Krakow music wish-list
July 31, 2011 3:25 PM   Subscribe

What musical gems & rarities should I look for on my upcoming trip to Krakow?

My spouse and I will be traveling to Krakow in about a month. (See my previous question re: this trip if you like-- the suggestions for side-trips into Eastern Europe sounded so good that we decided to bag Scandinavia entirely!)

One of my favorite things to do when I travel internationally is to hit the music stores and bring home local stuff that would be difficult or impossible to find at home. Unfortunately, I'm not going to have too much time to research the music of Poland, Croatia, and environs before I go, so without y'all's help, I won't have as broad & deep a wish-list as I'd normally like. Please help me help the sage record store clerks of Krakow to send me home with a massive pile of awesomeness!

Below is a more detailed description of my musical tastes, for anyone who wants to give tailored recommendations. It's pretty long, so only read it if you really want to. Categories of music are marked out in bold to spare metal-heads from having to read my thoughts on jazz, and vice versa. The bottom line is that I'm open to pretty much anything, so if you really like something, let me know! I'll be thrilled to seek it out and give it a listen!

Here are some details about what I love to listen to:

Unusual instruments and unusual uses of more common instruments: Waterphones! Theremins! Glass Harmonicas! Didgeridoos! Melotrons! Gamelans being used in non-Indonesian settings, and bagpipes of all kinds! I freaking live for these things! (Especially waterphones. Word to heaven, I would listen to Rebecca Black day and night if she used a waterphone.) Additionally, I avidly collect examples of music in which bagpipes (and bagpipes-like instruments) are used in contexts outside Scottish traditional music, and I will enthusiasically buy this stuff even if it's something that I know in my heart I will hate. I'm also really into glass instruments, and while my collecting mania w/re this isn't yet on par with my bagpipe obsession, it's definitely headed that way. I also have an inordinate fondness for tubas.

Jazz, (especially swing and bebop) pretty much makes my world go 'round. Django Reinhardt, Alice Coltrane, and Charlie Parker are my absolute faves, with Sun Ra and Duke Ellington following. (I like Ornette Coleman's work too, though I'm not always in the right mood for it.) My most-beloved contemporary act is probably Belgium's Flat Earth Society. I dig a lot of Downtown-scene John Zorn-type stuff too, though Zorn's noisiest stuff generally leaves me cold. (I'm still trying, however!). I'm familiar with several European, African, and Middle Eastern outfits that fuse jazz and traditional music, and I can't say I've heard an example of that I didn't like. This, of course, means that I like Klezmer, but I'm much more familiar with Klezmatics-type stuff than I am with that produced in Europe.

Prog/Zeuhl/Avant-rock is very, very dear to my heart. If you can direct me to Poland's answer to Magma or La Locanda delle Fate, I will owe you beer for the rest of your life. I am not even kind of kidding.

Early and classical: Medieval music is pretty much always a win for me, especially choral stuff. I'm really dumb when it comes to classical music from before the 19th century, however, and I'm only slightly less dumb about the 19th and 20th centuries. As far as the major Polish composers go, I don't know much about Pendrecki, I've never really connected with Chopin (though I don't dislike him), and while I love every Gorecki piece I've ever heard, I haven't heard all that many. If there are specific recordings of Gorecki, Pendrecki, or Chopin that I should seek out, I'd love to hear about them (as well as anything else I might find interesting!)

New Music: I'm into a lot of 20th and 21st century avant-garde stuff, especially minimalism and deep listening. (I'm not terribly sophisticated about this stuff, however. Indeed, I'm not even really sure you'd call minimalism avant-garde these days.) Being unsophisticated in this context means I'm willing to try more-or-less anything, however. Favorites in this realm include Stuart Dempster, Iannis Xenakis (though not so much with the electronic work), Steve Reich (who will be playing while we're in town, OMG), Gavin Byars, Dmitri Balanescu, Jon Hassell, and Meredith Monk.

Electronica's great when it's basically atmospheric, or melodic, playful and eclectic, but I can't really handle it when it's abrasive, when it has exremely high BPM, or when it's both driving and amelodic. (The magic of Venetian Snares is lost on me, for instance, and I'm not big on most Squarepusher. Kid Koala's either blindingly awesome or utterly inaccessible, depending on the track.) Favorites for me include Colleen, Bonobo, Burial, Fever Ray, Tipsy, Biosphere, Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, and Supersilent. Electronica that incorporates elements of regional musical traditions or movements is usually a win, though abrasiveness can sometimes kill it for me. (i.e, I find Buraka Som Sistema compelling, but I can't really listen to more than a couple of tracks at a time. D.J. Food, Gotan Project, and Mercan Dede are more to my liking.)

Hip-hop: It's sort of hard to appreciate hip-hop when you can't speak the language-- but if you think your favorite Polish hip-hop act has something that going on that I could perceive despite my all-but-total ignorance of the language, I'm up for checking it out. (Even though I can't speak Turkish, I'm mad fond of the now-defunct Cartel, which was a Turkish gangsta/political outfit that incorporated occasional Middle Eastern gracenotes into otherwise gritty, angry tracks.) When I can understand the lyrics, I tend to like my hip-hop to be either full of Sturm und Drang (a la Clipse) or "Backpacker-y" (think Busdriver, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, or Anti-Pop Consortium.)

Rock/metal/punk/etc.: Favorite strains here are post-rock and psychedelia, though I do adore a good, bouncy punk track. I'm extremely keen on fusions of rock or punk with different kinds of traditional music (i.e., The Pogues, Corvus Corax, Kultur Shock, etc.), and I'd be thrilled to find new examples of that on my trip. Also, like most of Metafilter, I'm in slobbering, desperate love with Tom Waits and love anything he's ever touched, or thought about touching. My spouse (who will also be music shopping, though not so frenetically) is quite into metal, and for him, heavier is better. (Think Big Business and Motorhead.) I like me some metal too, especially when it's big and complex or eclectic. (Iron Maiden is best-of-breed for me, followed by Dir En Grey.) I do find extreme cookie monster vocals off-putting most of the time, though Mr. Palmcorder likes them just fine.

Traditional: Beyond Klezmer, I have no clue at all what the traditional music of Poland sounds like. I am keen on finding out, however, so recommend away!

Thanks in advance for all your help, folks!
posted by palmcorder_yajna to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't know about Krakow, but a friend of mine is from Moscow and describes their outdoor marketplaces as a record collector heaven, tons of strange bands and interesting bootlegs. I would poke around the swap meets, etc., outside the tourist parts of town. Plus, you'll get a fun walk in. Great question by the way.
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:45 PM on July 31, 2011

Unusual instruments?
posted by timsteil at 5:29 PM on July 31, 2011

Best answer: Krakow actually has a thriving progressive jazz scene, most of it centered
around the club Alchemia.
posted by Zebtron at 7:48 PM on July 31, 2011

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