The Kurws: post-punk, noise rock, all that jazz

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I have known about The Kurws for some time now, but it is hard to tell, if I remembered the name because of their music, or is that just because I can swear fluently in many languages. Whatever the reason, yesterday they performed in Vilnius, and I was there, and it was fun!

Do I like them because they are more punk-ish and more Polish Acoustic Ladyland? Yes and no. They definitely resemble AL, and that is a somewhat good thing. But AL put emphasis on more clean and jazzy sound, with a lot of space for the saxophone line, while The Kurws, even though with a fair amount of free jazz/improv passages, are bending towards punk or math rock, and each and every player has a fair amount of time to shine. What makes them stand out among so many (too many) other instrumental bands, is that they really manage to balance their sound. Yesterday there was no “improv for the sake of improv” moments. If they get too much into experimentation, soon they will hit you with something close to noise. Then there will be some sax solo. And some old good punk (it seems that the band started from punk? Legend says they were formed after some ping-pong game, so that seems legit). And then again, the sound is light and enjoyable, and there are no schizophrenic changes of direction — the chaos is well-rounded, a round of applause for that.

And at some point after the gig, on a merch table, I saw an adorable – ADORABLE – tape. It was all pink, and it had a hooker and a pig on it.

A some-what related story. Just a couple of days ago, in one infamous local basement, after consuming just enough alcohol to try winning arguments by shouting, I found myself in a dispute about the packaging of the releases and – once again – if MC is still better than mp3. I was trying to convince my opponent, that neither package nor the format is important, and the only thing which matters is the music and ideas behind it. You know – that the sound is in the ear of the beholder.

– BECAUSE THEY CAN MAKE THE COOLEST ARTWORK, BUT IF THE SOUND IS SHITTY IT IS SHITTY. NO MATTER IF IT IN IS A CASSETTE OR ON VINYL OR MP3, – I declared. – IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE YOU LOVE CONCEPTUAL ART, TOO, – I accused the opponent with the ultimate sin. Probably I take these matters way too personal when I am tipsy. Or drinking brandy from a bottle – ladylike.

Deep down I had way more complex point. The more I go to events, the more I wonder, at what point a person decides s/he can come up the stage and perform to others. Couple of weeks ago, during one overall quite lovely concert in Kaunas, I have spent an hour – listening in the beginning, bitching till the end – to one Lithuanian laptop “performer”, who tortured us with the most plain and emotionless performance ever. At some point I started to wonder, does he hate everyone, or just this audience in particular. That bad. And he is not alone in his mission – there are hordes of so-called artists, hiding behind concepts and innovations, flashing apples into our faces. OK, yes, not every laptop performer is boring, not everyone who has shitloads of gadgets is a genius. But there are some tendencies – at least there is a slight chance, that those who invest into (or make) their own gear, will also invest their time into self-criticism.

And here we are again at my all-time favourite rambling theme – too many people think too good about themselves. That is why too many people put out too many worthless “art”. Not everyone is an artist – get over it. Nobody needs yet another laptop ambient project. You do not need to be an artist if you want to be cool – be an interesting person instead. That is way easier, and that is how you will make a favor for everyone – those who should be heard, and those who want to find fine and original works of art easier.

And this is where the hooker and the pig is comin’ back to the spotlight. After seeing, and getting, that tape, I had to change my belief, that the packaging doesn’t matter – because it does, but in a different way. Awesome music will go with awesome artworks, because awesome music is created by interesting musicians, who have vision and their own style. It is a form of expression – and that is old news, obviously. Yet still somehow, for me it was some kind of epiphany. All hail the Kurws for that – ani lepiej, ani gorzej.

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