Boomkat Product Review:
The Polish clarinetist and composer follows strong work alongside Shackleton and James Holden with an album that takes the sonic pulse of Warsaw, using repetitive sounds like trains and bouncing balls to guide his peculiar rhythms. This deluxe edition has been beefed up with a special 15-minute live recording.
Although he's best known for his forward-thinking jazz experiments, Wacław Zimpel has spent the last few years developing a relationship with electronic music. 'Train Spotter' is his most convincing work to date, and was created in response to a brief asking him to capture the sound of Warsaw. Zimpel wanted to reflect the city's contemporary reality, tying up pandemic unease, anti-government demonstrations in the wake of sexism and queerphobia, and the hopefulness and second-hand resilience gained from successive waves of Ukrainian refugees. Piping samples of Warsaw through his arsenal of FX and synthesisers, he fogs them into blissful abstraction. We can just about make out tramline clicks on the Vladislav Delay-influenced title track; Zimpel's own production twirls lock into the rhythms, sketching out a dubwise percussive thud and dizzy, kosmische-inspired synths.
The methodology holds throughout the album, on 'Phantom Paradise' a placid urban landscape is pierced by palpitating synths and Zimpel's characteristic woodwind breaths, while 'Infinite Grey' assembles a soft-focus beat from ASMR shuffles and wooden creaks, providing a dusty backdrop for stuttering, psychedelic threads of clarinet. He veers towards chaos on 'Born in Captivity', chopping dissonant electronic blasts over rainfall samples and splattering pacy kicks beneath freeform horns. But Zimpel is most successful when he allows himself to paint outside the lines, like on the lengthy 'Vanishing Rainbow' that melts from gloomy environmental ambience into Reich-ian, repetitive electronics, then incorporates unexpected microtonal flute wails. The mood is maintained through the final track 'Broken Souls Whistle', that matches pitch-wonked whistles with pulsing Berlin school synths and gritty foley crunches.
The additional 'Train Spotter (Live at The state51 Factory)' is evidence of Zimpel's performative prowess. The original track is turned into a pulsating, fractal thump, and when Zimpel joins on clarinet, he adds a playful vitality that was missing from the original composition.