Friday, 2 April 2021

The Best Polish Musicians

 Over 20 years or so I had collected several thousand Polish music tracks, which I have now reduced to 761 that are suitable for my general listening. This lists the artists with the highest number of tracks.

Apart from CDs, I found a large resource of apparently legal self publishing and downloading music. These included (now 140 tracks, which closed while I was still going through it), Last FM (203 tracks, from when it was largely a download site), Metalpromo (not really my taste) plus the music publisher Jimmy Jazz (33 tracks, which is very impressive for a punk and related taste portfolio.) With other individual sites there are at least 490 such free tracks.

First with 28 tracks is Mell O'Deque. To be fair to all the others, this reflects the number of items he uploaded, but I am much attached to them. The music is a wide range of electronic styles, particularly melodic and dance. His name was sufficiently Irish sounding that it took me a long time to get the "melody" connection. Some of the music is from computer games. He is sufficiently unknown to be absent from Wiki Poland, but he can be found by internet search.

Second is Coma, an excellent world quality hard rock band with my 17 tracks of their music coming from 2004 to 2006. Their Polish language may limit interest to foreigners.

Also second, Normalsi: also 17 rock tracks from 2000 and 2006

Fourth is another world class hard rock group: Hunter, with 15 songs from 1995 to 2009 (maybe). They have a significant English language repertoire. One of the tracks comes from the type of concert that any star would love, where the audience takes the lead with the singing and the band just supporting.

Fifth is Budka Suflera, whose 15 tracks from 1992 to 1999 were major pop favourites. They had particularly good accompanying videos. (Not from the internet.)

Sixth: Buldog from 2006, with 13 tracks. I labeled them rock, but they have diverse styles. Important in the group was Kazik who for some time seemed the most inventive popular musician in Poland, although much of his music (especially lyrics) are now outdated. I have 8 other tracks by or including him.

Seventh is sPeeX with 12 tracks, which I labeled dance, but it's basically very upbeat electronic. Language is largely sampled English excerpts: I am sure"Steve speaks" comes in somewhere. Once again virtually unknown, but you can find downloads at

Eighth, Komety with 11 tracks from 2009 onwards. Pleasant band pop music.

Also eighth with 11, Holdcut. Checking quickly on the web, this is the most obscure of all the artists. It may be the nickname for an individual musician. The music might be best described as progressive electronic dance. (English language samples).

Tenth brings Incrowd from 1994/95. 10 tracks of roisterous, good rocking, guitar focused music, much in English (eg Santa Sucks). One of the members was Sydney Polak, from whose website I got this, along with 10 other tracks involving him that are still in my collection.

Last and eleventh, but still with 10 tracks are Paprika Corps, a rapping reggae band. Much of Polish reggae seems very derivative of British pop some years ago, but this is refreshingly different. Music from 1999 to 2004.

Although the tags are not very meaningful, the main genres covered in the collection are Rock (338), Pop (184), Electronic (86), Dance (65), Rap (38), Reggae (29). One of the problems I have with Polish Pop, in particular, are the common singing styles ranging from a low key melodic chant to a basic one octave vocal with an occasional jump to the next octave for the emotional impact. I doubt if many people here would notice it and it seems very popular. Having heard of the impact of US black gospel singing on music I prefer, I wonder if, and to what extent, this reflects Roman Catholic church singing in Poland.

I was slightly disappointed that no Rap artist made the list. RR Brygada only had seven tracks. Special mention though for Buka, whose Inspector Buka (from Inspector Gadget) is a favourite. I was wondering at one time whether the intricacies of Polish language made it difficult to get lyrics to rhyme and scan. Rap artists swiftly disproved this.

Special mention for a few artists. Mitch & Mitch for incomprehensible lyrics with a few catchy words to sing along to (Oh Yeah!). If you want to make an English language song, but understand virtually none of it, this is for you. Brutally Awful Coffee have a great name. All Alone produced a great 23 minute, "So I've decided to make a record of a summer thunderstorm", adding subtle guitar to what sounds like a continuous recording of a typical Polish thunderstorm in

Finally, thanks to Foobar 2000 for PC, which has been an essential part of my music library system. My Android player is Pulsar free edition.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

You can't spread my ashes on the garden

The majority of people in Poland expect to be buried (after they die of course), with cremation being a minority aspiration. My own prejudice is against the messy rotting in the ground, much preferring a quick clean disposal.

