Earlier this year I reviewed the riveting, vital jazz hip-hop mixtape that was Błoto’s “Erozje”.
Błoto are a subset of the larger format, Wrocław based, “reconstruction from deconstruction” jazz improv sextet that is EABS (Electro-Acoustic Beat Sessions). EABS “pursues the tradition of the Polish school of jazz, while escaping various sound patterns, presenting a carefree and completely original approach to genres and established musical standards”. This philosophy was evident in Błoto and not at all alien to Saturn’s most famous son, Sun Ra. So the idea of EABS developing a ‘Polish Space Program’ is both creatively and logistically sound while appearing to be metaphysically well funded too.
Last year, after 3 decades of waiting, the archive recording of the Sun Ra Arkestra’s first landing in Poland was released to the public – it influenced not only an EABS honourary concert but also the recording of a session of de and reconstructed Sun Ra material that formed this album, “Discipline of Sun Ra”.
“It’s after the end of the world, don’t you know that yet?”
“Brainville” anchors on its original riff but brings the aesthetic forward by 60 odd years. Spiritually enlightened and freely expressed, Maricn Rik (drums) and Paweł Stachowiak (bass) keep it wide open to allow Olaf Węgier (tenor sax) and Jakub Kurek (trumpet) to harmoniously explore the cosmos. It’s an ultimately mollifying experience. “Interstellar Low Ways” continues with the feels, its comforting, sensual space-warbles rests a compassionate hand upon our aching selves, stroking away our anxiety and assuring us things will get better.
“The Lady with the Golden Stockings (The Golden Lady)” is a bit nervier, influenced by London nu-jazz, and maybe 90s crossover attempts, as lo-fi juke beats, drums and synths circle around a relentless, tight horn motif. “Discipline 27” highlights the plight of those poor out-of-tune-with-the-universe souls that have no music that can coordinate with their spirit. It projects ever forwards with taught beats and a tenterhooks dropped bassline as Wegier and Kurek, in turn, hint at both the vastness and urgency of their plight.
“Neo-Project #2” is deceptively laid back at first before Węgier reaches out with a series of revolving, orbital motifs and Kurek pings and sputters before an eventual return to a slightly less at ease version of where we came in. The oh so smooth “Trying to Put the Blame on Me” has Marek Pędziwiatr (piano) caressing, schmoozing, night-sky twinkling his way across a subservient, rim-tapping beat and horns that gently pump and sway, showing us a better (milkier) way.
“UFO” is an upbeat exit; a joyful noise; an infinitely glossy, early 80s space funk with punchy bass and slick synths that support the truth that “Somewhere else on the other side of nowhere, there’s another place in space, beyond what you know as time, where the Gods of mythology dwell…These gods dwell in their mythocracy, as opposed to your theocracy, and your democracy, and your monocracy. They dwell in their mythocracy, a magic world. These Gods can even offer you immortality.”
This album is much more contained than I expected. I thought it would be pretty out there and more self-indulgent than it is. I’m pleasantly surprised and very grateful. It has a wisdom and a titular discipline that shows respect for its heritage and our future. It’s uplifting, warming and occasionally beautiful. It’s an exercise in shining light on our collective darkness, an escape from the limiting focus of our limited view. And it leaves me hoping that the Polish Space Program can continue to receive the metaphysical funding it needs to continue its cosmic explorations – for the good of all jazzmankind.