As we dive into the intricate blend of aternative sounds of Żurawie’s new album “Nowa Stocznia,” released today on Koty Records, we witness an evolution in their sound. This album, coming two years after their debut “Poza Zasięgiem,” marks a bold step forward, melding alternative rock with an atmospheric Polish punk ethos. Each track in “Nowa Stocznia” represents a unique experiment in sound and storytelling, moving away from traditional song structures to offer an element of surprise.
The band has infused their music with more layers, faster tempos, alternative tunings, and electronic elements like drum loops and guitar loops, enhancing the richness and complexity of their sound.
Żurawie’s journey in “Nowa Stocznia” is one of introspection and bold musical explorations. From the polyrhythmic breakdowns and tribute to influential bands in “Inne Światy” to the thematic depth in songs like “Wody Jest Niewiele” and “Hałas,” each track is a narrative in itself.
The album weaves through various themes—self-reflection in “Hałas,” societal critique in “Wizja Lokalna,” and personal struggles in “Paraliż.” It culminates with “Największy Cień,” a poignant reflection on loss and mortality.
“Ścieki” delves into the abuse of power and its consequences, while “Szum” contemplates the inevitable changes in life. The inclusion of field recordings and innovative sound design further adds to the album’s immersive experience.
Here’s the full track by track commentary, issued by the band, explaining both creative part and content matter of each song from “Nowa Stocznia”.
1. Inne Światy (The Other Worlds)
Mateusz: I wrote the main riff over 7 years ago, but I couldn’t come up with the rest of the track for years to come. Last summer Michał reminded us about its existence, while we were working on writing the songs for „Nowa Stocznia”. We knew that the new album needed to have a proper first track, one that would set the tone and the energy. We jammed this riff, the rest of the parts came up naturally. I listened to a lot of Meshuggah and Godflesh albums at the time of writing the record, so that polyrhythmic breakdown and guitar solo at the end are a tiny tribute to those bands on my part. And I really wanted to hear some glitched sounds on a Żurawie record!
Michał: The song is basically about being unhappy with the state of one’s life. Time goes by very fast and it’s easy to wake up having spent half of your life only to realize you don’t even enjoy it anymore. And that you’d probably do so many things differently given an opportunity. But the truth is you can turn your life upside down anytime, start all over again and live it true to yourself. Nobody says such a change is easy but it is possible and it is definitely worth it.
2. Wody Jest Niewiele (There Is Little Water Left)
Mateusz: I had no idea what to play when we first were playing this during rehearsals. Ignacy brought pretty much the whole track to the practice space, with the main riff, bridge, lyrics, really everything apart from the bassline. Ignacy and Michał both have their unique takes on writing melodies, they always make me think „Ok, this sounds great, now what am I supposed to add to this without ruining it at the same time?”. That track was one of those moments. I can’t play jazz, I’m not a schooled bassist, I just try to come up with basslines that support the drums and enhance the song, without them sounding lazy. I’m happy with how it turned out, I think the chromatic parts fit the weird chords just right.
Michał: It is also our second single and a second music video we created for „Nowa Stocznia”. Ignacy came up with the idea for a fight between two tv shopping presenters which we together with Stefano Altoparlante developed into the final creation. The difficult part was the very fight scenes and the effort to make them as natural looking as possible. We were going to be satisfied with anything really but we couldn’t be happier with how it actually turned out. The shots are also heavily inspired by the ones from Kill Bill movies and in fact some viewers recognized that.
Ignacy: My initial aim lyrically was to describe the distorted perspective one can have. Somewhere along the way my focus shifted and the track ended up being about pointless conflicts that happen every day between people. Unfortunately, it is harder and harder to avoid being fed biased information which eventually turns friends into enemies. There is no easy answer to this nor do I think there ever will be, but I would like more people to stop for a minute and think: why exactly are we hostile to each other and is it really worth it?
