Piotr Kurek’s new album “Smartwoods” is a sprawling root system of tiny melodic phrases that loop and curl around subtly evolving instrumental thickets. The Warsaw-based producer and composer takes his cues from early music, baroque music and experimental jazz, entangling his influences with filigree traces of contemporary computer music and fueling it with sonic vapors from the near future.
Made up of seven distinct segments, the album blurs its acoustic and electronic elements into an illusory hedge of abstract sound. Harp, saxophone, clarinet, double bass, voices and guitar twist into computerized processes and synthesizer chirps, creating an uncanny dreamworld where the real isn’t always what it seems. Each player is entwined with the other to create a living, breathing whole.
Like Kurek’s painterly 2021 album “World Speaks”, “Smartwoods” is also inspired by visual art - particularly the whimsical work of Algerian-French graphic designer Jean Sariano. The album cover features artwork by Polish painter Tomasz Kowalski, whose shapeshifting creatures and miniature stories aptly reflect the music’s wild fantasy. The first manifestation of “Smartwoods” – a live show at Unsound in Kraków in 2022 – featured animations by Italian artist Francesco Marrello, who put together a visual treatment for the single “Harps”.