Boomkat Product Review:
Essential 10th anniversary reissue of Polish mainstay Piotr Kurek's crossbreed of early electronics, 20th century minimalism, and kosmische music - something like Laurie Spiegel, Raymond Scott, and Philip Glass, via Elysia Crampton.
Warsaw-based artist Piotr Kurek put together 'Edena' after a run of releases for labels including Portuguese imprint Crónica and Digitalis Limited. It appeared initially on his own Sangoplasmo label, before being snapped up for reissue by Italian experimental stable Black Sweat, and while it fits neatly into the experimental landscape of the era (think Francesco De Gallo, Rene Hell, and Emeralds), it might make even more sense now. This year's 'World Speaks' was one of the most lightheaded sets we've come across in a while, carefully simulating memory with odd-bod MIDI vocal sequences and boss-eyed organ solos; "Edena" puts it further into perspective, revealing not only the root of some of Kurek's more recent material but a similar desire for batshit artistic fusion.
Kurek buffs a little of 20th century minimalism's sheen away, reimagining Philip Glass's weighty scores or Laurie Spiegel's meditative synthwork by piercing it with the Radiophonic Workshop's giddy, gleeful fatuousness. Kurek makes serious music that doesn't take itself too seriously; it's not sloppily put together, but there's no way to listen to the operatic MIDI voices on 'Goddess Eye' without picturing Kurek's wry smile. By using sounds in this way and blending the perceived cheapness of MIDI soundfont elements with relatively more elevated modular synth and organ bleeps, Kurek makes a subtle statement about the hierarchy of sound.
If a single track is removed from the whole experience, it might not make complete sense - in a vacuum, a track like 'Becoming Light' might just sound like a gently shifting cosmic soundscape. In context, it breathes life into Kurek's teeming landscape; 'Tonal Colors' comes quickly afterwards, weaving pitch-fucked sampled vocals into the same Reich-cum-Delia backdrop of chiming synth blips and nursery organs, and it's clear Kurek is trying to usher us into his private surrealist hedge maze. The seemingly looping phrases don't quite match, and each wordless vocal "ooh" takes on more weight now that computer-rendered voices have become so commonplace in the TikTok era.
In some ways the album sounds like an attempt to reconcile the echoes of an analog past with a democratized digital future, and Kurek's evenhanded treatment of all his sounds shows us that our projected value is nothing but that - a barely-audible whisper of the past that no longer has any relevance when one sample is basically the same zeroes and ones as the next.