3. Hałas (The Noise)
Mateusz: Hałas is definetely one of my favourite tracks that we’ve ever written. It’s like this amalgamate of The Great Annihilator era of Swans, with Mike Bordin’s (Faith No More) driving drum groove. At one point of our rehearsal Ignacy just started playing this groove out of nowhere, I started playing the synths at random, Michał added the guitar, all of the parts were pure improvisation. After the initial jam, we had the parts figured out and written during the same rehearsal, it took us two, maybe three takes. The idea came to us as a surprise, but in our terms – that’s the kind of ideas that often signal us that the songs is going to be really good. Certainly one of my live set favourites.
Michał: „Hałas” is a way of looking at yourself as a house for all of the thoughts, emotions and experiences. If you don’t treat yourself right the rooms of your house may start to rot and the pictures on the walls could fade away. It’s also about intrusive thoughts and different ways of dealing with them. Making sure that you stay sane while everything around you seems to have gone crazy a long time ago.
4. Przejście Pod Mostem (The Passage Under The Bridge)
Mateusz: I really wanted to create something of an interlude to be played before Wizja Lokalna on the album. I have a very soft spot in my heart for artists that can pull this off right, without sounding too corny. One late evening I took my acoustic guitar and came up with this little melody right away. Recording it was funny – in order to make the guitar sound more naturally, like if someone was playing it in a room next to the listener, we had decided to record it in a bathroom. Ignacy set up two microphones and recorded the whole thing. Something I always wanted to do in a song was to use field recordings, and my friend Jędrzej Ciećwierz supplied us with audio recordings of local trains. I think it’s a much better track thanks to those.
Michał: Although ultimately an instrumental we also had a version with vocals. You will be able to read the lyrics in the booklet of our physical CD version or on our website www.zurawie.band. I had those written for a very long time and instantly they matched very well with the guitar line Mateusz composed. It’s a short take on the atmosphere of the last months of the year. It’s about being tired and just waiting for a new fresh beginning that a new year brings.
5. Wizja Lokalna (The Local Vision)
Mateusz: Certainly of the weirdest (in a good way) songs we’ve ever written. We were staying in the countryside just like we did when recorded the previous two records, jamming and relaxing. Ignacy showed us this short riff he had come up with. I recorded and looped it instantly, but I did so really only as a way to be able to come up with other parts. Next thing we know, Ignacy had figured out the drum pattern, Michał quickly came up with the lyrics, and I threw in some synth parts in the background. It reminds me of Radiohead from “A Moon Shaped Pool” and “Kid A” eras. For me, it’s kind of what “Ghosts of My Life” by Mark Fisher would sound like, if the book was turned into a song. I like it a lot. I think the E-bow guitar solo turned out well too. The whole album is really full of moments where we experiment with the sound not only from the songwriting point of view, but from sound design perspective as well. Since we don’t use MIDI tracks or VSTs for playing live, we take a serious approach to our setups when we’re dialing in the right sound whenever we record new material (we’re far from being audiophiles though – we’ll play what’s available and make it sound as good as we can!).
Michał: The lyrics to this song are filled with irony. I describe the view of my surroundings which is full of drunks and aggressive people on destroyed streets full of holes and dirty buildings that used to be colorful. Normalizing pathological behaviours mixes with poor economical situation creating a very depressing picture of life.
6. Paraliż (The Paralysis)
Mateusz: The track that took the longest time to write, the one I’m particularly proud of, also and the one that for me is an absolute ***** to play live (laughter). I have had that synth sequence recorded for a long time and I think it took us literally years in order to figure out a way to use it in a song. Daft Punk have been one of my main musical influences from a very young age, before I had even thought about picking up guitar. That synth sequence is definitely heavily inspired by their music. Ignacy encouraged me to add a solo to that track while blasting most of my guitar fx up to 11 – and the end of the track you can hear the looping feedback and me absolutely thrashing the strings with fists as it was the last guitar part recorded for the album. Musically it’s the most colourful track on the record, I think it’s the only one that really captures the wide spectrum of inspirations that we bring to our listeners. To me this is what Depeche Mode and Daft Punk would sound like, if they where heavily into Melvins, Boris, Kimbra and black metal. Sounds screwed up enough? Good, it should because it is!
