Electronic, Experimental, Jazz, Global
Instant Classic, Border Community, The state51 Conspiracy
Wacław Zimpel has risen to prominence as one of Poland’s most adventurous multi-instrumentalists, composers & producers following a love affair with jazz yet equally inspired by electronics, minimalism & global roots – a prolific collaborator, Zimpel blurs extreme boundaries as far as to eradicate them altogether in tirelessly seeking new musical languages.
Born and raised in Poznań, his earliest musical memories are of his father playing the piano, taking up the violin at the age of six and classical clarinet training. Riffing on his beloved rare alto clarinet, casting aside the frustrations of formal music lessons for a salvation in jazz & the burning desire to improvise led to a world-class mastery of other woodwinds including khaen (proto-harmonica; Laos). Expert manipulation of urban-ritual electronics and loops anchored to a human perspective and folk-trance tradition, Zimpel prioritises of depth & understanding whichever his chosen context.
Most recent solo highlight has to be 2020’s ‘Massive Oscillations’, the result of a nine-day residency at the Willem Twee studio in Den Bosch, mixed with the help of collaborator James Holden, and released via Amsterdam’s Ongehoord records. In keeping with his restless improvisational spirit, Zimpel jettisoned previous ideas and set
about using the studio’s array of oscillators, generators, sequencers, tape recorders and filters (alongside his beloved clarinet) to capitalize on opportunities the facility offered him. Having tuned the oscillators by ear for ‘Sine Tapes’ and title track ‘Massive Oscillations‘, whilst attempting to work out melodies on his clarinet,
Zimpel found he’d inadvertently arrived at a lower frequency than intended. By a happy accident, he realized he’d subconsciously been tuning in to the bells of St Jan’s Cathedral, which is located close to the studio. “It was this kind of magical coincidence that really helped shape the recording“, he recalls.
Released the same year as ‘Massive Oscillations’ ‘Ebbing in the tide’ was recorded in one take in Margate UK, exploring advanced processing techniques - developed specially for him by Holden - transforming a single clarinet line into an other-worldly choir of Krautrock and woodwinds. 2016’s critically acclaimed ‘Lines’ described by The Quietus as “a spectacular statement”, and additional collaborations venture deeper into contemporary electronic performance including a project headed up with Holden and one with Shackleton.
Arguably the jumping off point for Zimpel’s current musical tide was Instant Classic‘s ‘Zimpel/Ziołek‘, a work which for several years enjoyed international showcasing and wide adoration of both these players’ new direction. An AV work is in development, likely surfacing in 2021; as well as scheduled releases on 7K! and Ondinata.
Zimpel’s back catalogue has made an indelible mark with dozens of albums as band leader. His ongoing Saagara project has seen him successfully bring together the disparate disciplines of western jazz and Carnatic ragas across an eponymous debut and its follow-up, ‘2' with a third album thankfully in the works.
Add to this his collaborations with contemporary/free jazz players Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake, Joe PcPhee, Alex Roth & Hubert Zemler, famed composer & Grammy award winner Evan Ziporyn, electronic music producers Forest Swords (by arrangement w/BBC Radio 3) and Rabih Beaini, drum legend Trilok Gurtu and the master of gnawa music Maallem Mokhtar Gania and a growing resume of theatre, film and choreography works.
“Premier representative of the Polish jazz scene” - Culture.pl
“A musical chameleon” - New York Times
“Plenty of jazz artists borrow traditional sounds from around the world, but few mine beauty and poignancy like Zimpel” - Chicago Reader
“Essential transmission from modern Poland” - The Quietus
“The performance went from gorgeous to jaw-dropping” - exclaim!