Best Albums of 2017
selected by 23 Polish critics

Franciszek Pospieszalski Sextet <BR>“1st Level”

Franciszek Pospieszalski Sextet
“1st Level”

It was yet another great year for a vibrant jazz collective of Polish musicians studying at Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. Although it wasn’t Franciszek Pospieszalski’s debut that gained the most attention, double bassist’s “1st Level” presents the diversity and creativity of this group to the biggest extent.

Over the eight pieces Pospieszalski’s sextet (it’s fair to think of it as a double trio) gets through post-rockish outbursts, Polish traditional dances, classical music, old-school swing, shouting and contemporary avant-garde. And it’s all effortless, it’s all fun. If this is what they do on the 1st level, I can’t wait to hear the 2nd. (Jan Błaszczak)

♪♫ Listen: “Waltz For Queen” + album stream

Franciszek Pospieszalski Sextet on Facebook.

Blackberry Hill <BR>“If I’d Grow Old With You”

Blackberry Hill
“If I’d Grow Old With You”

“If You’d Grow Old with Me” was released without much fanfare, consequently becoming somewhat overlooked by the media and the audience alike. That’s a pity, because the album contains music of great subtlety and beauty that can really touch people’s hearts.

Blackberry Hill’s sound has not changed much since the previous release “House of Bones“. It contains elements of chamber pop and indie-folk, and can best be described as introspective and lyrical.

While individually the songs may seem a bit understated, the album gradually oozes its ambience, making it impossible not to get lost in their music. (Artur Szarecki)

♪♫ Listen: “If You’d Grow Old With Me” + album stream

Blackberry Hill on Facebook, Bandcamp, www.

Rosa Vertov <BR>“Who Would Have Thought”

Rosa Vertov
“Who Would Have Thought”

Debut album from Warsaw-based female quartet Rosa Vervov, “Who Would Have Thought?” is one of this year’s finest examples that creativity and ingenuity in broadly defined indie rock is not dead yet.

From delicate dream pop a la Galaxie 500 (“No Reason Ever Was Given”, “Fruit Discounts”) through Slint-esque dissonanses and neurosis (“The Ballad of…”, “Time to Waste”) to atmospheric slowcore (“Dreamlike”), it is a kind of variation on the 90s American Underground.

But “Who Would Have Thought” is also a confirmation that Rosa Vertov’s songwriting is simply exceptional. (Jacek Marczuk)

♪♫ Listen: “The Ballad Of…” + album stream

Rosa Vertov on Facebook.

L.Stadt <BR>“L.Story”


Polish band heavily influenced by surf rock and country, returns to its very roots – industrial city of Łódź. Łukasz Lach, a charismatic band leader, the leather jacket type, leaves electric guitars out, and reaches for synths, piano, moog, innocuous sound of before-the-war musical songs and… choir.

For the first time Lach sings in Polish and to help him there is Little Chorea Grand Choir (Wielki Chór Młodej Chorei). “Lstory” is a record about a person passing away and a city fading, and about watching the process helplessly.

Never before L.Stadt sounded so acute, so personal, and so relevant. This is a sad and soothing record at once and no other band could make it. (Jacek Świąder)

♪♫ Listen: “Strumień świadomości” + album stream

L.Stadt on Facebook, www.

1988 <BR>“Gruda”


1988 is a solo project of Przemysław Jankowiak, half of the band Syny, one of the most interesting hiphop acts in Poland. “Gruda” is basically dark instrumental hiphop record.

It somehow reminds me of UK’s Hype Williams with its lo-fi beats, vinyl crackle, dubby atmosphere and minimal synth melodies. It evokes lonely, melancholic views mixed with some something uncanny.

It’s about bus stops, gas stations, 24/7 alcoholic beverage shops, and other non-places in Polish suburbs during cold empty midweek night. (Piotr Kowalczyk)

♪♫ Listen: “Szczecin” + album stream

1988 on Facebook.

