Kamil Kowalczyk “Nova”, PPLCD02, Digital/CD Digipack Limited Edition of 250 copies, release date 17.01.2013
The album has nine tracks of psychodelic space ambient drone music, inspired by space travels, science fiction movies, and undiscovered galaxies in the Universe...
1. Vital Weekly
KAMIL KOWALCZYK – NOVA (CDR by Prototyp Records) A new release for Polish born, but currently residing in Edinburgh electronic musician Kamil Kowalczyk and like on ‘Aurora’ (see Vital Weekly 770) information is quite sparse and like that, this one seems to be tapping into the same cosmic field. The difference is that as opposed to two longer pieces, the pieces here are much shorter, but still have sufficient length to tell a cosmic story. That’s perhaps the other thing that is a common factor for both releases, that the ‘mood’ level is quite high, but on ‘Nova’ it is also developed further, explored deeper. The nine pieces here, spanning some seventy minutes explore the nature of pulsars, cosmic debris and black holes, through the paths of cosmic music, and with it’s radio voices (in one case I think I heard the same as one on ‘Patashnik’ by Biosphere, but I might be wrong), it has that S.E.T.I. approach, the quasi scientific talk. Like with the previous release, I’d say all of this is fairly common ambient music, but Kowalczyk does a fine job in creating it. Nothing new or groundbreaking, but it sounds excellent. With the grey, snowy weather of the last weeks, this is a perfectly fitting soundtrack for short dark days, and long darker evenings. In these pieces Kowalczyk matured his debut, expanded on the ambient themes and developed his techniques to create more interesting pieces. A fine move forward. (FdW)
2. Morpheus Music Reviews
Abstract ambient and sci-fi soundscaping.
Nova is a shady, minimalist drone-immersion experience. Grey, mechanical pads and humming drones mass into sound clouds that gently heave or throb; flow in purposeful tides and currents or waft and dissipate. These smooth and matt electronic textures are built up in complementary layers often shot through with subtle, yet interesting effects or faint impressions, suggestions of life or artificiality. Snatches of spoken word, blurred and distant drift into the mix – some grumbling and deep in pitch like slow-motion giants, some less distorted although still fleeting, echoing or remote so as to obscure the information offered. The overall impact of Nova is one of stark isolation, sparse low-light space noise where chordal variation is often close to imperceptible, drifting uneasily among fluctuating densities.
A glossy digipack of two panels: artwork for Nova retains the minimal approach of the music. Images of space, heavy and grey fill all panels, lit with varying degrees of stellar brilliance. The front and back covers open into a panoramic whole where luminescent galaxies glisten with myriad stars. There is a tracklist in dark lettering on the rear that gives the times for each piece and a footer that provides credits, label, website and contact information. The inner pair of panels pick up a horizontal brightness that crosses over from the front cover running across to the disc – no words here just visuals.
Edinburgh based Kamil Kowalczyk comes originally from Poland and has been experimenting with electronic sounds since the mid 1990s. Having released a number of mp3 albums US via netlabel Zenapolae, Kamil now delivers his music on his own Prototyp Produktions Ltd label. Nova is the third release on the artist’s own label and follow-up to the 2012 release Atmospherics. The nine recordings on Nova are all of mid-length from the shortest four minute thirty-four Nebula II to the eleven minute twenty-eight Andromeda; in all something just over seventy-five minutes in total. The Prototy Produktions website holds sound samples, videos and live performance information and the Kamil Kowalczyk band camp page also provides listening and purchase opportunities.
3. Chain D.L.K.
Kamil Kowalczyk, originally from Poland, now based in Edinburgh, Scotland is a minimalist electronic musician who has released six albums in mp3 format on the U.S. net label ‘Zenapolae’ and another in CD format (‘Aurora’, 2011) plus this one available in CDr and digital download. If ‘Nova’ is any indication of what he’s been up to, I’d say Kamil is certainly someone you might want to check the back catalogue of. ‘Nova’ consists of nine sort mostly lengthy pieces, with one short one at 4:33. From the album and track names, you can tell these pieces are “space-oriented” (as in outer space), but don’t expect anything akin to classic ‘space music’. This is actually much closer to the coldness and sterility of space, or as it might be imagined. The soundscapes are primarily composed of drones of various colors, tonalities, and densities, using different LFO and filtering techniques to blend and contrast them. Voices, sometimes echoed, sometimes not occasionally appear, some seeming like astronaut/mission transmissions, and others, eerie disembodied voices…in space. (I won’t spoil your experience by telling you what they say.) As minimal as the soundscapes are though, there is still an amount of aural variety in sonic events and incidentals. Throughout the course of the nine pieces you will likely feel you are traversing the void, and experiencing light cast from the stars, shimmering and shifting in your perspective. At a point in the recording there almost seems to be a dimensional bending, as if space was being folded. This is a very heady album and I’d encourage listening in both headphone and open speaker environment to experience it fully. ‘Nova’ is certainly one for more contemplative, relaxed moods when you can take the time to fully absorb it. If you haven’t listened to this kind of music since Tangerine Dream’s ‘Zeit,’ and loved it, I’d say this is a ‘Must Buy’. (Album is limited to 250 CDr copies.) It is very deep. You could easily get ‘Lost in Space’.
4. The Sound Projector
Now in his second decade of computer composition, Nova is Kamil Kowalczyk’s third release since starting his own label, Prototype Produktions, in 2011. It continues the predecessors’ survey of a similar palette of spatial atmospherics with a curiosity almost scientific, though being more continuation than innovation one might consider the title a misnomer. The space-themed track titles of these cosmic meditations supplant the science fiction themes of (album #2) ‘Atmospherics’ with science fact. The music exhibits shades of familiar electronic work, from Pan Sonic to Boards of Canada, whose cheerless new album hums at times with the same lunar impersonality, along with hints of slow-burning cinematic forays such as Alien, 2001 and Solaris.
It is an entrancing listen, however, marked by an expansive, pulsating sound, woven into which are intermittent snatches of radio speak, transmuted into unintelligible garble, looped and reverbed into the immeasurable black void. Identifiable phrases emerge and fade to inaudible mumble like senile numbers stations signals sucked inside out. The effect places the listener somewhere between floating dream and inescapable nightmare – with an immanent, unknown aspect to every situation.
I find the formula works best with the longer tracks: ‘Andromeda’ displaying the greatest dynamic disparity of swelling and contraction over its eleven elongated minutes, while the oceanic rumble of ‘Solaris’ epitomizes the penetrating intelligence of the liquid planet that imperceptibly probes visitors’ memories. The piece hums with a definite, but unspecified alien intention, slowly succumbing to entropy in its dying minutes. The penultimate track, ‘Pleiadis’, reproduces some of Pan Sonic’s hiss-serrated mechanical rhythms to pulse-quickening effect.
Being variations on a single theme – carefully crafted albeit – tracks possess little (save for volume and tempo) to distinguish themselves from one another, but the signature traits are well deployed. The dynamic oscillation between passive pulsation and supernova expansion exposes the listener to alternating atmospheres of menace and star-struck wonder. Kowalczyk could just as easily have created a single, long-form work (which would mesmerize in a live setting), though I prefer the accessibility of the 9-track format, which makes the experience more digestible. It’s a commendable piece of work, illustrating a singular patience and focus.