118CD - Mzylkypop - Kiedy Wilki Zawyja? - CD plus download

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Description

Please note that this release is available as CD / DL / or LP.  The LP edition is pressed on red vinyl and limited to 100 copies only.

 

Myzlkypop gives us with “a work of fiction pre Pandemic, pre Referendum” where avant-pop from Zappa to Ze Records shines through this meticulously crafted song cycle, played on vintage instruments and uniquely voiced by Sylwia in an entirely European voice that is cliché free and commands the song.

 

The sentiments expressed are still prescient and dear to my heart. Many catalysts not least spending decades as a gun for hire writer/ musician since the heady days in Detroit working with Was ( Not Was) until I could resist no longer and decided to do my music my way with zero compromise or commercial consideration. Meeting Sylwia Anna Drwal by chance at the Audacious Art Experiment gave me the voice. An entirely European voice that is cliche free and commands the song. Kiedy Wilki Zawyja? When Will The Wolves Howl? - Mick Somerset June 2021

"This feels like you’ve pushed past bric-a-brac and moth eaten furniture at some market in an obscure French village to shuffle through old trash 70s vinyl to discover a lost, unheard, psychedelic masterpiece. One with all the mystery of a forgotten time and place but one strangely undiscovered, a lost continent of … well I’m not sure what, but it’s beautifully weird and wonderful.  I’m writing this on Halloween, how perfect. An album that reeks of real Gothic, damp dark and macabre, not faux Primark Goth fancy dress and pumpkins but genuinely unsettling. It could sit alongside any Giallo – Italian noir horror – without discomfort. I could run this behind The Wickerman and get a proper sense of what was going on - raw buzzing, not folktronica but something much more unsettling with added hormones and creepiness. Like Jodorowksy’s Holy Mountain relocated to a dark and nocturnal Eastern Europe.  But this is a record with spit and polish, beautifully composed and produced: clearly crafted with love and attention, but built on shifting sands. It travels from brittle funk, somewhere between the body movement of the Contortions and peak madness Ornette Coleman, to wash up gently on Nico’s Desert Shore. Enmeshed in there is mutant soul, David Axelrod on a sabbatical and oddly Gregorian incantations. A voice from another dimension glimpsed through dark veils, I feel I should be burning some esoteric oils and throwing flickering projections onto walls.  Past worlds aside this is a future we could be turning our backs on… I wish everyone could have played this record before the referendum, we wouldn’t be pulling up the shutters."  - Stephen Mallinder 

 

Michael Somerset Ward - keyboards, electronics, percussion,
electric and acoustic woodwinds

Sylwia Anna Drwal - vocals and narratives

with

Simon Lewinski - guitar, keyboards,
Philippe Clegg - bass guitar, Jarrod Gosling - drums, mellotron,
Peter Fairclough - drums, Charlie Collins – percussion,
Matthew Bourne - piano, Maartin Ornstein – tarogato,
Peter Rophone - bass guitar, Beatrix Ward-Fernandez - castanets,
Cath James - viola, Wolfgang Seel - vocals,
Milan and Maja - voices

Reviews

If an album can be encapsulated in a lapel badge, the debut by Mzylkypop (pronounced mizz-ilkee-pop) would be a play on the Anti-Nazi League badges of old. As the archives now testify, the ANL once offered an impressive range of niche representation in its protest badges: “Airport Workers Against The Nazis”, “Vegetarians Against The Nazis”. The badge for Kiedy Wilki Zawyja? might propose “Frank Zappa Fans Against The Nazis”.

 

The Zappa affinity is made explicit in the choice of the album’s sole cover version “TV Lives” – originally recorded in 1969 by Zappa-associated girl group The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously). Mzylkypop’s anti-Nazi stance, meanwhile, is made explicit in the statement by the group’s driving force, Michael Somerset Ward. In 2018, when the album was first released as a limited edition lathe cut on Sheffield’s Do It Thissen Records, Ward explained that he began writing the album in 2015, “when pre-referendum UKIP were at their strongest and the EDL had just marched in the area Sylwia had made home”. He refers to singer Sylwia Drwal, who channels Ward’s songs through her dark, pristine croon, the kind of voice best suited for black pillbox hats with built-in veils.

 

Ward is a longstanding songwriter, saxophonist and veteran of the Sheffield music scene, with credits that include Clock DVA and Richard ‘Parrot’ Barratt’s electronic project Crooked Man. Half of the songs here have lyrics in Drwal’s native Polish, a clear political point. In the opening track “Witch Drones/The State” Drwal explains that the album is based around a dystopian vision of Britain circa 2030 in which a coalition of far right parties has taken power and have begun a programme of repatriation. Then the music suddenly stops, Drwal barks out the all-purpose Polish swear word “KURWA!”, there’s a manic tumbling of pianos and pounding fuzz bass, and we’re off.

