Trynka: Przesyt

Navel-Gazers #12 is an interview with Łukasz Trynka who is going to talk to us about Przesyt. 'Przesyt' is a definite contrast to the free-form improvisation which has been our stylistic locus here at Navel-Gazers... 50 minutes of densely-orchestrated avant-prog music, a recording that could easily be mistaken for the lost basement tapes of Magma or Samla Mammas Manna - this is a change of gears. There's also another ingredient in the mix here - you could call it improvisation but knowing Łukasz, we could also just call it pure mayhem - and it's all the more noticeable since the compositions, which much have been assembled carefully, seem to be ever at its mercy. I know Łukasz from the improv world, as I know many of the Navel-Gazers - and so when he shared 'Przesyt' with me I was surprised and glad to know of a fellow traveller, someone familiar with a relatively arcane and frankly unfashionable approach to music that has always interested me. Let's find out more.

AC: I think I've found the right translation for "Przesyt", although the pronunciation remains a mystery... it's Polish for "glut". Whenever you've spoken to me about this album you seem almost apologetic of its density and breadth. Just the other day you referred to 'Przesyt' as "overpacked". Personally that's what I like about it! So how did the glut become the glut? It sounds as though you treated this as a sort of repository for all your ideas which kept piling up?

Łukasz Trynka: The Glut can be read on many levels.

The first and most fundamental relates to my character and history. Since I was a child, I was very hyperactive, with a tendency to colour reality. The grey communist reality, as well as family discipline, was a world of insufficiency, so the defence mechanism was to create a fuller and more colourful world. My hyperactivity pushed me towards sport and as an 11-year-old wrestler, I encountered punk rock through my older colleagues and that's how my adventure with music began. I expressed my tendency to exaggerate in my texts fighting against the injustice of this world. Communism has collapsed, reality has become more colourful, but also uncertain and chaotic. The transformation, although full of pinchbeck and new frustrations, made it easier to access music, usually bought on pirate tapes. It was also easier to buy drugs. My town was a noise enclave - with loud music we felt bigger, and weed made us forget about small-town complexes and built a sense of uniqueness. This feeling was so strong that I had been playing in a band that hardly played concerts and did not record any albums for 15 years. We started with noise under the sign of the Dazzling Killmen, through free jazz - inspired by the Scorch Trio - ending with impro noise with repetition and electronics.

The second level relates to the times we live in. Too much information, lack of focus, inability to listen. Recognising that I listen more often to compilations than to full albums, I decided to create one, thus closing a certain chapter of my solo work marked by the Mifunefune (plunderphonic) and Dissmental (hip hop double bass with voice) projects. 'Przesyt' is a collection of recordings from the years 2007-2018. The album includes rejects from sessions of the above-mentioned projects, songs published in new versions, new songs and a song by the guitar duo Pirigunpiri. Density, emotion and diversity. Density which comes with the musical form, emotion which comes wtih the lyrics, and the diversity of the stylistic range (jazz, noise, rap, contemporary music, dedicated songs, plunderphonics), the compositional techniques, and the different subjects raised by the lyrics.

AC: Since it covers such a long timespan, it makes sense that 'Przesyt' relates to both your early life and the current day. In fact this is part of what I find so interesting - it's one thing to come across music that's obviously very intricate, it must have taken a lot of effort to create... but the way that you developed this material over time is what strikes me as truly unique. Is this true of any of the individual pieces? Which material is the earliest? Is any of this sequenced chronologically?

Łukasz Trynka: Most of the material was created in London, where I've lived since 2013. The exceptions are Zerokilopop, my first-ever fun with samples (TTC, Penderecki, Vandermark, Paal Nilssen-Love) done in Audacity in 2007, and Reksio by my guitar duo Pirigunpiri, from 2011.

Moving to London was a big change. The symbol of this change is Szkic, a piece which had a certain significance, but was never finished. At the same time I was working on the Dissmental album Songs About Fucking Nothing; rap primarily for double bass and voice. The starting point was the song Bad Rap - kind of a joke about the narcissistic part of hip-hop culture, rapping about rapping, big egos etc. This piece had several versions, the final one is on 'Przesyt'. It's based on double bass and voice, sampled drums and guitar. It is densely exaggerated.

AC: Good way to describe it! You mention your guitar duo Pirigunpiri, and you are actually writing to me from a "Pirigunpiri" email address! Ok, so I know "piri piri" but what is Pirigunpiri? Who was your accomplice, and are there any other collaborators anywhere on 'Przesyt'?