Michał: Probably the longest we’ve spent on recording vocals with this one. The main line went very smoothly but when it came to harmonies we really wanted to take our time and try many different options. The goal was to add some space and depth which we think turned out well. „Paraliż” is a take on procrastination and the state of having so many plans, ideas and responsibilities yet ending up doing nothing.
7. Szum (The Interference)
Mateusz: Writing this one took me about 10 minutes at my parents’ home. Sometimes ideas just “happen” and it was one of those – I just grabbed my old guitar and the parts came to me instantly. The thing is that those ideas only really work well, when Michał and Ignacy add their own ideas to them. I’m happy that they liked it from the start and enhanced it to a whole another level with their parts. I think Michał wrote some great lyrics to it, him and Ignacy being the great lyricists that they are. Which is relieving, because it means that I don’t have to cringe while listening to my own lyrics!
Michał: It is an attempt of accepting the inevitable changes that occur in everyone’s lives. People that you grew up with aren’t there anymore, once a part of your everyday life now just a shadow reminding you of the past. It is about growing up and the moment in life when everything suddenly picks up the pace. New people in new places and so much going on that only when you sit down in silence to reflect you realize what you’ve been through and that you didn’t even have time to feel tired. During the shooting the video for the single there was a funny moment (at least now, not so much back then) while working on the night scenes. We were at a slight hill in the center of Gdańsk’s district. Fortunately there were not a lot of people and cars around at this time of evening as we turned on the smoke machine which our friend brought for this occasion. As it turned out it was way more powerful than we ever thought it would be. The big cloud started to drift towards the street and to our dismay it didn’t want to disappear creating a foggy atmosphere over the whole area. We started filming franticly to get things done before someone comes for us all while listening to alarm sirens coming from nearby expressway. Eventually nobody came and we were very happy with the material that we managed to capture.
8. Ścieki (The Sewage)
Mateusz: Michał’s sense of melody has always made me question my (very basic) understanding of music theory, but when he brought this whole track to the rehearsal, I felt like I was holding an instrument in my hands for the first time. I mean, listen to the parts at 1:25 and 3:02. Does this qualify as jazz? What is the key? Why and how does it sound so good and make so much sense musically? Honestly it’s mind-boggling to me. And Ignacy’s drumming on this one? He really killed it all the way through the record, but I think he really shines in the last two tracks – it’s like he’s throwing you into a gauntlet of fists with his drumming, before you can catch a breath and realize what happened, you’re already getting sucker puched again and again. It just sounds really massive and in-your-face. I love it, he’s an amazing musician and producer. Glad to have those two guys as friends.
Michał: The topic is power and it’s abuse. Where there is someone with power over other people it may lead to various tragedies. Accidents on the streets, abuse at work places, government’s decisions affecting thousands of people and making their lives miserable, presidents-dictators killing millions of innocent people. There is the question of where does all these people hatred come from and how should we react to it. How could you possibly forgive? „The boat” mentioned in the lyrics is an imaginary place in the middle of the ocean for all the people that are wasting the oxygen here and are unable to coexist in the society.
9. Największy Cień (The Greatest Shadow)
Największy cień is a track that I didn’t think would make it to the album. I brought it to our rehearsal, played the verse and chorus riffs, it sounded like I had mixed up the band rehearsals. We played it for some time, came up with the bridge and outro parts. It grew from this fairly simply structured song into some kind of Trap-Them-meets-Meshuggah-meets-King-Crimson-meets-whatever-the-hell-it-is. Ignacy does this great hardcore punk drum’n’bass beat, with Michał laying the foundation with his bassline, while I do some ambient pads and let all hell loose on the solo take. Funny thing is that the guitar solo was an improvised single take, of which I was made aware only recently – I thought Ignacy mashed up a couple of those, but apparently that was not the case. I’m very happy with the way this song turned out. As we always joke – a good song the end the album with (those make approximately 95% of our material!).
Michał: „Największy Cień” tells a story about longing for a deceased dear person. Losing your mind and imagining the moment of your own death as the stars fade in the sky and death itself comes for your last breath. Still it gives you the sense of acceptance of your own mortality knowing that after you’re gone both of you can once again be together in the death’s warm embrace. Part of the lyrics actually came to me just hours before our live show when we were going to play this song for the first time.