But I’m Not – Daemon Trances I-VI

[Reviewed by: stark]

Although the term PTSD itself first appeared at the turn of the 70’s and 80’s in scientific publications, this ailment has always accompanied mankind. Whether you are a soldier watching the horrors of war or a child abused by a parent, you are just as vulnerable to past events of extreme stress and anxiety that can lead to depression, self-harm or suicide. Everyone struggles (or at least tries to) in their own way with PTSD – Paweł Grabowski chooses a creative way. The musician exorcises his demons through music and at the same time lets them into your house. I don’t know what’s the source of the musician’s trauma, but by listening to this very plastic music and interpreting individual sounds, you can try to fill the gaps by yourself. Yet it would only be but a guesswork and in fact it’s not the most important thing at this point. Especially if it’s an effective therapy and we, the listeners, can use it as well.

But I’m Not is a new name, but the musician behind it, Paweł Grabowski (not to be confused with Paweł Grabowski from ojeRum) has many years of experience on the musical field. He’s known for the Miasto Nie Spało project, which over two decades ago has released one of the most important records of the Polish underground avant-garde, “Pieśni Żałobne”. Unfortunately, the project broke up quickly, Grabowski recorded some materials under his own name and fell into a creative stupor as well. Today he’s back with “Daemon Trances I-VI” released on his own label Silence Is Not Empty.

Daemon Trance is how the musician calls the state of the deepest fear and anxiety forced by traumatic events. A few enigmatic words on the digipack are enough, we don’t need to know more. Although the album starts with a slightly Middle Eastern sounding theme, for the most part the album is detached from any associations about a specific time or place, it’s like suspended in space, but at the same time very claustrophobic. The material is often based on dark murmurs and rustles, single sounds (like piano) bouncing from wall to wall. The role of silence, which the musician skillfully manipulates, is also significant. There is a specific dose of horror here, not only the down-to-earth and tangible one. I honestly admit that if I didn’t know the concept of the album, I’d bet a lot of money that, say, “Daemon Trance III” was taken from the haunted house horror soundtrack. Haunted by ghosts, not pathology. Sometimes I notice the echoes of the darker Nocturnal Emissions’ works, sometimes the classic dark ambient from the last decade of the 20th century, and there’s also some space for a moment of rest, such as the beautiful “Daemon Trance V” which I associate with Scandinavian glacial electronics. Or maybe it is a journey to the land of sleep, a haven of relief?

It is a very interesting album both in a purely musical context and its concept, which, whether we like it or not, forces the interpretation of individual fragments. However, it is worth facing these demons, it is quite a purifying experience.

But I’m Not – Daemon Trances I-VI
Silence Is Not Empty, SINE001
CD/Digital 2021

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