 

This giddy avant pop affair is rather more avant than pop, with a large backing band of musicians steeped in the stylings of early 1970s psychedelia, mutant prog, free jazz saxophone solos, slinky blues (particularly on “Red White And Blue”) and moody spy soundtracks in the vein of John Barry’s score for 1965’s The Ipcress File. “Last Exit To Lublin” has a spoken word interlude in which the Cold War language of such films is remapped for the era of Brexit: “Papers, please/How long have you been in the country?/And how long do you intend to stay?/Come with us”. The kitschiness of Barry’s music is stripped away to reveal its original purpose: the sound of a very English paranoia.

 

Manic full-band numbers like a “A Narky Monkey”, with its use of Northern English slang and an extremely prescient moment where someone has a fit of coughing, are balanced with two sublime ballads in a traditional folk style, “Slumber Pin” and “Elphame”. The latter features a medievalesque harmony of woodwind recorders, recalling the similar anti-Brexit use of the instrument on Gazelle Twin’s 2018 album Pastoral. Here, however, the combination of such Merrie England sounds with Drwal’s Polish accent makes an especially powerful point.

 

The album title translates as When Will The Wolves Howl?, and given its dedication to the environmentally focused UK journalist George Monbiot, this would appear to be a nod to Monbiot’s call for rewilding, where freedom of movement is a principle for animals as much as humans. Indeed, this theme attains a post-human touch at the culmination of the record, where “TV Lives” is punctuated with a radio phone-in show. The interviewee, Sylwia herself, recounts a benign UFO encounter, before shifting back into singer mode and cooing The GTOs’ song about yearning to be a TV set: “When I’m sad my horizontal dips/And my vertical skips”. Such obsolete terms now evoke ideas of escaping not just the body but time. The best way forward is always the crossing of borders – whether borders of genre, time, the body, language, nations, or worlds. - Dickon Edwards. THE WIRE

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There are other words that precede it but, as is right and just, the first proper word on Mzylkypop‘s Kiedy Wilki Zawyja? is “Kurwa”. Which you’ll recognise as being the most popular swear among Polish people. The record details a fictional dystopia in the 2030s, but there’s a clear tension around the now of the UK — lyrics interchangeably in Polish and English, narratives about immigration and dispossession. For the most part, my Polish isn’t strong enough to discern the Polish parts beyond the odd noun like boga and ubrania — but my partner, who’s from Gdańsk, popped her head into the room to say that it sounds well Polish. I’m not sure what that means, but I think it’s possibly because there’s a strong narrative to the music — it’s still jazz, in a sense, but it’s also jazz-informed arrangements. Like bleary fairground music or some ersatz lounge, distended in service of something most gothular. Possibly most surprising, and pleasing, is Kiedy Wilki Zawyja? this is a cohesive, well-formed and well-arranged set of songs that are all over the place — there’s patches of rackets, free jazz-y sections, stuff that sounds distinctly like folk plainsong (replete with recorders and all). And yet the record is over and done with in about half an hour — which is to say, not an ounce of fat or bloated over-egging. Seemingly the record is the composition of Michael Somerset Ward, who I’m sure older readers will remember from Clock DVA, but there’s a lot about this record that feels pulled together by Sylwia Anna Drwal‘s vocals — hers is a new name on me, so I’m hoping to hear more soon. For my money Kiedy Wilki Zawyja? is a record that leans into the post-Brexit shiterland that is the UK, and does so with quiet observation and humour, rather than anything too garishly signified. Top marks, Mzylkypop, bardzo dzięki. - Kev Nickells, FREQ

