Wojciech Rusin is a Renaissance man for the 21st century. This year alone, he has already released two albums showing his compositional genius and multi-layered inspirations.
Translation: Aleksandra Szkudłapska
Do you think of yourself as a music fan of polish music, and yet you’ve not heard of the man before? Wojciech Rusin has been making music for a few years now, but has so far slipped under the radar in Poland. His most recent album has only been noticed by Bartosz Nowicki of Gazeta Magnetofonowa.And yet Rusin has given us plenty of opportunities to appreciate what he’s been up to: the amazing Animalia released under the moniker Katapulto (Sangoplasmo, 2011), where he created five tracks in five languages about five different species of animals or the more recent Powerflex (Olde English Spelling Bee, 2015). Ever since the latter record saw the light of day, I’ve been waiting for Rusin’s next move – and this year surpassed my expectations. I do not mean to say he’s been idle in the meantime – he spent previous years making music for theatre productions and art installations (you can admire the scope of this activity on his website). In fact, The Funnelis a direct consequence of his project prepared for Radiophrenia festival of radio dramas and sound-art. However, the record functions brilliantly as an autonomous entity – the musician skilfully juggles between various aesthetics, which he is able to originally juxtapose. The opening “Paolo’s Dream” is a true gem of autotune, which gains a dignified, choral dimension. The baritone “Salvation” is contrasted with “First Encounter”, which resembles a score to a horror movie taking place in a boiler room, and is later counterbalanced with violin parts tinged with noise. The record culminates with “Cyclops” – a fantastically planned stereo journey through sound, musical gloom, industrial and elements of musique concrète, all of which come together to create a poignant narrative.
This is a baroque, opulent album – classical inspirations are interlaced with chamber music, dense grooves with texts alluding to the Occult and pious songs, which all end up under subsequent layers of musique concrète anyway. You can treat it like a radio drama, but the musician brilliantly combines inspirations from a number of sources to create his own imaginary version of reality. What’s most important is that instead of rehashing ideas, he marks out an entirely new path across this post-modern collage, analysing sound with exuberant energy. Choral vocals, field recordings, folk melodies, and noisy polyphonies make for a surprisingly natural combination, and The Funnel entrances the listener like a multi-faceted (or even multi-channel) story.
Yet Rusin also has a different face: as Obsidian Teeth, he shares his electronic and mystical world from a different perspective. His album, evocatively titled Pius Rebus, is where dark dubs are fuelled with sonic experiments and medieval sounds. This is a peculiar type of futurism, where compositions gain an old-fashioned, solemn atmosphere. Compared to The Funnel, this album is more electrified, structured into songs, which makes the narrative more coherent and builds dramatic tension.This is a peculiarly occult vision of experimental club music, immersed in dub or grime (necessarily with the prefix ‘post-‘, like the amazing “Mud”). The contrasts are immerse too: medieval brass sounds juxtaposed with metallic industrial in “Tubular Body” or with synthesizer melodies and simple, synthetic beats in “Arabic Tunes”. Everything works as a whole, though – a yet another example showing how a broad palette of inspirations may produce a thought-out, multi-layered, yet thoroughly coherent result.Rusin is a down and out original artist, and these two albums are a tour-de-force of his compositional ideas. If you’ve not heard about him before, it’s high time to make up for that.
Wojtek Rusin, The Funnel, Akashic Records
Obsidian Teeth, Pius Rebus, Ceramics