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CzesŁaw Niemen - Niemen Vol. 2 [Aka: Marionetki] CD (album) cover


CzesŁaw Niemen


Eclectic Prog

4.73 | 24 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars In 1972 Niemen released a pair of self-titled albums. The fact that they're titled Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, as well as the sonic continuity between them show that they were intended to be one double album. In 1994 this vision was finally realized with the release of Marionetki. Oddly, though, Vol. 2 comprises sides 1 and 2, and Vol. 1 is the second disc.

I don't speak Polish. At best, my two years of Russian in college can allow me to make educated guesses on occasional individual words. Thus, I'm not sure if the lyrics of these twinned records fit the spooky Halloween theme. The tone of the music is often creepy and oppressive, though, and it's always engaging.

"Marionetki" ("Puppets" or "Puppet Men" per the back of the physical copy I own) kicks things off with eerie organ and gongs, topped with some ritualistic-sounding vocals. The mood is immediately dark and dramatic. Elements of soul and gospel music are evident in Niemen's singing. The minimal instrumental makes this an effective introduction that sets the stage for what's to come.

Following this is the 14-minute "Piosenka dla zmarłej" ("A Song for the Deceased"). Icy, warbling, growling keys open the song on a disorienting note. Avant-garde jazz elements are obvious in these first moments as instrumental elements swell and ebb. Chaotic organ runs and guitar lines eventually converge into an ascending riff that leads into a mellower, soulful verse. Niemen's voice is powerful, passionate, and characterful. As the verse ends, the song enters a brief jam. Guitar and bass battle it out over swirling organ, and brass embellishments are brought in for the next verse. The vocal and instrumental sections of this song are fairly distinct, but both are fantastic. They express the versatility both of Niemen as a songwriter and of SBB as musicians.

"Z pierwszych ważniejszych odkryć" ("Of the First Major Discoveries") opens with an oddly-metered guitar line, followed by an ominous, wailing, doom-y passage. The verse is pared down and gentle, with hints of folk and jazz floating in the background. Tension builds as Niemen shouts his words and the guitar nervously wobbles. After a flashy, bluesy guitar solo, the song moves into a strange, drum-forward section punctuated with the occasional yelp or guitar lick. At closing, the song revisits an earlier calm and jazzy theme. The interlude "Ptaszek" ("Little Bird") follows, and it's a minutelong vocals-and-guitar piece that draws from Slavic folk traditions.

Closing out Vol. 2 is "Com uczynił?" ("What Have I Done?"). The opening guitar chords are jazzy; the tone is warm, though the notes themselves are full of anxiety. Niemen's powerful, expressive voice is again the focus over this minimal backing. When organ and percussion eventually enter, it only adds weight to the track. Moving past the verse, the music takes an evil-sounding turn. Organ and guitar work in tandem as a squealing trumpet bleats a plaintive line. This movement is followed by an organ solo full of rapid runs and jazzy flourishes. Following this instrumental passage, the track ends on a quiet, mournful note.

Review originally posted here:

TheEliteExtremophile | 5/5 |


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