Łukasz Trynka: I was always lucky to play with people who were better musicians than I was. One of them was a guitarist Radek Pietunow - together we made Pirigunpiri. We started as a guitar duo with a plan for a quartet with a drummer and a keyboard player, but having really good drummers in our main bands (Żerafał, Niematotamto) with huge expectations we were struggling to find the right person. After 2-3 months of playing and 4 songs done, Radek left with his girlfriend and decided to move back to his family town, thereby killing this band.

The other person present on the album is actually Radek's drummer from Niematotamto - Trener, who appears on 'Bad Rap'.

After many years playing with the same fellas, it's hard to start a new, hopeful and intense journey with others. Also, family life doesn't help me find time for a serious sacrafice. I've become a lonely runner.... on the one hand I don't have to compromise, but on the other I miss teamwork which always opens your music vocabulary and builds new language. For that reason, from time to time I improvise at open mic sessions... My new album though, will have many guests.

AC: This is a story to which many musicians can relate, I'm sure... so what about the newer material?

Łukasz Trynka: The other songs were created after 2016, when I started my adventure with playing the drums. The use of Ableton was revolutionary for my compositions - I used new techniques to create Nonsense Jazz 1 and 2, Co?, Nic Nie Wiem, a piece strongly inspired by Art Zoyd. And 'Co?' was based on cut-and-paste bass improvisation, to which I added drums and electronics.

Głód, Jeszcze Polska, and Blackstar all have a song-like character and were made in Logic. All of them have emotional lyrics. The first is about a break-up, the second is a political piece against right-wing extremism in Poland, and the third is existential, written the day after the death of David Bowie. In the case of the first song, the guitar and the vocal samples came first, the second one was built around the melody of the voice, and 'Blackstar' was created around the piano.

Basically, when I start working on a piece, most of the time I don't know what will happen next. I leave a lot to blind chance or improvisation or even mistakes. When I create such diverse material as 'Przesyt', I deliberately break these compositional patterns, trying to meet my own limitations, looking for a new path. I also have an extensive library of double basses and post-effects guitars that I either use or take as inspiration. I feel that I am enriching my language by playing different instruments and using different methods and composition tools.

AC: It's notable to me that you mention "1970s jazz orchestras" - most casual listeners don't associate 1970's jazz with orchestras but some of the most exciting music from that period came from large ensembles didn't it? I'm thinking of American artists like Sam Rivers, Sun Ra Arkestra, Liberation Music Orchestra, Jazz Composers Orchestra... are there specific artists that influenced your 'Nonsense Jazz'?

Łukasz Trynka: I became a fan of jazz big bands around 10 years ago when I first heard the Jazz Studio Orchestra of the Polish Radio. That was a band with the top Polish players of the time like Wróblewski, Namysłowski, Seifert, Milian, Trzaskowski, Stańko, Urbaniak. They were under the influence of Coltrane, very powerful stuff. I started to search for more, and found lots of great albums recorded under the Iron Curtain - most of them you can find here.

I highly recommend Muzyka Baletowa i Filmowa by Jerzy Milian & the DDR Radio Big Band, and the more funky Jazz Orkestar Radio-Televizije Beograd.

AC: These are very new recommendations to me. My weekend is sorted!

So, I'm curious about the process behind those pieces and also 'Nic Nie Wiem'. It's obvously you "orchestrating" and playing everything, did you write or plan anything out at the beginning of these? What is the starting point - the melodies, the drums...? I get that you leave a lot open to improv and chance but how exactly does the idea form at the beginning?

Łukasz Trynka: When it comes to the composition process, it's boring! As I mentioned before, I prefer to improvise rather than have a plan. With Ableton it's all about filling clips with the sound and launching new "scenes". I usually start with double bass (or any low-frequency instrument) or piano, build a whole scene (all the clips in a particular timespan) and then go to the next scene and do the same. Then I merge some of the scenes, cut them, record an improvisation while launching different scenes, change some clips. Lots of cut and paste, loops, different techniques and sounds. The drums were the last thing recorded on these.

I never really think about melodies. I'm more focused on frequencies, arrangements and rhythm. I try my best to surprise the listener with the unexpected - for that reason I use a linear structure with lots of changes. I love repetition, but I try to avoid building tension from silence to loudness, and instead play with rhythms. Frankly speaking, rhythm seems to be the most important thing to me. For a new track I'm working on, I started by recording drums, with no idea what will be next.

