In 1998 multi-instrumentalist Marek Styczynski and singer Anna Nacher started a new project, named Projekt Karpaty Magiczne. The group released the debut album Ethnocore (Fly Music, 1999), the soundtrack to a play, Ksiega Utopii/ The Book Of Utopia (Obuh, 1999) and Denega (Obuh, 2000), a recording based on samples of Baltic seals and other marine sounds. The Magic Carpathians Project, as it was renamed for western audiences, plays an ambient, cosmic, jazz version of Atman's pan-ethnic music.
While maintaining the same ambient/orchestral approach towards ethnic sources, Ethnocore II: Nytu (Drunken Fish, 2001) leans towards the Indian raga (India Mal, India Mata) and Buddhist chanting (Nytu, Denega). The album is dedicated to "nytu", an ancient vocal technique of the Carpathians which is Nacher's main tool. But Tibetan and Indian harmonies permeate the entire work and in the end the album sounds much more Asiatic than European.
Compositions are often immersed in a forest of woodwinds, while samples of Tibetan voices augment the eerie atmosphere. An arsenal of didjeridu, dulcimer, synthesizer, violin, clarinet, sitar and percussions attacks the woodwinds and the voices from all directions and turns each track into the musical equivalent of boiling magma. Compared with Atman, the new project is more "artificial", ponderous, brainy. Where Atman was a spontaneous joy of world sounds, PKM is an intellectual's view of popular music, a scientist's vivisection of alien organisms. Something is lost in the process, just like so much of modern ethnic/ambient/dance music loses not only the spirit but also the artistic value of the originals.
The duo triumphs when the sheer number of sonic events overwhelms the listener, as in Lluru, or when the improvisation and the concept border on free-jazz, as in Transcarpathians.
Western music has trodden down this path before, when German musicians like Stephen Micus and Georg Deuter explored and assimilated Indian culture. It is not a coincidence that the experimental mini-sonatas Radical Acoustic and Atropa Belladonna Cries recall Micus and Deuter's experiments of the 1970's and 1980's.
Magiczne Karpaty homepage
Download the song �Transcarpathians� from the album �Ethnocore 2: Nytu� (Drunken Fish Records)