Jacaszek - Treny (2008)

on Saturday, 16 October 2010
Each time I listen to this album i'm left wondering why it took me so long to understand it, to see what all the fuss was about and to fall totally and utterly in love with it. Without doubt Treny has a firm place in amongst my favourite ambient albums, a worthy contempary of albums like The Fun Years - Baby, It's Cold Inside, Grouper's Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, Phill Niblocks Touch Strings, BvDubs Prayer to False Gods and Eluviums Lambent Material. Its sound is so soothing, deep, not warm, almost eerie in places, but generally enchanting, maybe even spiritual, certainly angelic, the kind of album that demands to be listened to through headphones and certainly a grower.

Spoiler : What Boomkat and Miasmah Said :
Marsen Jules, Arvo Part, Zbigniew Preisner's soundtrack work for Krzysztof Kieslowski, Deaf Center, Max Richter, Erik Satie, Alberto Iglesias - if you are familiar and in awe of any or all of these names then this latest album on the exceptional Miasmah label will no doubt end up on your essential listening pile for the foreseeable future. Jacaszek has managed with "Treny" to assemble an album so heart-stoppingly beautiful and personal that we've been stunned into silence for its entire 55 minute duration. With string arrangements provided courtesy of Stefan Wesolowski, the foundations of the album are set with Cello and Violin painting fragile outlines coloured by subtle electronic manipulations, harp, piano and reduced, haunting operatic voices. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Michael Jacaszek doesn't make use of any samples, with everything on the album assembled by the musicians on hand (notably Maja Sieminska, Anja Smiszek-Wesolowska and Wesolowski and Jcaszek themselves) - and the subtle grandeur of the album is almost impossible to take in over one sitting, even if the impact is absolutely immediate. This is the kind of album that you just cannot believe a bijou imprint like Miasmah is able to lay its hands on - such is the scale of its success that it feels like a hugely important piece of work, far outweighing almost anything else we've heard in the modern classical field these last eighteen months. Cinematic without ever feeling contrived, "Treny" is surely one of the most impressive, mystical and astonishing albums of the year - we just cannot imagine that anyone listening to it will fail to be utterly bowled over and taken in - listen to the previews and you'll get an idea of just what we mean. Deaf Center's Miasmah label has slowly and carefully assembled a life-changing catalogue of releases designed to enrich and expand our musical horizons, and with "Treny" they have just delivered their most complete and compelling musical statement to date. We absolutely implore you to check this album out, one of the year's most important releases thus far. ESSENTIAL PURCHASE.


Michal Jacaszek's 'Treny' is the seventh release from Norway's Miasmah label - a label that has already created a unique and distinctive identity for itself through a string of releases existing in the darker side of the musical spectrum. Bringing together a variety of musicians and composers from around the world, each artist shares a similar aesthetic and a penchant for introspective, lamenting, classically-influenced music. With this in mind, no better home comes to mind for the new album by Poland's Jacaszek - in fact, it could even be argued that 'Treny' typifies the Miasmah 'sound' and encapsulates everything that is so gripping about the label right now.

The opening track, 'Rytm to Niesmiertelnosc I', sets the dimly-lit scene perfectly. A beautifully arranged string quartet and a lonesome female voice are framed with waves of distant underwater rumbles and creaks, with fragments of harp occasionally breaking to surface to release mournful motifs onto the dense musical canvas. It could be argued that the talent that Mr. Jacaszek holds is in his perfect blending of acoustic and electronic sounds, inasmuch that it is hard to tell where tape loops end and forlorn violin melodies begin.

By the beginning of the second piece, the appropriately titled 'Lament', Jacaszek has already firmly established a sound for himself. Clearly influenced by the liturgical compositions of Henryk Gorecki or John Tavener, with a healthy pinch of Angelo Badalamenti's mood-setting soundscapes, Jacaszek manages to find his own niche somewhere between Murcof and Francois Tetaz's indispensible score for 'Wolf Creek' - somewhere dark and mysterious but ultimately beautifully rewarding and moving.

There are traces of optimism in these songs, and as the album ends with 'Rytm to Niesmiertelnosc II', the clouds turn from a heavy grey to a uplifting palette of autumnal shades as a subtle rhythm emerges to gently guide the listener into lighter pastures. Despite the somewhat uplifting ending, as the last note strikes you may find yourself wanting to turn back into the darkness and start the whole adventure again. Wrap up warm, and carry enough supplies for many years of repeated listening...