Even ashes used to have to be placed in cemeteries, but changes to this were discussed some years ago. I never heard any more, but an article in confirms this is still a requirement. In England, my mother Mother had her ashes scattered on the crematorium roses and my final resting place being the garden is fine by  me. Not possible here though.

I do go to family graves as a rather bemused assistant, but I can't help think that simply stepping out the door to visit me would be more convenient. Its not something I believe in, but if I wake up some day for whatever reason Roman Catholics have, I'd be interested to see what happened to the garden.

The garden a week ago, with snow.

I'm still alive

 In good health and am due to have my first inoculation in two days time.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Ukraine: When two Blocks collide

I've always found the flow of history fascinating (abstracted from the names and dates I can't remember). Whether one believes in the cyclicality of history or just the enduring nature of human psychology: there seems to be a regular pattern in which conflicts start.

As a completely unaligned observer of history unfolding around the Ukraine, I now only speculate whether the nature of the world has changed enough to avoid war.

If not, it seems clear the cycle is turning. An aggressively expanding economic and political power is moving into the Ukraine in a direct effort to enhance its position and to displace a declined economic and political power whose sphere of influence and open markets have been seriously diminished. What might one historically expect to be happen?

The first step in a conflict would be a war of words with each side believing all that it is doing is right and fair, and that the other side is or, at least, is close to evil and ever-malignant. I don't know about Russia, but it seems clear that the political leadership in the EU and the USA are imbued by this belief and I suspect that the people's attitude ranges from agreement to disinterest, with minimal potential for sympathy.

I claim to be an unaligned observer, because in Russophobic Poland, I feel I am subject to a constant bombardment of anti-Russian propaganda. I cannot help but suspect that this is little different from what I would have experienced about Germany before the first and second world wars. Having been brought up shortly after the latter, I am naturally Germanophobic, so I know that the emotion goes beyond either logic or common sense even when there is nothing to provoke it, whilst it spontaneously springs to the fore at any provocation. I am suspicious of everything I hear.

Whether the EU/USA emotions date back to the communist period or before, it is clear that the emotional barriers and the war of words exist and extend back to well before the Ukraine became an issue. It is unquestionably there. Who is right and wrong isn't even a question to be asked as both sides know, but have a different knowledge.

The next element for a war would be the strengthening of economic barriers between the groups beyond that normally found between competing economic blocks. The EU and others began this process over the Ukraine, with Russia immediately raising the game. Both sides doubtless believed that they were right and justified in their actions. Certainly this was the EU reaction. I particularly liked one personal example. When Russia put an embargo on the import of Polish products, the Polish Agricultural Minister said that the Russians had "shot themselves in the foot". Isn't just as logical to say that that Poland, in supporting the EU and USA measures, had shot itself in the foot? However, the EU measures were justified whilst the Russians were not.

As a result of tit-for-tat sanction, the economic situation in Russia is rapidly going into and recession. What might one expect to happen if the diminished block in this contest, already feeling threatened, finds the prosperity it had or even only hoped for gets stripped away by the actions of an expanding power? It seems that the EU and USA hope that Russia will accept the need to change to align with their model in some way. Is it likely that a troubled opponent will give up and accept everything its enemy wishes?

The final step before war seems to be military border actions in one form or another. I don't know what the Russians are doing on the Ukrainian border. I assume that something is happening there, but my sources are pro-EU and not to be trusted too much in current circumstances. (Fabricated claims of military interference has it's own traditions in the run up to wars.) EU political support for the pro-EU Ukrainians against the pro-Russian elements has been so overwhelming, that the Ukraine had already become a border area and is not neutral ground. The EU has effectively claimed it as part of its own. Indeed, the activities by pro-Russian separatists indicate that they, at least, have accepted that the allegiances have now no place in today's Ukraine.

