Ciuraj, Wojciech - Dwa żywioły,
2020 saw the release of the second album in Wojciech’s triptych about the three Silesian uprisings. Interestingly, he decided to take this album in a different direction musically and brought in a totally new group of musicians (who themselves are primarily Silesian), to create something that had a broader base. This means we get the likes of renowned Polish jazz trumpeter Piotr Schmidt and legendary hip hop singer Abradab of Kaliber 44, as he blends hip hop, jazz, blues rock, film music and progressive rock. Also, this album contains only five songs, with “Four Rivers Suite” itself being 25 minutes long. Each part of “Four Rivers Suite” relates to a different Silesian River, the Rawa, Brynica, Kłodnica and Odra. They combine to tell the turbulent story of The Second Uprising and together provide descriptions of events that not only date back to those turbulent days, but contemporary Silesia as well.
One of my complaints with the first release is that I really wanted to understand what was taking place in the story, and although this has again only been released in Polish, this time the booklet contains lyrics in both English and Polish, so it is possible to follow the narrative. At the beginning of the booklet there are two pages of words, but the combination of the font, colour, background picture and sheer size, makes it impossible to read with the naked eye. Taking photos and blowing them up allows me to understand that this is detailing what happened, in both Polish and English, but I do wish it had been further spread out, so it had been more legible.
As with the first CD in the series, this is packed full of drama and emotion, as Wojciech sings about what happened in his homeland one hundred years earlier, as Silesians fought to become part of Poland and move away from Germany. The whole musical approach is quite different though, being truly more progressive as he blends in different instruments and styles. Somehow it feels broader, with more depth, and the passion and power contained with “Andrzej Mielęcki”, whose murder kicked off the Second Silesian Uprising is incredible. The way that piece contains punching electric guitars and mandolin provides wonderful contrast. It is the mandolin which also leads us into the longest song on the album, “Four Rivers Suite”, but that soon gives way to symphonic prog and wonderful piano rising above it all. Yet again, the area was at war with a country it saw as an occupying enemy, and we feel that in the music, while the river ebbs and flows. This is by far the most musically complex, as Wojciech gives himself the time and space to bring this part of the story to fruition.
This series is an incredibly personal piece of work, with Wojciech shining a strong light on area of history that many of us in the West just have no idea at all even exists. I look forward to hearing the culmination.