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CzesŁaw Niemen

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CzesŁaw Niemen Enigmatic album cover
4.04 | 174 ratings | 8 reviews | 54% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Bema pamięci żałobny rapsod (16:27)
2. .Jednego serca (7:37)
3. Kwiaty ojczyste (7:24)
4. M?w do mnie jeszcze (4:48)

Total Time 36:16

Line-up / Musicians

- Czeslaw Niemen / vocals, Hammond

- Tomasz Jaśkiewicz / guitar
- Zbigniew Namysłowski / alto saxophone
- Zbigniew Sztyc / tenor saxophone
- Michał Urbaniak / tenor saxophone, flute
- Janusz Zieliński / bass
- Czesław "Mały" Bartkowski / drums
- Alibabki vocal group / chorus vocals
- Romualda Miazga / chorus master

Releases information

Artwork: Marian Sanecki (photo)

LP Polskie Nagrania Muza - XL 0576 (1970, Poland) Mono audio
LP Polskie Nagrania Muza - SX 0576 (1970, Poland)

CD Digiton - DIG 108 (1991, Germany)
CD Polskie Nagrania Muza - PNCD 356 (1996, Poland) Remastered by Czeslaw Niemen
CD Polskie Nagrania Muza - PNCD 1573 (2014, Poland) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to silly puppy for the last updates
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Buy CZESŁAW NIEMEN Enigmatic Music

CZESŁAW NIEMEN Enigmatic ratings distribution

(174 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(54%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

CZESŁAW NIEMEN Enigmatic reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars This album is from 1969, the year of Woodstock where Joe Cocker performed With A Little Bit Help From My Friends. Listening to Niemen his music on Enigmatic I have the idea that the aformentioned song by Joe Cocker was a main inspiration, during the entire album I notice a bluesy atmosphere, layered with the powerfull and distinctive sound of the Hammond organ by Niemen (who also sings). But in the first song Bema Pamieci Zalobny- Rapsod (15 minutes) Niemen delivers not only organ but also choir, church bells and his six piece band includes a wide variety of instruments like saxophone, guitar and flute. A fine album with very emotional Polish vocals and Eric Clapton inspired bluesy gitar.
Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars My thoughts on this album are preceded with an apology up front that I’m sure they will not do justice to this album, which is clearly held in high regard by Niemen’s countrymen. I own it simply because I found it in a record store many years ago after picking up the 1974 record Mourner’s Rhapsody and being impressed by Niemen’s voice and his jazzy yet soulful compositions. I also have Ode to Venus, but find that one a bit more difficult to get into.

In some ways this album reminds me of Mourner's Rhapsody. On both albums there is a central, extended work that consumes half the record, filled with chamber choral arrangements and heavy celestial organs and stern strings. In the case of this album that song is “Bema pamięci żałobny rapsod”. In both cases the almost church-like music is broken up with Niemen’s emotional voice and more traditional jazz instruments – guitar, piano, saxophones, drums, plus flute in this case. In both cases my understanding is the works are based on traditional Polish poetry with some social significance. And in both cases the remainder of the album consists of a handful of shorter, lighter fusion numbers. On this album there are three additional tracks, “Jednego serca”, “Kwiaty ojczyste”, and “Mów do mnie jeszcze”. The latter two are well-done but fairly unremarkable jazzy tunes, while “Jednego serca” has some kick to it with strong vocals (complete with a female choral backing) and lively instrumentation, particularly in the multiple saxophones.

The vocals are what I assume to be Polish, so I do not have the advantage of having any idea what Niemen is singing about, but it really doesn’t matter. My interest in him is largely in his very intriguing voice, which I can’t help but compare to Joe Cocker in his prime, although Niemen has more range than did Cocker, and his voice is noticeably more melodic.

This is probably closer to folk rock in the strictest sense of the term, but the instrumental arrangements are very well-developed, and the musicians are all clearly among the best in the business at their various instruments. The saxophones (three of them at least) are especially strong, at times improvisational but rooted in clearly defined arrangements. I get the impression Niemen encourages contributions but has a specific outcome in mind with his compositions.

This artist is probably too far on the ethnic fringe for most music fans, but for those who have a healthy interest in world music, multi-textured jazz fusion from the late 60s, and very accessible soulful vocals, this album is definitely worth a few spins.

Here again our rating system is a bit restrictive, as I would say this is not strictly an essential progressive album, but it is much better than simply good. 3.5 stars would seem appropriate, but I’ll round up in favor of the quality keyboards, brass, and vocals and give this four stars.


Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am not Polish, but I was born and grew up just around hundred miles from the village ( in Western Belorus, which was a part Poland till 1939),where Niemen was born and spent his early ears. Later he was deported with thousands of other Polish families from their homeland by Russian occupants to Poland, kind of ethnic cleaning). And I perfectly know these forests and lowlands, and mystic all around of small villages. All these heavily influenced Niemen's music (and full his life).

This fourth artist's album is .... let say a mystic one for me. Just four compositions, but first one takes all side A. It starts with Hammond organ, but not in Lord's tradition. Big part of this song is just dark and mystic Orthodox (possibly more correct - Greek Catholic) church organ with church chorals and bells sound. Niemen sings very recognisable soulful and very passionable voice. I heard his songs from my teens (on Polish radio), so possibly I can't feel the same as just newcomer to this album. I feel strange deep, dark magic , but with bright lights here and there, when listening this song. It's very difficult to put this feeling on paper....

Three other songs are more usual ( to be honest nothing is very usual in Niemen early music) compositions. Mostly proto-prog, combining very soulful and melodic tunes with bluesy roots and many jazz elements (young future fusion sax star Michal Urbaniak plays his solos there as well).Interesting guitar solos and female back-up vocals. But most of all it's common atmosphere - if you will catch it you will love this music, if not - possibly it will be just next proto- prog album for you.

Magic album, based on Polish classic literature. If you understand Polish (as I am), this music will touch you even more. But not the music for everyone. If you're searching for something different from late 60-s - try this.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Niemen might be striking a Vincent Price pose on the front cover, but there isn't very much of the Gothic or horrific about this four-track collection of organ-dominated progressive compositions. Drawing on the Polish folk music tradition for material and motifs that set this one apart from most organ-centric late 1960s proto-prog, and Niemen's arrangements also slip in a choir here and there to add a little gravitas to proceedings. Slow and stately for most of its running time, this isn't an album which offers up fast-paced Emersonian keyboard wizardry - rather, it aims for the Enigmatic tone its title suggests and more or less attains it.
Review by ALotOfBottle
4 stars "Enigmatic" is indeed enigmatic!

With progressive rock still not being fully developed as a genre in its homeland, the United Kingdom, Czesław Niemen in Poland was creating very innovative and advanced music. What's more, he was doing it behind the Iron Cutrain. Consider that Poland was than a poor country ruled by a communist regime of USSR and it was definitely no fun being a progressive musician at the time.

Niemen's musical extract consists of elements of Polish folk music fused with soul and jazz sensibilities. "Bema Pamięci Żałobny Rapsod" is a side-long epic, which applies these influences. It starts out driven by church-like organ, which brings some of Focus' later sounds to mind, and is supported by a pastoral choir and tubular bells. Then comes Niemen's deep voice, similar to that of Joe Cocker, and the piece completely changes its flow with Hammond organ being put into a more soul-inspired scenario. Later on, we encounter an incredibly emotional bluesy guitar solo. The lyrics are a musical interpretation of a rhapsody by a national 19th century Polish poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid. A piece is really moving and expressive in every part and is definitely the highlight of the album. Side two offers more jazz-oriented pieces with superb bass-lines, a competent horn section and Niemen's great voice.

"Enigmatic" is a highly ambitious work of a proficient and inspired musician. It's without a doubt one-of-a-kind work and will make a great addition to every progressive rock fan's collection. I have had a little bit of dilemma whether it deserves four or five stars. A five star rating might be a bit missleading, this album having a few minor flaws, that some might find more bothering than I. In the end, four stars are more adequate. Add another imaginary half-star to that. Recommended!

Latest members reviews

3 stars Enigmatic, from polish Czeslaw Niemen, sounds like a good basic progressive album, where songs include all the basics: hammond organ, well executed guitar solos, dense and precise percussions, and depth high saxophone. This "Enigmatic" is a healthy and beautiful fusion between elements of ja ... (read more)

Report this review (#460745) | Posted by Diego I | Monday, June 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is said to be the first really progressive album of Czeslaw Niemen. It's a lot based on organs again, with a choir every now and then to give an original touch. The first song, Bema pamięci żałobny rapsod, sounds like a religious piece, with a church choir chanting the w ... (read more)

Report this review (#178170) | Posted by Passionist | Friday, July 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After all htese years - this record remains fresh. no one before Niemen (and no one after him) used Greek-catholic traditioal chanting in rock music (the opening suite). Niemen was the first vocalist using oriental ways of singing. Niemen composed wonderful themes and dressed them in modern, jazz ... (read more)

Report this review (#80867) | Posted by | Saturday, June 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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