straw pole
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


[this is the fifth in a continuing series, exploring the music i discovered when travelling in europe last fall]

To Poland!

We arrived in Warsaw before dawn. We walked to our hostel through the worst snowstorm that Poland's seen in decades. But that was okay. Warsaw is a heavy city, almost oppressively post-communist in feeling, everything squatting concrete or, like the Palace of Culture, top-heavy and looming. The old city is handsome, but even there I couldn't escape the knowledge of the sprawl all around us, the people packed into coats, the endless stretches of sidewalk.

Krakow, meanwhile, was one of the most joyous experiences on my trip. Wawel Palace and the older districts are individually characteristic, elegant, but then there's the sense that as the city extends, so too does a vivid cultural life, arts and individuality. We ate cheap pierogies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We saw posters for the Cool Kids of Death. I bought music.

Siekiera - "Ludzie wschodu".

Siekiera's fantastic 1986 album, Nowa Aleksandria, was entirely unknown to me, and it comes to my hands because of Paulo's comment on this blog. Thank-you, Paulo, wherever you are.

"Ludzie wschodu" is icy and hot, it quickens the blood. It's cold wave from communist Poland, both awkward-hip and disorientingly alien. They sing in Polish, but amid post-punk keyboard stabs or the growl of the guitar, it's easy to understand the simple human noise of "hey!", "da da da" or "hey-ha". Joy Division is certainly a major touchstone (especially in the drums), but there's a greater fury here - unlike the Manchester boys, these Poles are expressing some of their pent-up feeling. A train-car rattles and then we're off, soles on a pavement, the arc and flare of street-lights, the long lure of an alley. 'Siekiera' means 'The Axes'. There's violence in the music, but also the ache of violence unexpressed. It's a chill that you shake off, a rage you vent spastically, in a basement. (And, like the whole of the album, it's awsesome.) [buy]

On the other side of the spectrum - ROBOTOBIBOK.

ROBOTOBIBOK - "Skipping C". This is a contemporary Polish alt.jazz combo, and "Skipping C" comes from 2004's Nawyki Przyrody. It's a wheeling mix of horns, drums, and a boiling vibraphone, energy and flowing feeling, then the skittering human fade-out of vocal sounds and song. Instead of being bored by the track's circular energy, I love it - there are brave stabs amid the repetition, streaming impulses that make each repeat a renewal, a reincarnation. It's a city's flow, the silver threads of streets, dawn's burst of population, swirling lanes, then the fade-out of sun, the emptying-out of those valleys. It's no surprise to me that the band's played next to both Fennesz and the Chicago Underground trio. Visit their website to buy the album, and to grab some more mp3s.



John at the Tofu Hut is looking to try something new. He is one of the hardest working mp3bloggers, spending countless hours on research and composition, far beyond the average amount of writing and scavenging. He is soliciting donations - regular donations - to see if he can't make a micropayment go at Tofu Hut full-time. I applaud his decision to resist advertising, and so too do I suspect he's the mp3blogger most deserving of financial support. Please head on over there and consider helping to support the work he does. (While you still can, you must also download Xn.'s glittering, stunning live cover of Sufjan Stevens' "Vito's Ordination Song".)

Also loving this track at Stereogum, by (sixeyes faves) the Akron/Family.


After yesterday's total silence, could someone comment today so that I know that the new comment system is working? (Thank-you!)

Posted by Sean at April 12, 2005 8:55 AM

comment ahoy!

Posted by geirge at April 12, 2005 9:25 AM

It's working. Love the music, love the writing. Ah hell, I love you too. Let's get married.

Posted by Tuwa at April 12, 2005 11:22 AM

Go Poland! Woo.

Posted by Mike at April 12, 2005 12:19 PM

loud and clear homie!!
thanks for the tunes

Posted by mike at April 12, 2005 1:43 PM

seems to work...

Posted by mr g at April 12, 2005 4:57 PM

I completely agree with you about advertising. It is deceptive brainwashing that attempts to reshape our personalities and egos so that they are dependant on giving corperations our blood, sweat, and tears. Thank you for resisting the urge to profit from my humanity.

Posted by jaik at April 12, 2005 10:00 PM

Cant make head or tail of your articles. Still read them everyday !!

Luv ya !!

Posted by Zaidie Ben at April 13, 2005 6:10 PM

Just thought I'd drop in with the lyrics and a rough translation for the Siekiera song.

Czy tu się głowy ścina?
(does the throat get cut here?)
Czy zjedli tu murzyna?
(Did they eat a Negro here?)
Czy leży tu Madonna?
(Is Madonna lying here?)
Czy jest tu jazda konna?
(Is there a horse riding here?)
Czy w nocy dobrze śpicie?
(Do they sleep well at night?)
Czy śmierci się boicie?
(Are you afraid of death?)
Czy zabił ktoś tokarza?
(Did they kill the turner*?)
Czy często się to zdarza?
(Does this happen often?)
and then a repetition of:
Czy tu się głowy ścina?
Czy zjedli tu murzyna?
Czy leży tu Madonna?
Czy jest tu jazda konna?

*- as in the craftsman who makes things from wood or metal...

So I hope this sheds some light for you all!

Posted by Stefan at April 21, 2005 2:26 PM

Post a comment

(Please be patient, it can be slow.)
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.

Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
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Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
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our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny