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Waclaw Zimpel
Massive Oscillations Julian Marszalek , February 7th, 2020 09:56

The second solo album from Forest Swords and James Holden collaborator Waclaw Zimpel is a bold and powerful piece of work, finds Julian Marszalek

Having collaborated with artists as diverse as Alameda Organisation’s Kuba Ziołek (Zimpel/Ziołek), producer Forest Swords and poet Belinda Zhawi, electronic artist James Holden, slo-mo psych rockers ARRM, as well as his own Polish-Indian project Saagara – and that’s before considering his forthcoming release with Sam Shackleton – it can become a little too easy to forget that Polish composer and musician Wacław Zimpel is very much an artist in his own right. Indeed, the four years since the release of his last solo album, Lines, has seen Wacław Zimpel add his touches and flourishes to any number of musical collaborations, but it’s now, with Massive Oscillations, that he truly steps into the limelight.

His second solo album, Massive Oscillations is an undisputed career highlight that finds Zimpel scaling new heights. While his debut picked up the baton from minimalist influences and composers such as Terry Riley and La Monte Young, here he goes for full maximalism and the results are staggering.

This isn’t a shy album and he’s certainly not backwards about coming forwards. The opening drones of the title track usher in a collection of muscular electronic music that isn’t so much listened to as experienced. An immersive journey into sound, beats, pulses and freakouts, ‘Massive Oscillations’ more than lives up to its name. A distant descendant of Jimmy Page’s Lucifer Rising and the keyboard work of John Paul Jones on Led Zeppelin’s ‘In The Light’, its hypnotic charms seduce and beguile in equal measure.

As displayed by the sixteen-minute epic, ‘Random Odds’, Zimpel’s real skill is incrementally ramping the music up in such a measured and subtle manner that it’s difficult to pinpoint the moment that true mental elevation occurs. Those opening beats are understated, yet they gently increase in intensity as they merge with seemingly random keyboard patterns. Of course, they’re anything but, for this is ordered chaos that leaves nothing to chance.

James Holden’s sympathetic and skillful mixing is another factor at play here. There are moments when lamenting the seeming absence of Zimpel’s clarinet are replaced by the realisation that it’s actually in the mix, adding urgency and power in a way that blends rather than overwhelms.

The creation of an ever restless and fecund talent, Massive Oscillations is a beautifully bold and powerful album that should bring Wacław Zimpel to the attention of a wider and deserved audience.