Melatony (Hubert Zemler) <BR>“Melatony”

Melatony (Hubert Zemler)

Hubert Zemler is among the most interesting drummers of Poland’s improvised scene. He’s played with Horny Trees, SzaZa, Slalom, Felix Kubin or Piotr Kurek. So far he has recorded three solo albums, exploring percussion in both improvised and avant-garde territory.

“Melatony” seems the most accessible from his solo records but its intriguing form and idea deserve attention. Zemler follows the krautrock trail by creating a delicate musical form in which – apart from the leading pulsation – emerge such ornaments as looped bass, bells, vibraphone or synthesizer streaks.

These 30 minutes of music will definitely not increase the level of melatonin, the sleep hormone. You will rather listen this record all night long. (Jakub Knera)

♪♫ Listen: “Pomorze” + album stream

Hubert Zemler on Bandcamp, Soundcloud.

Coals <BR>“Tamagotchi”


The Silesian duo had started to perform around Europe even before this debut album was released and I’m sure they will tour more now, as “Tamagotchi” clearly proves they have a talent for writing songs. Weird songs? Well, maybe. But in a good way. Intriguing. Unobvious. Complex.

Beautiful melodies break with dirty electronics, dreamy vocals meet rapped ones, stifling climate of modernity mixes with nostalgia – as if they wanted to show us that they could write pop hits easily… but they are not interested in them at all.

Which, of course, should make you interested in Coals even more. (Łukasz Wawro)

♪♫ Listen: “VHS Nightmare ft. Hatti Vatti” + album stream

Coals on Soundcloud, Facebook, Youtube.

Raphael Rogiński <BR>“Plays Henry Purcell”

Raphael Rogiński
“Plays Henry Purcell”

After explorations of jazz and African music on 2015 “Plays John Coltrane and Langston Hughes. African Mystic Music” and Polish folk music on Żywizna’s debut album “Plays Zaświeć Niesiącku and other Kurpian songs” the multi talented guitarist this year delved into his third love – baroque music.

His interpretation of Henry Purcell and Antonio Ferrabosco’s music is as leftfield and unorthodox as his other works. Not only he plays baroque pieces on electric guitar, but also employs Olga Mysłowska and Sebastian Witkowski who play synthesizers on the record.

Mysłowska lends her voice in several pieces, making them even more enchanting and powerful with her haunted, almost ghost-like contralto. (Michał Wieczorek)

♪♫ Listen: “Music for a While” + album stream

Raphael Rogiński on Facebook.

d0m <BR>“estic”


With its blend of dreamy electro-acoustic sounds, d0m is an exciting new project from Bartłomiej “Spaso” Spasowski – a composer, producer and DJ associated with the nu-jazz/hip-hop ensemble Kanał Audytywny.

Blending Spasowski’s glitchy textures and top-knotch production with a deep, hypnotic pulse of Darek Dżugan’s double-bass, and ethereal vocals from Natalia Grosiak, d0m’s sound is mostly quiet and serene.

But the group does not shy away from more orchestral arrangements, giving the music a sense of depth and otherworldly beauty. (Artur Szarecki)

♪♫ Listen: “womb” + album stream

d0m on Facebook, Instagram, www.

Paulina Przybysz <BR>“Chodź tu”

Paulina Przybysz
“Chodź tu”

After sixteen years of activity on the Polish music scene – including a distinguished band Sistars as well as Rita Pax and Pinnawela projects – the younger of the extremely talented singing sisters Przybysz decided to sign the album under her own name.

Twelve personal songs are dressed in clothes inspired by many wardrobes: neosoul, hip-hop, r&b, African and above all omnipresent (though not intrusive) electronics for which are responsible acclaimed music disigners such as Zamilska, Teielte and Night Marks. (Bartek Woynicz)

♪♫ Listen: “Pirx” + album stream

Paulina Przybysz on Facebook, www.

Pablopavo i Ludziki <BR>“Ladinola”

Pablopavo i Ludziki

Not exactly an urban folk, funk, reggae, “sung poetry” or rock record – it rather flows between genres and you can’t help but want to play it again and again.

As with many other Polish song-oriented albums – it’s hard to fully appreciate “Ladinola” without understanding the lyrics and their deep local context (they are brilliant).

