Polish fantasy-fliers find solid rapport in the field of ultimate unpredictability.
More than adept in entangling themselves in various ensembles, clarinet player Szymon Klima and pianist Dominik Wania have never recorded together, though, and the duo’s debut may seem to have some import about its title, but in fact “Fantastico” feels like a reflection of the two musicians’ awe at what they came up with. Indeed, even the least jazz-minded listener will have to share the performers’ wonderment, as this set of improvs – minimal as such a setup should be – never ceases to enthrall, from the album’s first to last low-tone note that’s bound to send shivers down one’s very soul. While, all original, the cuts on offer are firmly rooted in the genre’s history, there’s a fiercely independent flow to it all.
Wania and Klima don’t hesitate to call their numbers “Traditional” and “Don’t Hesitate” because these bring forth the juke joints air, yet it’s screeching opener “Miner Forty-Niner” that doesn’t hark back to “Oh My Darling, Clementine” and, instead, solemnly signals the longplay’s folk-informed agenda. Here, woodwind and ivories weave an anxious throb – initially abstract and gradually taking tuneful, if dynamically uneven, shape, before “Forklod” unfolds a delicate bucolic balladry of exotic stripe where keys invoke dewdrops and reeds a spring rain. No surprise, then, when the frisky “Insect” draws on a Rimsky-Korsakov template, and the sophisticated, though equally jolly, “Forsotul” leads the buzz further, directs the melody towards elegy and surges up to a dance.
The instruments deliberately, drunkenly stumble on “Are You For Real (Pig Milk)” – the liveliest piece on display – only to support each other in the end and swing with some swagger. Still, the depths they fathom as a single unit in the slo-mo of “Litania” is profound and genuinely moving, as is the chamber swirl of the record’s title track – as opposed to the finale of “Nothing”: a dirge which turns out optimistic, a hymn of sorts. A fitting end to a trip that must only begin on this record.