Review: Oranżada ‘Karma Tango’

Way back in the late 60s and throughout the 70s, the Polish music scene was dominated by four much loved rock bands: the celebrated SBB (Silesian Blues Band), prog rockers Budka Suflera, the world-renowned late psych rock singer-songwriter Niemen, and folk gem Czerwony Gitary (Red Guitars), much loved by students for their political satire. In the years that followed, the Polish independent music scene has been thriving with a myriad of bands full of desire to play and express themselves through numerous music genres from punk, post-punk, art rock, hardcore, experimental prog metal and psych acid folk, with bands such as Manaam, Mech, Kult, Dezerter, Republika and Brygada Kryzys, just to mention a few.

Oranżada ‘Karma Tango’

The birth of Spotify and Bandcamp gave a new lease of life to artists promoting their music, allowing music lovers to discover more of what was coming from every corner of the world. My aim was to get deeper into the Polish underground psych rock scene which, more than ever, was populated with interesting artists and bands such as The Fake, More Experience, A.J. Kaufman, Fairyport Convent, and of course the eclectic psych alt rock 4 piece, Oranżada (Orangeade).

The band from Otwock, a town a few miles from Warsaw, was formed in 2001 by four friends whose love for music was innate. As much as their musical tastes sometimes differed, they have always known how to incorporate them into their meticulously built sound while growing musically together, creating their own genre that smells of psych rock nostalgia and an amalgamation of experimental kraut rock with alt and psych affinities. Although their music at times can be pigeonholed, their sound is very creative and quite personal.

Leaving their rock music aside, members of Oranżada let themselves explore a more deep, experimental, cinematic and ambient music, composing soundtracks for films and visual arts. Music scores like Szalony Paź (Crazy October), Hipnoza (Hypnosis) or 17th Of September are an example of pure avant-garde, reaching compositional levels ala John Cage and Polish maestro Penderecki. Their musical intuition swings from one extreme to another, showing how every band member is open to various divergences made of intuitive improvisation reaching even operetta, theatrical experimental visceral prog jazz climaxes which can be heard on Drzewa w Sadzie Zdzik​ł​y (The Trees In The Orchard Went Wild).

Stylistically eclectic, atmospheric and superbly tantalising…

The four members; Robert Derlatka, Maciej Łabudzki, Michał Krysztofiak, and Artur Rzempołuch are the perfect masters of music creativity. The krautrockian eclecticism released on their 2005 Self-Titled album and their 2010 Samsara is distilled and exceeds all limits of creativity in such a way that satiates every musical palate for those who listen to it. Their new album Karma Tango is the band’s first release in a decade and it’s out to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their artistic life as a band. It was recorded at The Boogie Town Studio in Otwock during two long recording sessions in June 2021 and March 2022. It’s truly their labour of love, born on a climate of world anxiety through Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. As the band explains, Karma Tango is an album about the shuffling reality that shrouds our reality, about the endless tango of the same mornings and days, punctuated only by dreams. The tensions between fading spirituality, a sense of loss of purpose.

The ten songs contained in their new work encompass various musical elements that boast an exploratory drive close to their ‘70s Polish rock roots. The opener Ty, Ja, On I My (You, Me, Him and Us) is a strong post-punk art rock psych attack with an ‘80s flavour, as does the pressingly heavy psych of Totalizator which, in the middle, strikes some notes of Hendrix’s classic 3rd Stone From The Sun, while Get Your Head Around Busy is psych space rock interspersed with experimental touches.

The magical moment of the whole album comes with the folk rock tune of My 1000 where Rzempołuch‘s syncopated drumming and the sweet flying flute notes delivered by Helena Perek reaches superb sonority. Perek‘s contribution doesn’t stop here as her flute playing, reminiscent of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson golden days, it flows harmoniously throughout almost the entire album.

Take the masterpiece 4 Horsemen (no relation to the Aphrodite’s Child song from their 1972 classic 666), it is so musically and beautifully constructed, it engages you so much, it transports your mind through endless dreamlike paths. And of course, you can’t say otherwise about the sweet and mellow Here And Now, and even more so the beautiful and rousing classic ballad Tyle Dróg (So Many Roads). Stylistically eclectic, atmospheric and superbly tantalising. The celestial voice of Emily Bones (front woman of Otwock alt rock band Tekla Goldman) will blow your mind leaving you speechless.

Oranżada’s Karma Tango will overwhelm you with its grandeur and persuasive elegance that only a few groups today can deliver. Na zdrowie! (Cheers!).

Label: Audio Cave Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Caccamo