Niechęć — Unsubscribe
Take a full spoonful of post-rock ambience, add a generous sprinkling of electronica, a hint of jazz-fusion and a daring dash of prog. Shake vigorously, then let the concoction settle.
Find a comfortable chair, dim the lights, turn up the dial, sip the potion slowly and immerse yourself in its mood-forming, imagination-colouring and shape-shifting effects.
Niechęć are Michał Kaczorek (drums), Maciej Szczepański (bass), Rafał Błaszczak (guitar), Michał Załęski (piano, keyboards, lap steel guitar, voice), Maciej Zwierzchowski (saxophone), and guest electronics from Sebastian Witkowski. Ever since Unsubscribe featured in my list of best albums for 2022 so far, I have been meaning to put hesitant fingers to the keyboard to express my feelings about it.
Unsubscribe is a group effort. The compositions were arranged by the band, and writing credits are attributed to three of its members. Zwierzchowski composed Argot , Praga, Niechęć and Epilog. Załęski composed Przeniesienie and Chmury. Szczepańskia and Załęski wrote Puste Łąki and Ciała.
The quartet's third studio release is a memorable experience. The music flows and ebbs in a sweeping tide of atmospheric melodies and effects. Melodic themes and repeated phrases are used to envelop the listener in its colourful grip. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Sebastian Witkowski. The sound quality throughout the release is excellent.
Rhythmic patterns plot a structured path and provide an evolving framework, allowing several of the tunes to unravel methodically or gradually change course. Much of the cinematic ambience that the group creates, channels the sound of post-rock. However, other influences are equally important and the prominent use of electronica at various points infuses the band's music with a flavouring of nu-jazz.
Keyboard player Załęski and guest Witkowski on electronics provide many of the effects that makes Unsubscribe such a captivating and atmospheric experience. There are many wonderful keyboard interludes. My favourite occurs during Ciala which contains a lengthy, distorted keyboard solo which is suggestive of something that Dave Stewart and National Health might have penned.
In the early parts of the album, guitar is primarily used as a background instrument to create a soundscape from which the prominent saxophone (sometimes accompanied by a piano) deliver the melodies. In the second half of the album, the music is generally more upbeat. Consequently, guitarist Błaszczak is much more prominent, although his effect-laden work towards the conclusion of Przeniesienie adds a great point of contrast to the gentle meanderings that come before it.
The excellent Epilog contains many ingredients that will make prog fans pin-back their ears and listen with intent. The band's video of this track is featured in the credits section of this review. Epilog begins with a synthesiser riff that could have come straight out of Solaris' song book. It is soon accompanied by a frenzied sax riff that is redolent of the style of Belgium punk-jazz band Don Kapot. A change of pace brings the guitar to the fore and the gentle lolling of the sunrise/sunset beach tones of Błaszczak, emotively call out to any Pink Floyd fans who might be listening. The squall of the feedback mayhem that follows is equally impressive. It's a fine tune.
However, probably the most notable tune and certainly the most progressive on the album is Chmury. Its strident nature and malevolent, stubbled underbody, marks a change of direction. It is far more menacing than anything that had gone before.
It features a thrilling bass solo that uses a whammy pedal to shift the pitch of the instrument to higher octaves. It is one of the highlights of the album and is one of several occasions when a member of the ensemble is given a full opportunity to fully express themselves and go off-piste from the tightly-spun nature of the music. The excitement it generates is palpable.
This frenzied interlude makes the transition from chaos to tranquillity, when it occurs, extremely palatable. A delightfully fresh piano sequence changes the mood and takes over in majestic fashion.
Over the course of Chmury's eight-plus minutes, much that is positive about Niechęć's music is exhibited to good effect. It's an impressive tune and is one that I have listened to on many occasions.
Niechęć is also a piece that incorporates a range of influences and moods that encapsulate much of what this band is about. Misty images of the twisted peaks of the Tatra mountains and the wholesome flavours and appealing effect of a camp-fired plate of mushroom pierogi are reclaimed from the recesses of my memories from a visit to Poland. It contains a dream-like floating section that recalls the work of Fripp and Eno. Later the piece fades to the ever-darkening distance in a series of electronic and interplanetary plops and pulses.
Everything about Unsubscribe works extremely well. The band deliver their unique and progressive style of jazz-fusion with great aplomb. Niechęć's liberal use and blending of styles that are frequently associated with other genres of music, ensures that their art has the potential to reach a wider audience.
Unsubscribe certainly has many qualities, and its cinematic characteristics can cast a beguiling spell. Its unusual combination of ugly-beauty and restless-tranquillity undoubtedly shapes the imagination. The album's gentle ambience, rhythmic undercurrents, wonderful saxophone yowls, enchanting piano flurries and melodic themes coalesce in a satisfying mixture of flavoursome sounds.
I certainly enjoyed every aspect of Unsubscribe and cannot wait to turn down the lights and sip its heady intoxicating brew again.