Adam Gołębiewski, born 1984, is a Poznań-based percussionist, musicologist and sociologist avowedly seeking to extend the “anatomy, sound and expressiveness” of the drumkit. On Pool North (Latarnia), this translates into solo percussion workouts of raw, fervent and, sometimes, explicitly violent intensity – a complete contrast to the fastidious studio constructions of the last-reviewed Blossom Bells, an album by percussionist Erland Dahlen.
Latarmia’s press notes stress that the Pool North recordings are all live and unedited takes on “entirely acoustic compositions, produced on a jazz drum kit with conventional microphone system”. The album cover says simply “drumset, objects” – concert reports describe Gołębiewski utilising plastic forks, sheet metal and battered cymbals. And sure enough, lead track “Straight, Mute” presents a frictional, low-thrumming rotary whorl capped by surface screech and scrape, all suggestive of some obscure industrial process recorded and replayed at half speed.
Gołębiewski’s process on “Decay” is more identifiable: a scouring of chains and objects across the kit’s variously taut and metallic surfaces, and intermittent bass drum pedal-detonations agitating an otherwise fidgety implicit rhythm. Sticks are skittishly deployed, sometimes used to scrape up harmonics from vibrating cymbals.
“Left Hand Shake” follows on with bass drum hits studding a junkyard clutter/rainforest gamelan of gongs, cymbals and sundry smaller, sharper-sounding metal objects.
The next title “Ellington Tradition” may nod to Duke Ellington and the jazz tradition, but the piece so called is all corrosive rasping, sounds apparently generated by close-miked, stressed and abrading cane rutes ground onto taut skins and unyielding metal surfaces. And “Half Blame” sounds like the rotary abrasion of stacked cymbals, amplified into something like the modulated feedback of a circular saw (if such a thing is possible).
“Manner and Timbre”, the only cut on this short album to outlast six minutes, focuses on amplified sounds of rubber mallets run over drum membranes and ribbed metal scoured over rims. It’s hard to believe these noises aren’t multi-tracked or at least finessed by some sort of processing. And yes, despite its rawness and aggressive immediacy this music does sound finessed. And yes, it is musical, after an industrial, electroacoustic fashion.
The standout and final track, “Glass of Seawater” amplifies what may be spittle finger-rubbed over cymbals, or perhaps the sharp sonics of ‘singing glasses’. It’s very much like a hydrophone recording of gongs in water, transmitted over a badly wired tannoy system.
The focused intensity of these performances is astonishing. In an intimate live setting, I imagine the effect would be electrifying. As it is, the clean, clear articulation of sound on these recordings conveys every detail of the grits in its grains with clarity. Turn it up for a sonic abrasive blasting that will simultaneously cleanse and coarsen your ears.
I can’t tell you much more about Gołębiewski, except that In 2012 he recorded Divided By 4 (Multikulti Project) with Fredrick Lonberg-Holm on cello, Piotr Mełech on clarinet, and Witold Oleszak on piano. There are more also more recent pieces by Gołębiewski in trios with Lonberg-Holm and Ken Vandermark, and Thurston Moore and Alex Ward on Gołębiewski’s Soundcloud page – alongside three pieces from Pool North. Give them a listen.
Adam Gołębiewski jazz drum kit, objects.
Buy Pool North direct from Latarnia.