Speaking in purely musical terms, here you have some of strongest Pablopavo’s songs to date – like “Zguba”, “Blask” or “Jak człowiek ze snu”. (Piotr Kowalczyk)

♪♫ Listen: “Blask” + album stream

Pablopavo on Facebook, Twitter.

Kaz Bałagane <BR>“Narkopop”

Kaz Bałagane

Warsaw-based rapper and producer Kaz Bałagane is (next projects like Hewra or Mobbyn) one of the most expressive figures of the young Polish rap scene. But before he managed to get the notoriety of the album “Narkopop”, let’s metion his previous releases: “Lot022”, “Radio Gruz”, “Źródło” and “Hugo Bucc 2”, which are also worth noting.

In opposition to mainstream, “Narkopop” is lyrical rapacity, uncompromising storytelling, but also catchiness and spontaneity. In terms of production, “Narkopop” keeps balance between the most current trends in hip-hop and what is on the edge of the music.

With its irony, humor, but also brutal literalness “Narkopop” is the perfect insight into the current state of rap. (Jacek Marczuk)

♪♫ Listen: “Spodenki do ćpania” + album stream

Kaz Bałagane on Facebook.

Jacaszek <BR>“Kwiaty”


You rarely read about living Polish musicians on websites like NPR, but that’s where Michał Jacaszek’s new album was premiered on the threshold of spring last year. Qute in time – “Kwiaty” means “Flowers”.

Jacaszek’s sixth work has been inspired by “an English anthology of metaphysical poetry from the 17th century” written by Robert Herrick and dedicated to “death, pain, longing and loneliness”, as the composer and producer explained.

But he hoped that with a mix of classical sounds (piano, strings, guitar), ambient electronics and a little help from several guest vocalists he’d manage to bring some colours to this murky landscape. Indeed, the album does deserve its title. (Mariusz Herma)

♪♫ Listen: “Daffodils” + album stream

Jacaszek on Soundcloud, www.

Trupa Trupa <BR>“Jolly New Songs”

Trupa Trupa
“Jolly New Songs”

Trupa Trupa’s songs are anything but jolly. Gdańsk based rock band has made a name for themselves playing dark and atmospheric songs dominated by the themes of death, passing and anxiety. It’s not all doom and gloom though, there’s some dark humor thrown into the mix too.

Extremely hardworking and focused, these guys have a very thoughtful and well planned approach to their music. The follow up to their breakthrough album “Headache” (2015) is a collection of tight and elegant songs infused with 60s psychodelia, post-rock and mood-setting repetitiveness. (Halina Jasonek)

♪♫ Listen: “Coffin” + album stream

Trupa Trupa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Kurws <BR>“Alarm”


The paradox of The Kurws is simultaneously edgy sense of humor, technical conciousness and probably the most radical political reflection on Polish independent scene expressed by minimum words.

Is “Alarm” in the broader sense a warning about all this situations when civil society don’t recognize violence hidden in the system that distributes power? At least references to the case of Oury Jalloh and Leni Riefenstahl’s documentary (song titled “Triumph of the Unwill” instead of “Triumph of the Will” with recording of male voice instructing how to hunt…) suggest this trope.

But even without erudite show off The Kurws create immaculately an atmosphere of lurking danger, restlessness, and temptation. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”? Highly recommended if you don’t mind some Butthole Surfers, free form jazz, and paranoic Marxist readings in weird places. (Andżelika Kaczorowska)

♪♫ Listen: “Triumph of the unwill” + album stream

Kurws on Facebook, Soundcloud, www.

Zimpel / Ziołek <BR>“Zimpel/Ziołek”

Zimpel / Ziołek

Released by Instant Classic label, this album is a result of cooperation of two leaders of Polish underground scene. Their musical orgins (Zimpel – experimental jazz with the Far Eastern influences, Ziołek – guitar psychodelic and alternative folk) smoothly combine into consistent and original form.

The four tracks (lasting together 40 minutes) are a bit like a musical arm wrestling – sometimes Ziołek, with acoustic guitar and vocals, seems to be in the front, somethimes in the foreground is Zimpel and his clarnet’s solos and repetited melodic lines.

But the final result is a draw, in which both of them win – as well as the listeners. (Michał Klimko)

♪♫ Listen: “Memory Dome” + album stream

Wacław Zimpel on Bandcamp, Facebook. Ziołek on Facebook.

Lotto <BR>“VV”


New release from the band who was the winner of beehype list for Poland in 2016. “It is a great album” again… But definitely much more radical and raw than its predecessor “Elite Feline”.

Lotto incessantly keep pushing the boundaries and discovering new aesthetic territories for their music. And each of the trio’s members – Łukasz Rychlicki (electric guitars & noisy textures), Mike Majkowski (double bass & ascetic pulsations) and Paweł Szpura (strong percussion) – intensively modify the sound of their instruments.

Using effects, dense textures, and rigorous repetitions, together they make impressive, trancy and deeply psychedelic music. (Bartosz Nowicki)

♪♫ Listen: “Heel” + album stream

Lotto on Facebook.

Kobieta z wydm <BR>“Bental”

Kobieta z wydm

Despite starting up a new band Błażej Król (Król, UL/KR) remains highly expressional, bit old-fashioned pop-poet. Yet again his twisted lyrics might be hard to follow, but they never fail to ensure full emotional involvement.

Composition-wise Kobieta z wydm offers stripped down, rhythm driven pop with subtle, Stereolabesque smartness and occasional signs of band soft spot for experiment.

Both lyrics and repetitive structures of the verses build up nearly erotic tension that can be released only in powerful choruses. Which actually makes sense as they are catchy as fuck. (Jan Błaszczak)

♪♫ Listen: “A co jeśli” + album stream

Kobieta z wydm on Facebook.

Jakub Lemiszewski <BR>“2017 [nielegal]”

Jakub Lemiszewski
“2017 [nielegal]”

Impressive redefinitions of footwork / juke music. Lemiszewski’s “2017 [Nielegal]” is probably the most progressive and frantic dance electronic release of the last year in Poland.

A frame of Lemiszewski’s abstract music are speedy (160 BPM), ultra dynamic repetitions and polyrhythmic percussion structures accompanied by weird melodics. Their dirty overdriven sound is borrowed directly from Lemiszewski’s garage side bands – Złota Jesień and Sierść.

Together with other Polish labels and producers (like Polish Juke crew, Outlines Label, or Rhythm Baboon, who took 18th place on beehype list last year), Lemiszewski makes one of the most unique and individual footwork / juke in the worldwide scene. (Bartosz Nowicki)

♪♫ Listen: “PNTNFTWRK” + album stream

Jakub Lemiszewski on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

Lutto Lento <BR>“Dark Secret World”

Lutto Lento
“Dark Secret World”

Lubomir Grzelak is surely not afraid of experimentation. On his debut album he’s mesmerized by bizarre cultures and variety of low-quality Jamaican dancehall b-sides.

With his long-awaited full length debut – which has defined him afresh – Warsaw-based producer has shown more uncanny approach. He bravely disclaimed his previous, mostly weirdo-house’y style and moved towards eclecticism and intrigue.

He’s wrapping us up with mysterious tentacles, giving us an unobvious trip, where horror and weirdness is happening constantly. One of the biggest Dark Secret World’s advantages is complete lack of categorization.

Everything’s immersed in voodoo-like atmosphere and beautifully disturbing sounds. You know, like a bad acid trip, when you’re scared shitless but still moving along. It’s a horror, and it’s a wonder. (Lech Podhalicz)

♪♫ Listen: “Gyal a Devil” + album stream

Lutto Lento on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Hańba! <BR>“Będą bić”

“Będą bić”

On paper Kraków’s Hańba may seem a little unapproachable: a street band from Poland’s interwar period. There’s dress-up, old-time instruments (banjo, accordion, tuba, clarinet) and of course politically and socially charged lyrics in Polish. Hańba! on

“Będą bić” (“There’s going to be fighting”) is set in 1937, the world seems uneasy and all the signs say war is brewing. But it’s not a history lesson and you don’t need to understand Polish to be mesmerized by the sincerity and intensity of Hańba’s songs.

