Just as the pandemic produced a ripple effect across the music industry, the war in Ukraine is having an effect today. Bartosz Dziadosz‘ Peace is the latest album to address the war, albeit obliquely, offering a feeling of calm. Dziadosz spent the first invasion year traveling around Poland, writing in various locations as the war was waged just across the border.
The wordless vocals of the opening “GABI” are like a requiem, a layering of voices producing the effect of a small choir. At the very end, only piano plays, as if everything else has been destroyed. Synthetic strings, bass and electronics color “August,” a more sprightly piece, even hopeful, mimicking the unprecedented spirit of Ukraine’s unbowed populace.
The bells of “The Infinite Bridge” are particularly bright, a vision of tensions past, homes rebuilt, a tentative dance. Later on, Sven Laux’s remix will de-emphasize the bells, amplifying the ambience. “Spring” is symphonic and similarly upbeat, seemingly disconnected from the news. While some may consider the tone too positive, even unrealistic, it serves as a gift to the afflicted, a temporary escape, a reverie. The closing minutes of “Spring” soar into the stratosphere, inviting listeners to dream. “You” offers the solace of gently crashing waves. “Supernova” travels off earth, pursuing perspective; brass timbres and 80s synth create a classic sci-fi sheen.
The entire album builds to “Breath” and “Peace,” the former unveiling the return of choral vox, exuding a church-like joy. The final impression (not counting the two remixes) is an offering of peace, as in the blessing, “Peace be with you / and also with you.” Dziadosz may be saddened; he may be disillusioned; he may be angry about the situation in Ukraine; but if so, he puts it all aside here, as if to say, Keep keeping on. (Richard Allen)