Imagine stolen sounds, embezzled and reinvented into audio landscapes: where stillness meets anxiety and natural embraces industrial. Imagine a particular moment in music where electro joins acoustic to – oddly enough – make absolute sense. Imagine nature speaking in language of wires and cords. Is that even possible, you may ask. Let’s see – or rather listen – shall we? Ladies and gentlemen, here I present you Tundra: the perfect oxymoron.
Tundra is made of two: Dawid Adrjanczyk and Krzysztof Joczyn. Originating from the Baltic coast, it was – at first – supposed to be a self-titled, single record project, but seems like its authors already have something new planned for the future. The name itself enforces strong associations: you do not have to be great at geography to imagine how arctic scenery might look and feel like. Of course, we could concentrate now on the similarities between noise and nature and how individual instruments or devices translate into sounds simulating wildlife, but I consider it a bit too literal. And literal, my friends, is boring, while the work of Tundra – based on improvisation – is raw, fresh and surprising. There is no magical ingredient here though, the secret lies in the balance between the acoustic and electronic elements. They do not interfere, rather penetrate into each other: bells and flutes complement samplers and tapes, synthesizers accompany harmonica – all dipped deep in hypnotizing loops. While Dawid is a master of conquering space with layers of abandoned sounds and stolen noises, Krzysztof adds the necessary folk/ethno vibe with the wireless instruments and materials he uses to create bumps and jangles. This project is not only what electroacoustic is all about, but also superbly presents the definition of lo-fi. All tracks from the self-titled debut album have been recorded and produced by the guys themselves in a DIY way at home.
Obviously, there are many elements proving the project’s name was not chosen randomly –after all it was the seemingly dull yet demanding tundra’s territory that inspired Dawid and Krzysztof. The most interesting parallel here results from the restrictions imposed by musicians on their work, as well as by nature on the fauna and flora of the arctic region. There is a very limited spectrum of volume and intensity in which Tundra operates. Building tension in such challenging conditions requests enormously high level of musical sensitivity not only from the composers but also from the audience. Without spoken or sung stories it is our imagination that has to paint the picture, create those tales shot by shot, word by word. You have to let yourself into the infinite possibilities of associations, impressions and memories. At some point Dawid asked me what exactly it was I saw while I was listening to their music. As this is not the right place to share everything what comes to mind, I will use lines written by Ryan Adams in one of his poems to help me describe the vision: if you raced me home / you would end up / in the woods / woods – white / silent and scary / but you know that now / you know.
This sort of sound was avant-garde back in 1939, when John Cage let the world into his Imaginary Landscapes. Nowadays it might seem like yet another version of what was already done in the past. The word experimental suddenly lacks its originality. One has to remember though: while huge part of Cage’s – and his followers’ – work could be defined as sonic art, Tundra is heading rather towards the sonic architecture department. Fascinated by unlimited, unknown space, they build true music out of scratch. It takes some seriously beautiful minds to create such unique moods and tell captivating stories without saying a word.