“The Magic Carpathians Project has been active since 1998, established by Anna Nacher and Marek Styczyński (who previously had been a leader Theatre of Sound ATMAN). Influenced by musical traditions of Eastern and Central Europe (most notably the multicultural region of Carpathians mountains, spanning through Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia), free jazz, the philosophy of sound of classical Indian music and contemporary classic the duo creates compositions based on improvisation using plethora of traditional instruments from Asia, Europa and Australia.” [via official website]
How would you summarize this past year on an artistic and personal level?
It’s been a very interesting and fulfilling year because of the several concerts we played this year with contribution from the people we really appreciate and under the auspicious conditions. We have also started another recording session which still has yet to be complete but the overall outcome so far is very satisfying so we’re looking forward to give it some finishing touch and make it ready to go out into the world.
On personal level though it’s been a tough year to me (M.S.) due to the fact that my father has passed out in February. Yet on the other hand the year has been really remarkable: in 2014 we have purchased a bit of land in Slovakian village, in Pieniny – it is a marvelous area and the whole thing is a dream come true on many levels: spiritual, emotional, well-being etc. This is how we started developing our own cultural center of sorts – we named it Biotop Lechnica and in some aspects it draws upon the 10-year long experience with running independent gallery in Nowy Sącz some time ago, late 90. and early 10., before we moved out to Kraków. We don’t want to leave the city for good (at least not yet) so mostly we live commuting between our farm in Lechnica and Kraków (and yes, we’ve never had a private car and haven’t considered getting it).
Which album have you listened to most often this year (not necessarily released in 2014)?
Usually we listen to lots of different music, really different – it might be the field recordings from Romanian Carpathians, more albums with joik-inspired Sami music (another generation of young musicians is in unconventional dialogue with tradition), Ravi Shankar (who has passed away in 2014), Lou Reed (another unforgettable person who is no longer with us), Shostakovich (especially cello concertos with Misha Maisky), lots of Sibelius, Robert Ashley (brilliant composer of contemporary opera who again passed away in 2014 which apparently has been disastrous for music). Absolutely essential is the experimental side of Czesław Niemen – a few albums that he has recorded in 70s is absolutely stunning and this is a great pity that most of the audience hasn’t even heard those. This year we somehow started really appreciating some of the krautrock stuff: both old and new (common favorites are Faust, Can, Ash Ra Tempel, Popol Vuh but we really like one of the most underappreciated albums in this vein: an album by Harmonia recorded in 1974 or 2). Usually we buy a lot of music while travelling – we’re probably the last people on this planet who still pay care to their CDs collection (apart from shelves full of vinyls) – this is how we discovered a brilliant Austrian quartet called Quadratsch. Their appoach to so called „traditional” folk music is really fresh and inspiring.
What was the best gig you’ve attended?
We don’t really go to the concerts much; surprisingly as it sounds we’ve had such a lot of music during our lifetimes that somehow we ran out of the willingness to get exposed for more – especially when the whole experience doesn’t really allow for focusing on music itself. We’re picky 🙂 Anyway, there were some shows that really stayed with us much longer: Glenn Branca’s show at the festival in Lublin 2 years ago was really the remarkable experience although it was back in 2013, the beginning of 2014 had us in Berlin where Sunn O))) performed at CTM (only those who have ever attended any of their shows can really understand what we mean saying that it’s been unforgettable event). Another two highlights of the year were John Cale with his Drone Orchestra in London and Laurie Anderson with Kronos Quartet in Kraków. Another batch of interesting shows are those where we sometimes accidentally attend while being a part of the event: in this way we had a chance to listen to really great music by different projects at different venues (starting with Tundra through brilliant Spires That in the Sunset Rise to Job Karma at the last Wrocław Industrial Festival)
What was the best non-music related cultural experience you’ve had?
Plenty in the field of visual arts and media art. In 2013 we’ve been to Venice Art Biennale which was the immense, intensive experience: and we have to mention this even is this is not 2014 3 days in a row of almost 8-9 hours a day spent experiencing art. of different mediums, kinds and approaches. This is really a life-changing experince of sorts. Especially Ai WeiWei exhibitions at several places had significant influence on us but there has been a lot more: Slovenian pavilion, Taiwanese video art, Central Asian pavilion prepared in cooperation with Norwegian foundation. Another unforgettable experience of this kind was visiting Center of Contemporary Art in Ljubljana where Triennale was held the same year – a lot of interesting projects and inspiring art as well. No wonder that when we heard about the performance of Marina Abramović at Serpentine Gallery in London we have immediately purchased the flight tickets and never were sorry. Taking part in her action „512 hours” has been really something – once you encounter such a thing, the whole criticism she faces at the moment from various circles seems absolutely irrelevant. We have also seen Digital Revolution at Barbican Center in London which was really inspiring event as well. The last event of 2014 was a big exhibition of media art at Akademie der Kunst in Berlin, Schwindel der Wirklichkeit which was almost too much to digest at one visit. AN: to me also the Bill Viola’s exhibition in Paris was something I will be remember for a long time – probably the most extensive one of this artist so far. In 2014 Ars Electronica in Linz had also an extremely interesting part called Buddha at the Beach where Taiwanese media art has been presented. I must say that some artworks have been really remarkable, especially the beautiful video installation by Hsien Chien Shie. I’ve been also involved with Ars Independent in Katowice and I must say it’s a young but very interesting film festival with a special section devoted to independent video games which is a great idea.
On another note, MS is involved with the whole new track of his ethnobotanic workshops and the success of this event took us by surprise: workshops, cooperation with Bunkier Sztuki w Krakowie, MS books on the subject, his blog http://etnobotanicznie.pl – all of it is a clear sign of the growing interest in all plant-related matters.
Was there an event within this past year that has significantly influenced your philosophy and outlook on life, or your perception of the world around you? For instance some specific place you visited, people you met and so on?
Well, it should be obvious by now: the fact of establishing our Biotop Lechnica.
What was your greatest disappointment in 2014?
Nothing, really. None. Not whatsoever.
Your plans, hopes and expectations for 2015?
We hope to complete our recording studio session – the first one within the last 5 years. Also, other plans are linked to Biotop Lechnica – to be able to let it grow in organic way. In the village inhabited by 200 people one has to be careful about any activities to not disturb both the humans and non-humans alike. We still learn this place so any plans will evolve accordingly. And as usual we do hope that all beings will be free from suffering and from the cause of suffering. No expectations, though.