AC: It's true that this is a little bit of an inside-baseball discussion on the mechanics of Ableton, but I don't find it boring as it leads us to a very universal insight which is that you are animated by rhythm.

In my introduction I emphasised how different 'Przesyt' is to the music we normally cover here. I did cover one album that's a bit proggy - Vince Carr's Rekindled - the thing is, these two albums couldn't be more different! I think maybe it comes down to this thing about rhythm... Vince had a similar comment but it was exactly reversed: melody first, everything else after. With you it's rhythm first. So if you don't mind I wonder if you could elaborate on your "adventure playing the drums", mentioned earlier...? Could this be the superhero origin story for 'Przesyt'?

Łukasz Trynka: The drummer I played with in Żerafał was a magician and his drumming was colourful like a rainbow. Great technique, a head full of fresh ideas, outstanding musicality. I had no reason to sit behind the drums having such a monster in the group. When I moved to London I started to enjoy dancing, finding it similar to drumming. I bought two Yamaha DD-55's, which I tried to pretend that I could play, and fell in love with the physicality of the instrument. I recorded all my drums on the album with these kinds of toys.

I consider myself a fake drummer. I don't use the head (that's what makes me the guy from the cover!), I play with the limbs. It's an emotional thing. To be fair I haven't built my coordination and cannot play exactly the same thing twice. Most of the time I improvise, as a kind of meditation... or I record samples. Always with the feeling that the drums have become my main instrument.

AC: This puts things into perspective and explains what we're hearing.

I was having a look at the cover... after your description of all this hyperkinetic creativity it's funny to picture you carefully cutting up these small pieces of paper! At first I thought these were just random scraps but then I noticed Salvador Dali... and I was just thinking about your comments from earlier about "colouring reality". Is this still your motivation for music, even though you are no longer a kid growing up under the Iron Curtain? Have you ever ventured into visual arts to literally work with colour, or only music?

Łukasz Trynka: There are a few different aspects of motivation but all of them you could easily fit into the phrase "to be". Creativity gives me a driving force, a power to believe that I'm still young, full of life. It might be so called "colouring reality", or possibly it's that I'm old and devastated by life, but in the end that kind of self-defence makes my life a bit easier! Making music is a part of my daily routine where I can immerse myself in what I'm doing with the feeling that it's important, it makes sense. I don't have a mission to change the world, I just want to compose and play, to colourise my own world, to have a feeling that I'm not wasting my spare time.

When it comes to visual art - it is not my piece of cake. I had a plan to make CD boxes manually, and I gave up immediately. I'm planning to do some animated videos on my phone while using public transport, hopefully I will be more determined with that.

AC: That's a nice existential thought, "to be". Maybe living and art are not so separate!

I'd like to wrap up by asking you about your next album. I noticed a similarity to an artist I previously interviewed, Lara Jones - her first album was a little like yours in that the material built up over time as a culmination of a lot of ideas she'd had up to that point. Actually my first album was like this too, and you have to imagine that whatever comes next is going to be pretty different after you have cleared all the original ideas from the deck. So your next album, is this all new material? Who are your special VIP guests? What can you tell us about it?

Łukasz Trynka: The next album is in progress, so a lot might happen. I would definitely like to achieve sonic coherence and use a specific set of instruments. I will also try to make it more homogeneous, although the fact that I will compose each piece using a different instrument may make the task more difficult.

So far I have a short list of guests - Jacek Wanat who has been recording at home for years, Piotr Mełech, clarinetist known for his collaborations with Michael Zerang and Fredrick Lonberg-Holm, Piotr Łyszkiewicz, saxophone - a great open-minded talent, he plays almost everything and his latest work Psychogeografia is awesome, and Klaudiusz Kwapiszewski, a genius, a great drummer but also a vocalist, you can hear his singing here.

AC: More weekend listening!

Łukasz Trynka: The list might be longer, but it's generally new material, new sounds and new adventures.

AC: Awesome... well I certainly would like to thank you for talking to me. Your Glut superhero saga inspires me and I hope more people will get a chance to listen to this remarkable album!

Łukasz can be found as Trynka at Bandcamp and YouTube, and on SoundCloud as Dissmental and Mifunefune.

Popular posts from this blog

Zhu Wenbo, Li Song, Yan Jun: There Is No Music From China (compilation)

Bablicon: A Flat Inside A Fog, The Cat That Was A Dog

Natalia Beylis: Library Of Sticks