my own on this area of history, as it was something I knew nothing about, coming as I do from an island that made its business to invade other people but avoided being invaded itself since 1066. Although countries with Europe changed borders at different times, this release has made me think of the impact on the people actually living in those impacted areas.