This is certainly a period in time when there are a whole host of brilliant hard rock and progressive rock bands coming from Poland to enjoy. So it was no surprise surprise to come across a Polish band outside of the mainstream of rock who offer a brand of music served up from a completely different angle. A band who are as equally brilliant as their Polish progressive rock contemporaries and who are producing their own brand of enjoyable psyche drenched, fun soaked musical theatre.
The band in question are ‘The White Kites’ a band who serve up an incredibly delicious slice of whimsical psychedelia wrapped up within a set of warm melodic songs. A Polish band that sound anything other than Polish. The diction and vocal phrasing of the vocals are so typically British that they could have evolved down London’s Old Kent Road. Certainly and not in any way do they borrow an American vernacular and it is clear that there seems to be little musical connotation to their Polish routes .However, I presumed that a clue to their Britishness might well lay with their lead singer ‘Sean Palmer.’ and so I investigated further by contacting him and I am pleased to say that he provided me with wealth of interesting information to which I’m indebted, some of which I have stolen and other bits I have inserted.
The credit for the spark which initiated the origins of the ‘White Kites’ can be traced back to the time when composer and keyboard player ‘Jakub Lenarczyk had put together a midi album of songs based on the poems of A.A. Milne. Subsequently Jakub contacted Englishman ‘Sean Palmer’ a resident of Warsaw and also a working vocalist and playwright. He wanted him to give the midi album a listen and also pen new songs to fit the arrangements. This was the start of regular meetings between the two during which time they wrote, discussed and expanded on ideas for the AA Milne project. At the same time Jakub gathered together an experienced and eclectic group of session musicians to record the various sections of the album which was then released as their first album entitled ‘Missing’ in 2014.
Now, after a wait of six years, ‘Devillusion,’ the second album from ‘The White Kites,’ has been released for us to enjoy. It is an album that, more or less, follows the same sparkling energetic styled psychedelic formula as previous. However, there seems to be a slightly more relaxed air to the proceedings especially from a vocal perspective with the songs following a direction more towards the whacky realms of eccentricity. Not only does frontman ‘Sean Palmer’ sing the songs in a grandiose fun style but in doing so he strongly interprets the expressive meaning of the lyrics in true musical hall style. In fact his clever interpretation of the lyrics bring the stories completely to life and in doing so he elevates the fine musicianship to an even higher level.
The songs are all so beautifully sculptured with layers upon layers of jaunty keyboards providing avenues for the lead and bass guitars to burst forth. Exquisite flute that too that dances in and out of the main body of the music. From an instrumental perspective there is just so much energy contained within the framework of the music, especially notable being the cross section of cleverly arranged drumming to suit the mood and flow of the music. Indeed it is a catalogue of melodious delights from start to finish packed to the brim with emotional ingredients that cannot but help elevate your spirits. A set of tunes for which you will never tire and indeed will provide endless fun in the same way as a soundtrack from a favourite theatrical production.
Taking this album under my arm for review raised many questions particularly as to whether the key ingredient for the distinctly British flavour was due to the influence of Englishman Sean. For which I received the following and quite perfect reply:- “To answer your question, or negate your hypothesis: no I’m not the British influence, rather the Union Jack bunting for a garden party of perfectly made Victoria sponge, using Polish ingredients.”
Another intrigue for me was how well the very British inspired music of ‘The White Kites’ was received by the ‘Polish’ audience, again Sean provided me with an interesting answer. :-
“Polish audiences are awesome. They get down to the upbeat jiggy numbers and contemplate the contemplative ones. In my banter between songs. I translate lyrics live on stage, which adds a layer of comedy to the shows because my Polish is fluent, but not perfect. Our look is very important. A skeleton king and his crew of scurvy pirates. We want to evoke the British music of the sixties and seventies, fantasy, fairy-tale, psychedelia and rock. I know that we are serious about bringing a show, not just a concert. This genre of music is exclusively connected to the English language British or otherwise. A psych rock educated Polish audience considers its authenticity on that level. It is niche and a form which is open to modernisation / hybridisation
1 Spinning Lizzie
2 Rather Odd
3 Not a Brownie
4 Warsaw Summer
5 Frozen Heartland
8 Viral Spiral
10 Mysteries in the Sky
12 Goodbye Gaia
13 Mother Mars
14 Fallen Star
Sean Palmer - vocals
Przemek Piłaciński - guitars
Jakub Lenarczyk - keyboards
Paweł Betley - flute
Marysia Białota - rhodes piano bass
Jakub Tolak - drums
Ola Bilińska – vocals (4, 10, 13)
Bartek Woźniak – guitars (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14)
Katarzyna Gaweł – saxophone (14)
Darek Falana – clarinet (3, 5, 8)
Przemek Piłaciński - flugelhorn (13) / percussion (1 / 6 / 8 / 9)
Bartek Woźniak - percussion and banjo (7)
Marysia Białota - combo organ (1) / mellotron, rhodes and synths (13) / background vocals (5)
Jakub Lenarczyk - percussion (3 / 11) / background vocals (8 / 14)
Aneta Popiel - Machnicka - graphic design
Michał Popiel - Machnicki - graphic design
All songs by Lenarczyk / Palmer
except “Mother Mars” by Białota / Piłaciński / Palmer
and “Mysteries in the Sky” by Białota / Lenarczyk / Bilińska
Produced by The White Kites
Recorded by Jakub Lenarczyk / Przemek Piłaciński
at Halo Studio, BA-BA Sound Studio and Strange New Sounds
mixed and mastered by Przemek Piłaciński at Strange New Sounds
From the Internet : The group was formed in 2014 in Warsaw (Poland), hailing from traditional British rock from the 60’s and 70’s (Genesis, Pink Floyd, Robert Wyatt, The Zombies), though woven into their music listeners can also fnd folk, Broadway and medieval infuences. The foundations for this unique sound and style stem from the experience of the band members from art-rock (Przemek Pilacinski), folk (Pawel Betley), post-rock (Jakub Tolak) all the way to the theatricality of the vocals (Sean Palmer). The debut album “Missing” (2014) garnered a plethora of complementary reviews from the press (Teraz Rock, Lizard, Shindig Magazine, Koid'9) as well as online music zines around the world. After releasing their album the Kites toured Poland and the UK. After fve years away from the studio, The White Kites return with something new, the album “Devillusion” which has a planned release date in September this year. As on the frst album, listeners will be met with a mixture of psychedelic, baroque pop, Canterbury Sounds and full favoured rock. The album is being preceded by the singles „Spinning Lizzie“ and „Fallen Star“. From a musical perspective the album „Devillusion“ is a kaleidoscope based on a core of rock and blues-rock (Spinning Lizzie, Blurred), with a strong infuence of psychedelia (Not a Browie, QRMA) and art-rock (Fallen Star).