These four skilled musicians breathe rebellious punk energy into these tales from the past. Even though their songs tell stories of a very particular period of Polish history, they’re still dangerously up-to-date. Oh, and seeing Hańba live is a glorious experience. (Halina Jasonek)

♪♫ Listen: “Piosenka młodych faszystów” + album stream

Hańba! on Facebook.

Maniucha i Ksawery <BR>“Oj borom, borom”

Maniucha i Ksawery
“Oj borom, borom”

There are at least two reasons why the duo of Maniucha Bikont and Ksawery Wójciński are part of beehype’s upcoming first ever festival stage at MENT Festival in Slovenia.

First, they are doing something nobody has done before – they fuse traditional folk songs from Ukraine with jazz/avant improvisation on double bass. Try to find a better example of how to “update” traditional music to the 21st century but keep its essence intact.

The second reason is that beehype contributors from around the world loved Maniucha i Ksawery so much that we found ourselves completely helpless to judge what kind of (local) music can have an international appeal.

In other words, they are local and global at the same time, which happens to be exactly what we’ve been looking for at here at beehype for the last few years. (Mariusz Herma)

♪♫ Listen: “Oj borom borom” + album stream

Maniucha i Ksawery on Soundcloud, Youtube, Facebook.

Sorja Morja <BR>“Sorja”

Sorja Morja

There are only few bands playing such catchy, vibey and gentle songs as Sorja Morja on their full-length debut.

On “Sorja” Ewa Sadowska and Szymon Lechowicz created unpretentious picture of nostalgic, inevitably runaway youth, while using simple melodies and seemingly banal – yet poetic – lyrics. It’s tremendous cruelty that listeners are left just after 25 minutes with hunger of more Sorja’s tracks. Guys, how dare you cutting off such beautiful melodies so quickly!?

No doubt – this longplay has its triumphant power in lyrics. Look up the words of such amazing songs like “Młodość”, “Australia” and “Śmierć”. Instant classics and pure joy. Learn them by heart, tattoo them on ankles or above your elbows and quote them in love letters. Trying to find such delicious, ambitious pop is like shooting in the dark. Period. (Lech Podhalicz)

♪♫ Listen: “Śmierć” + album stream

Sorja Morja on Facebook.

Hatti Vatti <BR>“Szum”

Hatti Vatti

Experiment, retro-futurism, sampling, analogue sounds – all of that might suggest a snobbish, sectarian material. But “Szum” isn’t anything of that kind.

Hatti Vatti use archival recordings simply following their most human sentiments, and their characteristing approach lets them create soft, pleasant music that disarms any need to analyze and segregate what you hear.

Machines get souls, a cold museum of old technology turns into a familiar, cozy place you won’t want to leave. (Marcin Flint)

♪♫ Listen: “Hero/in” + album stream

Hatti Vatti on Facebook, Soundcloud.

EABS <BR>“Repetitions (Letters to Komeda)”

“Repetitions (Letters to Komeda)”

At the beginning Electro Acoustic Beat Sessions was just the name for a series of music jams leaning on classic hip-hop sounds that have happened at Puzzle club in Wrocław.

As time went by, 7 impovising friends from this casual group turned into a regular band. Their debut album brings very modern, fresh and unique way of reinterpretation of lesser-known works of Polish jazz legend Krzysztof Komeda.

EABS, under the command of the pianist, composer and vocalist Marek Pędziwiatr, showed how to inject elements of soul, funk, hip-hop or electronics into musical tradition, doing it with all due respect. (Bartek Woynicz)

♪♫ Listen: “Repetitions” + album stream

EABS on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, www.

Piernikowski <BR>“No Fun”

“No Fun”

On the first sight, Robert Piernikowski (rapping half of avant-hiphop duo Syny) seems to be an exemplary representative of “squatting slavs” attitude – one of these guys from gloomy neighboorhoods, saving money for a Nike hoodie and complaining about Starbucks prices. But don’t be fooled – on his solo album “No Fun” he’s more like a keen observer.