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Weil mehr Ohren Sylwia Anna Drwal singen und flüstern hören sollen, wie sie bei 'Witch Drones / The State' scheinbar in einen Giallo lockt - ah, Mallinder hat die gleiche Assoziation - , bevor verblüffender Freakrock Tritt fasst, mit fluchendem "Kurwa!" und kirrendem Sax. 'She Turns to Dust' singt sie polnisch, die folkrockig stampfende Musik biegt hinter Dukla Richtung Karpaten, 'Slumber Pin' stimmt sie als irische Ballade an, zu althergebrachten Flöten und Trommelschlägen mit zeitloser Rührung. 'Sylwia's List' setzt sich bläserforsch in Marsch, doch mehr tanzlustig und prahlerisch als kriegerisch. 'The Gods of Claws' röhrt mit Baritonsax zu tremolierender Orgel wie Steroid Maximus, und Sylwia wiegt die Hüften als Venus im Pelz. 'Last Exit to Lublin' gerät auf der Hubert-SelbyJr.-Spur mit seinen klopfenden 4/4 mehrmals ins Schleudern, weil Sylwia koboldig am Ohr zupft, der da EWI quäkt, dem wird der Kragen eng. 'Elphame' führt mit Maultrommel, Tamburin, Flöte und Nico-Feeling ins schottische Elfenreich zum Maientanz im Morgentau. Über was Sylwia zu helldunklen Keys und wieder quäkendem EWI bei 'Red White and Blue' phantasiert, de Nederlandse vlag ist es nicht. Ihr Lalala, der Groove und die 60s-Orgel bei 'Narky Monkey' ziehen alle Register unverdrossener Widerspenstigkeit, und wie zuletzt 'TV Lives' noiseverzerrt und keyboardselig die GTOs und den Spirit of '69 evoziert und Sylwia den Sputnik, den sie als Kind gesehen hat, das lässt die Zukunft alt aussehen.  - BAD ALCHEMY

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An atypical record for Discus Music. An album of ‘pop’ by Mzylkypop, a Sheffield-based duo of Michael Somerset Ward (keyboards, electronics, percussion, electric and acoustic woodwinds) and Sylwia Anna Drwal (vocals and narratives). From what I could deduce, this collaboration is already a few years in existence. This album is, in fact, a rerelease of a very limited vinyl edition that first appeared in 2018. Ward was once a member of Clock DVA and worked with Floy Joy, Was (Not Was), etc. Drwal was a member of the Sheffield band Mother of Crows. She is Polish of origin and sings in Polish and English. They present a series of 10 songs, all made up of a well-defined sound concept. Overall the music has a psychedelic atmosphere and a bit of weird character. The vocal performance by Drwal, who sings mainly in Polish, is impressive. In a folk song like ‘Slumber Pin’, she sings in English. ‘A Narky Monkey’ strongly reminded me of film music from the 70s. Most material is written by Ward, except the closing title ‘TV Lives’ written by Don Preston for GTO’s first and only album from 1969. Exemplifying that the 70s are the primary source of inspiration. Not only Zappa but also Suicide and Chrisma came to my mind. Many influences are absorbed here, resulting in a robust set of dark and bizarre songs using old vintage instruments of the 60s and 70s. The song format is dominant with experimental and free intros and interludes in many of the tracks. A very consistent album of imaginative music.  - Dolf Mulder, VITAL WEEKLY http://www.vitalweekly.net/1303.html

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Wild, wacky, wonderful, and so, so, out there. The utterly uncategorizable and strangely coiffed Mzylkypop isn’t just one of the more idiosyncratic releases in the Discus catalog, it’s one of the most richly rewarding pieces of warpmusic you’re likely to hear this year. Ostensibly a duo, the pair of Michael Somerset Ward (ex-Clock DVA and Was (Not Was)) and Sylwia Anna Drwal have drafted some additional heavy hitters to help in actualizing the maximum density of sound and vision that oozes out of every millimeter of this recording. Pianist Matthew Bourne, drummer and mellotronist Jarrod Gosling, percussionist Charlie Collins, and a gaggle of others provide key contributions to the album’s ever-kinetic momentum. From the opening breathless minutes, when Drwal ushers us in with the sinister whisper “This story was born in my imagination…”, you’re sent plunging into the heart of the rabbit hole that is “Witch Drones/The State”, a rough-and-tumble tussle of careening electronics and amassed percussion moaning like the whimper of whipped dogs. From there things get, well, twisted in the extreme. Ward’s deft electronics, achieving the kind of symphonic lift-off unseen in his ‘dayjob’ as part of synth-dance outfit Crooked Man, smack up against his own corral of electric and acoustic woodwinds, breezeways of tornadic ferocity embodied in Drwal as she vents her inner Dagmar Krause with demented glee. In rapid succession, the collective traipse through a forest perilous of mutant, Transylvanian prog, faux Gentle Giant-isms, chamber music as envisioned by the likes of Steven Stapleton’s Nurse With Wound, et al, a veritable storming of the studio by any and all devilish means imaginable. Echoes of music occupying the outer limits of the rock spectrum—the likes of Art Bears or Tuxedomoon spring to mind—flit conspicuously throughout, but Ward and Drwal are too inventive to summon any of those ancestral spirits wholeheartedly; they act more like particle accelerators buttressing the firmament, a fulcrum upon which this dynamic duo pivot. In the end, descriptors become meaningless, influences get lost in the mayhem, and you’re left to your own devices, exhausted, exhilarated, and punchdrunk from this lot’s sonic brandywine. - Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery

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The DISCUS MUSIC releases usually were very experimental instrumental complex jazz orientated, but the re-release of the 2018 album Mzylkypop of KIEDY WILKI ZWYIA? is something entirely different. It’s not as Polish as you might expect with such a bandname, because the duo consists of the British musician Michael Somerset Ward on keyboards, electronics, percussion, electric and acoustic woodwinds, and Sylwia Anna Drwal on vocals and narratives. Michael started his music career in the band CLOCK DVA, while in later years he signed up for a solo career to VIRGIN RECORDS, worked with DON WAS for WAS NOT WAS and one of his songs was covered by ALISON MOYET (Weak In The Presence Of Beauty, which ended up being a massive hit). Although he did a lot afterwards, he now fully returns to the music business with this rather interesting release he did with Sylwia. Besides these 2, the other featured musicians are Simon Lewinski - guitar, keyboards, Philippe Clegg - bass guitar, Jarrod Gosling - drums, mellotron, Peter Fairclough – drums, Charlie Collins – percussion, Matthew Bourne – piano, Maartin Ornstein – tarogato, Peter Rophone - bass guitar, Beatrix Ward-Fernandez – castanets, Cath James – viola, Wolfgang Seel – vocals and Milan and Maja – voices. Musically speaking there is a lot to discover here, but I do think the progrock and ZAPPA fan will mostly be interested in checking out this album. A song like Slumber Pin is celtic influenced, and is a beautiful calmer CLANNADish piece, while for example the superb Sylwia’s List draws influences from 70s psychedelic rock. There’s however some really cool progressive rock to be heard a lot of times, such as during Last Train To Lublin and Red, White and Blue, while ZAPPA freakiness and 90s alternative rock meets a bit of jazz (and did I hear a sorta JAMES BOND melody during A Narky Monkey) is also part of the game sometimes. It’s a melting pot of a lot of things, but thankfully it’s always sounding melodic and refreshing enough to keep up the interest from start to finish. Without a doubt this is an album you need to listen to a couple of times before making up a good judgement. It is definitely one of the finest releases on the DISCUS MUSIC label so far. - STRUTTER'ZINE

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Mzylkypop is a concept album that is relevant to the current political situation much like a fire blanket to a book burning. According to the description, Mzylkypop was conceived three years ago as a dystopian vision of the United Kingdom in the year  2030. This was well before the idea of Brexit or the huge successes of extreme right wing parties in several European countries. Mzylkypop is a play on the name Mr. Mxyztplk, a mischievous character of the old DC Superman comics. The mastermind behind Mzylkypop is Michael Somerset Ward who has notable achievements on the Sheffield punk/avant garde/art scene, associated with such projects as Clock DVA, Floy Joy, Was (Not Was) and Crooked Man. On this album Michael collaborates with singer Sylwia Anna Drwal. Some of the songs are sung in Polish, some English, some with mixed passages. The title “When Will the Wolves Howl” was influenced by the writings of environmentalist George Monbiot, especially Rewilding. So much for the factual. I was not aware of all these details when I first heard the music, so my initial impression was that this is a masterpiece out of nowhere. The album sets the scene with Witch Drones as a vision of the future in which a coalition of far right parties are elected to the government. The ugly word repatriation falls. The music turns disturbing, a squeal of saxophone and driving beat give the feeling of being on the run, of having to escape. The vision has definitely become a nightmare. After that the album moves from one incredible moment to the next. Slumber Pin is a post-modern folk song using traditional Scottish motifs. Sylwia’s List (sung in Polish) is quite lively and conveys a sense of defiance. The God of Claws feels like a new kind of blues combined with the horror of being a refugee. Last Exit to Lublin, a close rhyme to Last Exit to Brooklyn, has a dissonant feeling to it, well matched to the dystopian concept, and also a surreal sounding conversation between immigrant and border agent, English and Polish whispers, the nervousness of an uncertain situation. The piece Red White and Blue confronts the spectre of nationalism and the crimes it leads to: “My children said to me….when are they going to send us all away?” Narky Monkey is the creme of the masterpiece which ties together all the motifs of the album into a rallying statement of defiance: “All life is sacred. We will resist.” The vision is meant as a warning for us to be vigilant. Unfortunately, the time to act is not in the far future, nor the near future, but now. The album was slightly too prescient. - https://www.ragazine.cc/the-pulse-of-time-music

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