Let me introduce you to my new favorite spoken-word artist, Lukasz Polowczyk, who, alongside composer Jan Wagner, released on cassette and paper the beautiful album, 'Aint About Me'.
Spoken-word is closer to a movement than a genre. Started on the street corners with street rhymes and wisdom from legends such as The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron, and followed by artists like Nas, Black Thought, and one of Lukasz's influence, Kendrick Lamar.
History has some of the strangest twists when it comes to spoken word poetry. For example, France’s number one instigator, banned by the Vatican, Serge Gainsbourg, is one of the forefathers of mainstream spoken word music. Initially a crooner, he damaged his voice so much that he became the official ambassador of rhymes on experimental sounds and instrumentals, ranging from jazz to reggae and dub, psychedelic, and French Coldwave. Another anomaly was Manc punk poet John Cooper Clarke, who not only put Manchester on the poetry map but also toured with Joy Division and Sex Pistols, and released albums with Columbia Records, resulting in big-money deals.
'Ain't About Me' is one pure uncut spoken-word masterpiece, a 360 degrees cultural project that benefits from a physical release on cassette and on a book with typography and illustrations by 15 year old Rrrumburak and design by her father Animisiewasz Startt.
On this record, the spoken words have liquid tactile properties. They speak to the listener as he needs his imagination triggered and freed. It is not about a product that is wrapped in beautiful paper but about bones, blood, sweat, and tears. Lukasz’s work with Jan and their jazz crew cuts sharp like a knife. And his poetic themes sometimes stain and cauterize with acid lyrical content. Sometimes they are at the edge of reality and science fiction, and the influx of information is overwhelming, but the depth never disappoints, and the resolution is always at hand.
Watching Kali Sashay With My Arm In Her Jaw Locked is a proper intro, almost like a mantra in the lyrical department, with synths and saxophone intertwined as the backbone, working gloriously together. The Self As A Matrix Of Desires brings in Jan’s arpeggios and lifts up the spirit in the machine, with Lukasz possessed-like state spitting lyrics about life in the clouds.
The Day I Powdered And Snorted My Black Bones, which just got played on the BBC 3 Late Junction, is the reflection of the album’s visual concept. It speaks upfront and graphically about themes of death, depression, love, and identity. So is love a black hole? Watch My Hands As I Pocket The Blues You See Nothing features subtle reed instruments playing tingling melodies as the poetry goes deep into the temple of family love and warmth.
Blowing Out All The Stained Glass Windows In All The Temples Simultaneously name tags Jackson Pollock, like a graffiti painting, but a surreal one reincarnating him as a dancer. Big punchline! When I Die Play My Bones Like A Balafon Arpeggio has a sweet sound of synths and saxophone arrangement by Jan, creating a sensual atmosphere complementary to the decaying love song whispered by Lukasz.
Writing Words Is Like Throwing Stones At The Sun is the mission of all spoken word artists out there, painting with lyrics and desecrating with rhymes. Music mixes with politics, and the song Police Precincts Up In Flames Like Sage proves it 100%. Such a sonic hybrid launching the metaphor of police brutality smashing ordinary folk spoken over a soundtrack that literally moves you on the rhythm of a menacing train or boat trip. This song has a tense claustrophobic sound palette underlining the message. The Sister Friend Of A Black Hole is a collage of images layered upon the closest horror film soundtrack melodies on this record.
Happiness Is A Long Equation is the philosophy lesson on the album, and the qualities of the music go into new age territory. Watching Tarot Card XVI Come To Life where Lukasz’s lyrics on the 911 event juxtapose with Jan’s soundtrack of deep synth stabs mixed with violin and long reverbs. Let’s Kiss And Forget is love ending the game on the sensitive chord. But the book features the bonus poem Micro Dose that closes the narrative flow on a much more positive vibe, birthing hope through serendipity.
I am sure the next release of Lukas will benefit the attention he surely deserves.