With dark beats influenced by ‘80s cold wave in the background, Piernikowski weaves his stories about boredom (like in one of the most important singles this year – “Trwamy”), worries about the aged staying alone in his flat, and paints some necro-poetic images with his rough flow. Uncomfortable, unnerving and hypnotic – but still fun. (Michał Klimko)

♪♫ Listen: “Trwamy” + album stream

Piernikowski on Facebook.

Jazz Band Młynarski-Masecki <BR>“Noc w wielkim mieście”

Jazz Band Młynarski-Masecki
“Noc w wielkim mieście”

Great Polish Songbook. Warsaw in times of prewar orchestras, famous bandleaders and composers, mostly of Jewish origin, who during and after the war were developing the American rather than Polish musical tradition.

This new septet founded by acclaimed pianist and arranger Marcin Masecki and drummer (here as a singer in Adam Aston’s style) Jan Młynarski is a dream come true.

A dream about the city, where the tradition’s not cut by war and the songs evolve and grow into more complex jazz arrangements. Where sophistication couples with strong musical craftmanship born out of nightlife of the prewar era Polish capital. (Bartek Chaciński)

♪♫ Listen: “Abduł Bey” + album stream

Jazz Band Młynarski-Masecki on Facebook.

BNNT <BR>“Multiverse”


I would argue that until “Multiverse” arrived, BNNT was mainly a live band. Not only because of duo’s ferocious performances, but also as a result of Konrad Smoleński and Daniel Szwed’s constant exploration of new aesthetics, ideas and ways of communicating. BNNT was a stream, not a shape. More an approach than a thought.

It all should change now as their new album is way too impressive not to be considered as the artefact, complete piece of art or reference point. Rooted deeply in performance and art-punk scenes Smoleński and Szwed may still insist on calling BNNT an art group, instead of a band. However I can’t help but listen to “Multiverse” just for the sake of pure, not contextualized sound.

Am I feeling guilty? Well, when you’re recording such mesmerizing piece of music, you’re the one to blame. (Jan Błaszczak)

♪♫ Listen: “The Last Illiterate” f. Mats Gustafsson + album stream

BNNT on Facebook.

Nagrobki <BR>“Granit”


Art school graduates playing post-punk tunes with death-themed lyrics have invited some friends from jazz/free-improv scene to join them on their new album called “Granit”.

Sounds pretty much like a recipe for disaster? You’ve got not only one of the best but also one of the most original Polish albums of 2017 instead.

The songs are quite simple and catchy but all those brass add-ons bring out some eerie atmosphere that goes along well with lyrics that make you wonder: are they serious with all this nihilism or is it vicious cabaret? Maybe both? (Jarek Szubrycht)

♪♫ Listen: “Rabacja” + album stream

Nagrobki on Facebook, Bandcamp.

Stefan Wesołowski <BR>“Rite of the End”

Stefan Wesołowski
“Rite of the End”

Violinist and composer Stefan Wesołowski has been involved in church music and composed music for film and theater. Since recording the album “Treny” in 2008 with Michał Jacaszek, he has been successively combining post-classical sounds with electronics, which could be heard first on the 2013 album “Libestood”.

His new record “Rite of the End” refers to rituals as well as to minimalism. Wesołowski seems to like how repetitions develop, so that he can draw out beauty and non-obviousness from his dark music. Inspirations taken from Strawiński or Pärt get him close to film music, especially when string instruments mix with electronics or enter the techno sphere as in “Rex, Rex!”.

Wesołowski spins his serious tone, in which beauty intertwines with putridity, nature with technology, classic with modernity – until finally everything splashes in the depths of electronic noise as in “Hoarfrost II”. With its unforgettable aura, it’s Wesołowski’s most suggestive album and a showcase of his composing talents, ingenuity and his original musical language. (Jakub Knera)

♪♫ Listen: “Rex, Rex!” + album stream

Stefan Wesołowski on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook.