The solo album by Michal Wojtas, frontman of the band Amarok, opens the door to the musical world created from remarkable sounds coming from both the heart and nature. “Lore” is inspired by Celtic, Old Slavic and Nordic motifs, so there will be no shortage of discreet, relaxing sounds, as well as slightly stronger electronics and ambient on this journey.
Wojtas himself describes working on the album as an extraordinary, passionate experience:
„Lore’s music was created for a performance by British choreographer James Wilton under the same title. I am grateful to him for the musical challenge, which allowed me to dive into an interesting aesthetic from the old days and combine it with new sounds. Working on the material was really enthralling for me. When composing music for a show, film, or games, you can never really know what direction it will take you. During the creation process, the various song themes I’ve sent to James influenced the different parts of the choreography.
I invite you to join me on a journey to a musical world filled with Celtic, Viking and Old Slavic sounds in a contemporary interpretation.”
“Lore” will be released on CD by OSKAR Records at the end of February 2023 containing 9 tracks representing a combination of folklore and electronica.
The CD is already available for pre–order at IndependentMusicMarket.com Single „Lore on the streaming platforms: https://michalwojtas.fanlink.to/singlelore
Amarok is back with a new album! Michał and Marta Wojtas are joined by their old friends – Kornel Popławski and Konrad Zieliński. The result of this collaboration is the album ‘Hero’ – a spiritual sequel to the 2017 ‘Hunt’.
Much like the aforementioned ‘Hunt’, the upcoming album presents a fusion of musical styles known and loved by fans and critics alike. Here the sounds of progressive rock folk and ambient mix together, complemented by a wonderful and subtle guitar virtuosity. The soundscape feels exotic, thanks to the use of uncommon instruments such as violin, theremin, wind gong, djembe, harmonium, flute, and rainsticks.
The pieces have a strong lyrical layer, with their vocals referencing the ongoing digitalization of our life and the unsure position of a human in the future world. There are also beautiful instrumental fragments reminiscent of film scores similar in style to the depictions from the War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Hero is a story of a protagonist, fighting for survival, going up against reality and themselves. It’s about everyone courageously facing the unknown. The lyrics based on this idea, also touch on the current pandemic and the state of the world.
The upcoming album ‘Hero’ is a collection of innovative, fresh, and spatial compositions with just as good lyrical parts, that inquires into our current questions about the future. We recommend spending a while to relax, reflect and enter the world of this unique music. The climate of each and every piece mesmerizes the first time you hear it and brings you back again and again.
Amarok is a music project started in 1999 by a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist – Michał Wojtas, inspired by the music of Mike Oldfield and Pink Floyd. Previously they’ve worked together with artists such as Colin Bass, (Camel) and Mariusz Duda (Riverside, Lunatic Soul).
Their newest album ‘Hero’ is the second part of the musical trilogy started by the ‘Hunt’ in 2017. This time Michał Wojtas and Marta Wojtas will be joined by Kornel Popławski (bass, synths, violin) and Konrad Zieliński (drums). You can expect complex arrangements encompassing progressive rock, folk and ambient. All that created using a wide variety of exotic instruments, making up the mystical atmosphere characteristic of Amarok’s works.
I have no qualms in pushing bands that are new to my ears. The plethora of talent around at the moment is wonderful to behold. I don’t wish to detract from the older bands of my youth and still love and listen to the music I grew up with, but more and more I find myself checking out the new kids on the block (no, not the boy band) as they truly represent a progression in the genres. Everything can go in the musical blender and come out in the mix and though not all of it works and won’t appeal to everyone, there should be something you will find to your taste in there.
I personally feel this is the best time since the 70’s for new music and like an addict I devour neoteric tunes and the bands that make them, trying to sate my appetite. Whilst I am time poor, the chance to review some of these releases is an opportunity I relish and, with a couple of exceptions, have been lucky to like most of what I’ve heard.
So it came as a surprise to me when I agreed to review Amarok‘s album ‘Hunt’, that it is their fourth release and I have not heard them before. Mr Hutchinson sent me this after suggesting it could be in the running for album of the year, so high expectations. Essentially a project of the very talented Michal Wojtas, from Kielce in south central Poland, who sings on five of the tracks and plays a number of instruments (guitars, harmonium, keyboards, audio samples, percussions, electronic drums, theremin, low whistle), he also has other invited artists contributing on various tracks. Michal credits Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield as being particular musical influences on him and their inspiration can also be felt throughout.
Now there is something about Polish artists, the beautiful, melancholic melodies they create resonate with me and some people will find obvious comparisons to another very popular Polish act, but that would be to denigrate the talent here. The further into the album the more the music spreads and occupies different genre spaces. At the heart of the album the lyrics deal with trying to retain our individuality against the social media and powers that be, who try to conform us whilst distorting the truth to their own ends.
After giving this a number of listens I don’t think Michal will remain Anonymousfor long as the throbbing pulse of the first track ushers us into his musical world. Pawel Kowalski plays drums on this and most of the tracks on the album, adding to the rising rhythm, with Marta Wojtas filling the sound further on wavedrum as she does on a number of tracks on this album. I’m already hooked as the track mounts to a crescendo with driving guitars and relaxes again in Michal’s vocals to the close.
The incomparable Mariusz Duda lends his delicious vocals to second trackIdyll, ably backed by Konrad Pajek. I make no apologies for waxing lyrical on the magic Mariusz’s vocals bring to this or any tune, as it builds gently in mouthwatering layers and he gilds it to perfection. Guitars weep with joy and rippling keys sing, growing as a field of colourful blooms, resplendent in their gilding.
The echoing keys of Distorted Soulshaunt us gently, with skittering electronic distortion bouncing between the speakers and staccato drum beats jabbering away under the wistful vocals from Michal Wojtas with an earworm of a chorus. We are then caressed by a wonderful theremin passage midway which serves to accentuate the impactful ending of heart torn guitar strings and keys on what is yet another beautiful track.
We are only three tracks into this and I am sold.
The eerily stunning Two Sides, played mostly on the Duduk (an ancient double-reed woodwind flute made of apricot wood, indigenous to Armenia, for you fact lovers) by the gifted Sebastian Wieladek, blows gently through your ears like a warm Scirocco across a moonlit desert as you lay and watch the stars twinkle in an endless sky, the sound echoing away into the distance, leaving you entranced.
The twisting rhythm of Michal Wojtas’ harmonium breathes in and out on Winding Stairs, with sampled noises and Pawel Kowalski’s percussive beats dancing back and forth. Michal’s gentle voice soothes and muted guitar flurries strain in the distance gently pushing to the fore, contesting the harmonium on it’s last breaths.
An aggressive, distorted riff blasts you out of your reverie and tribal beats kick in, the guitar stuttering and lurching in and out, bouncing between speakers. Delicate swathes of keys wash on the pounding rhythms as they resonate In Closenesswith your increased heartbeat whilst Michal Wotja’s whispering vocals hold it all together.
I love emotional guitar solos and Unrealcries to my very soul as Michal Wojtas bends and slides the frets on mournful waves, underpinned by Michal Sciwiarski’s eddying keyboards. Quite simply bliss.
(Picture by Grzegorz Szklarek)
A different voice softly accompanies the keys and synths on Nuke, courtesy of Colin Bass guesting on vocals, harmonising seamlessly with Michal Wojtas. Steadily and subtly building the music expands, widening the sound to arena proportions with another sublime guitar solo slipping in before the end of this, the penultimate track.
The title tune plays us out starting with the lector narration from John England adding a conceptual feel to Hunt. At just under eighteen minutes this could be classed as an epic musical story, with splendid keyboard passages and samples emulating Michal Wojtas’ quoted influences. Once again there are some fine guitar solos that swoop and fly between Michal’s wonderful vocals. John reflects on questions we should be asking and if can we stay true to ourselves avoiding the pitfalls of a virtual world where hidden people covertly hunt out our personal details for their own benefit, before the album is dramatically brought to a close as a crying guitar collides with the sounds of hammered metal.
Those of you who have read any of my past reviews know I often try to string a storyline through an album in an attempt to illustrate the tunes and catch your attention. I can’t with ‘Hunt’as every time I listen I’m drawn in and have trouble concentrating as I become immersed in the glory of it all.
I apologise for not hearing of Michal Wojta before and I don’t want to gush, but Martin asked the question, ‘could this be a contender for album of the year?’ The answer is probably not. No reflection on the album but like myself, I am sure Amarok have not been heard by the majority of people.
So I feel a desperate need to redress this balance with what little influence I have, please listen to this album because if nothing else it is most definitely one of my contenders for album of the year.
Amarok are tremendous, let’s give Michal Wojta the recognition he deserves.