AMN Reviews: Grzegorz Bojanek – Constraints (Etalabel)

Etalabel continues to gush fresh air out of its home office in Poland, while embracing an increasingly international profile, best illustrated by its growing, close cooperation with like-minded artists in China. Grzegorz Bojanek established the label in 2005 and his latest solo album is a prime example of the kind of open-mindedness the project writ large represents.

Bojanek explains that he came across the Internet group Disquiet Junto, created by author and editor Marc Weidenbaum, whose Oulipo-inspired “compositional assignments…use constraints to stoke creativity”. This he found immediately appealing insofar as he enjoys using “´less´ in order to create ´more´” and discovered an immediate kinship with its members. (Guidelines for each weekly project are presented here.) Meanwhile, Bojanek was so pleased with the results that he decided to release an anthology of his endeavours. As an added, self-imposed restraint, he packaged the album in handmade, limited edition digipaks stamped with stark, simple woodcut graphics.

While the oft-heard guitar, whether pounded electrically or plucked acoustically, always remains communicative, the “fields” are more oblique and opaque, switching from urban to rural, Poland to Japan. Constraints is close up magic, crumpling paper, twisting knobs and rustling fabric, opening with the tap-tapping of a computer keyboard cannily transformed into raindrops. Untroubled with a glockenspiel in the midst of the maddening crowd, work-booted on some industrial site or wrapping the hooting of a far-off owl in a pine-scented whirlwind, Bojanek´s “assignments” cohere as a single volume of concentrated thought conducted against capacious ambient backgrounds. Constraint´s great strength is its warmth and appeal way beyond a tiny interpretive community of like-minded sound potentialists.

Stephen Fruitman