Traces - RemixesReleased 31/05/2019
Warsaw-based cellist Resina follows up last year’s brilliant ‘Traces’ album with a new EP featuring one of its standout tracks, ‘Trigger’, plus a set of remixes from four of her favourite artists: Ben Frost, Lotic, Abul Mogard and 130701 labelmate, Ian William Craig. Released both digitally and as a limited edition, full artwork vinyl EP, ‘Traces - Remixes’ reprises the album and throws further light on the circles within which the Polish artist’s work might be framed. Across its 30-minute duration, it opens out a broad and immersive spectrum - from visceral, live instrumental looping to deep, drone-based immersion and sharp, rhythmic deconstruction.
Recorded in Warsaw’s Wola district, an area devastated during the last war, being the site of both the Jewish ghetto and Warsaw Uprising, ‘Traces’ drew upon certain dark and timely themes and finds grounding in the worryingly unstable era in which we find ourselves today. Alongside fears of the belief that we are too rational to repeat the past, its title refers to the observing of memories; to remnants surviving violence or the ravages of time; to parts missing or disfigured. This remix EP now fittingly sees her own album subject to similar processes of decay and deformation.
Opening the EP, ‘Trigger’ - a standout track from live shows – offers a strong taster of the album it comes from. A forceful, full-blooded track it builds a tense urgency through layering loops of bow-hits and dive-bombing string slurs, before resolving with a synth melody and staccato string stabs locked in progression.
Ben Frost (whose score for Amazon TV series 'Fortitude’ Karolina played on) turns in a powerful reworking of ‘In In’. Isolating snatches of drumming from the original track, Frost redeploys them in a nagging, stop-start structure that shifts continually, flushed through with washes of processed vocal, chimes and synth texture.
Vancouver-based label-mate Ian William Craig jettisons the beat entirely and teases out the emotion in a sumptuous reworking of album opener ‘In’, his customised reel-to-reel tape machines accreting layers of looped cello and his own vocal melodies. Swelling and decaying with the introduction of manual tape artefacts (slurred pitch, the clunk of pressed buttons), the track ends in a spiraling tremolo shimmer.
Changing gear, Berlin-based Lotic’s remix of ‘In In’ serves up a stunning 4-minute hit of offset rhythmic tracery, warped vocal smearing and moody synth undertow. As good as anything on last year’s acclaimed ‘Power’ album, it's a classy, if somewhat wonky dose of sampladelic deconstruction.
In stark contrast, Serbian ambient master Abul Mogard neatly winds down the record on his 11-minute long remix of ‘Trigger’, a long, slow but tightly focused build of glowering, shimmering ambient tension that eventually breaks in a series of euphoric waves.
The EP’s cover features another of Karolina's photographs of often decayed / vandalised religious iconography. The female hand clutching broken arrows is a detail from an 18th Century statue in one of Warsaw’s Old Town churches. Titled 'Our lady called Gracious breaking the thunderbolts of God’s wrath', the statue miraculously survived the Second World War and nicely reflects the idea that there is something stronger that wrath, that can stop it, and that it’s feminine. Karolina notes how “unexpectedly it became a symbol of resistance for me.”
‘Traces - Remixes’ is a hugely impressive, diverse and high-quality set. Offering some insights to the cellist’s own sensibility and pointing back to last year’s ‘Traces’ album, the EP also serves as a wonderful standalone release.