Words by Tim Cumming
Romance-soaked waltzes Tom Waits would kill for
This is a real find: a remarkable family trio comprising Jan Malisz and his two children,12-year-old Zuzanna and 16-year-old Kacper, performing wildly kinetic mazurkas, polkas and the kind of haunted, lurching dances Tom Waits must dream of in his sleep. These are old tunes, remembered and recomposed from their source in the Pogórze region on the edge of the Caparthians – a pungent melting pot of Polish, Ukrainian, Jewish and Lemko cultures.
The trio debuted at WOMAD this year, their music powered by Jan, Kacper’s impressive and varied fiddle work, and Zuzanna’s raw and freshly cut voice. She plays cello as well as frame drums and homemade baraban drums, stoking the dances and the more free-form, improvisatory workouts with cross-cutting rhythms. Jan’s hurdy-gurdy and accordion add strong shafts of musical chiaroscuro to the picture. Five of the 16 tracks are traditional; there’s a fine set of polkas, slow and lopsided like a dangerous smile, alongside richly atmospheric originals from Jan and Kacper. Much like the way Leveret treat English dance tunes, Kapela Maliszów have marked deep tracks into some remarkably rich, borderless traditions from the edge of northern Europe – and with a strong urge to make it new. Packaging and artwork are also extremely distinctive, so don’t just download this one – it is an object you will want to own.
Watch Kapela Maliszów at WOMAD 2015