Yaybahars and Cristal Bachets

MB KrakowKraków is so fortunate to have such wonderful performance venues, particularly the relatively recent addition of the ICE centre. While last night’s gig was in the smaller theatre, tonight’s ‘Drone Sounds’ concert was in the much larger auditorium next door; a magnificent space with a huge stage. It was more than adequately filled by the large orchestra, which had an enlarged percussion section, plus an array of fascinating synthesisers and other unusual instruments that were new to me.

The title didn’t give much away and I can confirm there was not a drone in sight… perhaps some in sound, though, for this concert was a spectacular convergence of the acoustic and the synthetic.

Polish composer Łukasz Targosz wasn’t a name I was familiar with, nor were the series’ Pakt and Pitbull. While the big players and titles were to follow, it was actually Łukasz’s opening set that ended up being the highlight of the first half. His music saw the truest and most impressive example of the ‘live’ union of orchestra and synthetic sounds, with all of the  non acoustic sounds being performed by musi on stage. The composer himself performed on the Moog synthesiser, hang and typewriter (!), with further amazing sounds coming from his talented friends. The most interesting sight was that of Görkem Sen playing the ‘Yaybahar’, a stringed/bowed synthesise of his own invention.


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The rest of the first half was given over to the music of Cliff Martinez, with  atmospheric and dreamlike sororities from scores such as the sublime (and sexy) ‘Drive’ and ‘Only God Forgives’. It was a long set, which lacked the fire and punch of the opener, and notable for the lack of live synth performers. Still, it was enveloping and beautiful on the whole.

Part Two was a feast, with a (thankfully) lengthy selection of cues by the brilliant Jóhann Jóhannsson. He is a composer who seems to have taken me by surprise, despite rather obviously being around and doing his things for a long while. His Oscar-nominated score for ‘Sicario’ made for a spine-tingling listen – what a cracker – while ‘The Theory of Everything’ (also Oscar nominated) proved to be its antithesis, being just so darned beautiful. The orchestra was joined by Ondes Martinot and another new instrument for me, the Cristal Baschet – a fascinating creation made of many glass rods (to be rubbed with wet hands… complete with tub of water for the performer).


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The final word – more of an exclamation really – went to composer Joseph Trapanese, who conducted his own selections from ‘Earth to Echo’, the ‘Divergent’ series, ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Tron: Uprising’. This was ballsy, epic music in the Zimmer mould; perfectly executed and a complete thrill to hear live.

So, a thrilling second night for me in Kraków. Tomorrow we get animated…