Cold water in the face is too mild a description for the effect of Grzegorz Kwiatkowski’s poems. What they present is simultaneously so human and so barbaric that nausea may be the truest response—coupled with, for me anyway, a contradictory compulsion to keep reading, a desire not to look away.
Gdansk rockers add fresh pre-punk ingredients to their Baltic bouillabaisse. The first three tracks of this sinewy sixth album revisit the taut post-hardcore that earned Grzegorz Kwiatkowski’s muscular quartet the reductive but appealing soubriquet ‘the Polish Fugazi’. The next five take them into new territory. Lines brings a clear (and all the more welcome for its unexpectedness) echo of mid-period Pink Floyd to the table. Uniforms’ sinister singalong chorus, “I wanna be all my uniforms” also showcases serious stadium-rock potential, while All And All could be one of those tantalising McCartney new song fragments in Get Back. When that woozy melodic miasma kicks into the ferocious moshpit churn of Uselessness – imagine Fire Dances-era Killing Joke asked to write a song about Covid-19 in an unspecified second language – it feels like Trupa Trupa have cracked it.
Ben Thompson, MOJO
From the underground music scene of Gdansk, Poland, come this excellent four-piece whose unlikely combination of driving rhythms, sweet atmospheric moments and surreal sense of humour add up to a post-punk Pink Floyd, with awkwardness and dreaminess in equal measure. All and All sounds like the kind of cosmic glide that could have come off The Dark Side of the Moon, but Uselessness rumbles with menace. Very much an authentically Polish take on rock history, this is a fascinating and unique record, driven by a real sense of urgency.
Will Hodgkinson, The Times
Coming to the capital after the worst storm in 30 years, Trupa Trupa appeared to take the challenges of being on tour in the midst of such meteorological mayhem in their stride. “So good to be in London after two years of hell,” said Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, the singer of the band, from Gdansk in Poland, which took elements of progressive rock, punk and the avant-garde and infused them with a sense of humour.
In his life and art, Grzegorz Kwiatkowski has devoted himself to anti-fascism, which, in his native Poland, has become something of a full-time job. As a descendent of a concentration-camp survivor, he’s channeled themes of intergenerational trauma and the banality of evil into celebrated works of poetry that have led to guest-lecturer gigs at universities around the world.
Haifa Interdisciplinary Unit for Polish Studies and the Sir Isaac Wolfson Chair of Jewish Thought invite you to a Zoom meeting with the Polish poet and musician: Grzegorz Kwiatkowski.
Imagine the Beatles and Velvet Underground reading Hannah Arendt while in the studio with film director Michael Haneke. That’s Trupa Trupa in a nutshell, a Gdańsk-based band who spent the last decade perfecting their balancing act between lyrical songs and crushing psychedelia.
I don’t often review poetry on this blog. The last — and, in fact, the only — time I did was Andrew McLuhan’s Written Matter last February. But, once again, words without music, or with music entirely in the head, call.