The EU will no doubt, in its righteousness, draw a distinguishing line between its political support and Russian military support. I doubt whether the flow of history would care: its people's feelings rather than technicalities which matter. I was however interested in the article at,1136140-Pierwsze-tiry-MON-z-pomoca-dla-zolnierzy-w-drodze-na-Ukraine.html in one of Poland's papers. It says something like:

"The first lorries of humanitarian aid from the [Polish] Ministry of Defence for Ukrainian troops are on their way to the city. ... Our assumption is that the humanitarian aid went into Ukraine on Sunday - said Defence spokesman Jacek Sońta. He said that the Ministry will provide Ukrainian soldiers with 320 tons of extended validity food, blankets, mattresses and bedding. ... These items will be shipped to the base near Lviv; where the lorries will be unladen and return to Poland. Further distribution is dealt with by the Ukrainian side - said Sońta. Help from the Polish Ministry of National Defence is the result of an agreement between the Polish and Ukrainian [Governments?] on 14 August. All the gifts come from military stocks."
Some time ago, I had seen a newspaper report of Polish humanitarian aid for the pro-EU anti-government protesters encamped in Kiev being allowed into the Ukraine. It seems clear that the EU has therefore been directly involved in political developments in the Ukraine and is now directly supporting military action against pro-Russian elements. The EU is directly involved in anti-Russian activity in the Ukraine.

The Polish press is doing its bit. If you want to help the war effort you can do so. The same newspaper article gives bank account numbers for apparently genuine humanitarian aid charities, but you can directly help the war effort:

Fundacja Otwarty Dialog (The Open Dialogue Foundation) collects funds, amongst other things for dressings, helmets and bulletproof vests for Ukrainian soldiers. Payments can be made ​​into a special account: 56 2490 0005 0000 4600 5911 3255, quoting "bronezhylety"

 I've no idea what the future holds, but the classic conditions for war seem to be there. We always seem to be surprised, but there isn't really any reason to be.

A footnote. I think Hegel's History of Philosophy identified the role of exceptional individuals who shaped the course of history (Julius Caesar and Napoleon seem likely examples). Could there be such a person now? I was impressed by Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski's support for the uprising against the Ukrainian pro-Russian government. He was so aggressive and assertive that I thought of him fantasising that he was standing on the top of the barricade, flag in hand, like some French Revolution (or some Polish revolt) leader. He even seemed to drag the leaders of other EU countries along behind him. Moderating Sikorski's position still led them to harden their own. He is now a candidate for EU Foreign Minister.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Saint George - the best mature cheese in Poland

The title in full should be "the best mature hard cheese that has been widely available in Polish shops". It was still in Biedronka a week or so back and it is the best I have bought.

It is Portuguese Saint George cheese, matured for at least four months. I suspect the name is deliberately to hint at it being a cheddar type cheese, which it is and which it tastes like. (The unopened packet in the picture is my second one.) It has a good strong taste, without the overpowering bite of the longer matured Australian cheddar I remember in England.

The price was either 6 or 7 zloty, which at therefore either 30 or 35 zloty a kilo compares extraordinarily well with the tasteless to mild, but pleasant tasting, standard hard cheeses whose price seems to be focusing around 25 zloty a kilo. A 3 month matured version had the same price.

(To divert: the wine is a very nice, slightly sparkling dry red. I can't remember where I bought it, but most probably Tesco, although Lidl or Biedronka are possibilities. The price would have been between 12 and 16 zlotys.)

The bad news about Sao Jorge is that it seems to be a short term offering by Biedronka, so I don't know if and when it will return. It was discounted from what was said to be an original price (although I never noticed it at full price). I fervently hope that they will be taking up the Lidl practice of regularly re-introducing 'new' specialist products like this for short periods. Even if they do, however, Sao Jorge may not be one of them: they stayed on the shelves for weeks.

Biedronka is Portuguese owned and I had been wondering for some time if they would, again like Lidl, move to using their foreign retail chain supply line to give alternative products in Poland. The first hint I had of this was a couple of months ago, although it was a range of French soft cheeses, again at about the 35 zloty a kilo mark (discounted price). This was cheaper than Polish camembert and brie, which is sometimes strangely advertised as being like rubber, which they usually are. Whilst a soft cheese expert might have dismissed Biedronka's French cheeses, I am not willing to pay the 80 to 150 zloty a kilo price in other places for what to me is rarely better. I think there was a camembert, but the others were well known regional cheeses. These disappeared very quickly from the shelves. New availability of French products did not mean it was part of a Polish/Portuguese joint marketing approach, but I wondered...

(The long-term availability of Gorgonzola in Biedronka, however, is a sign of the success of Gorgonzola in Poland, not Biedronka's internationalisation: it is available everywhere.)

However, the last few times I have wandered around there has been, in addition to Sao Jorge, a reasonable range of other Portuguese items. Especially interesting were fish products in the freezer: a cod meal/pie without pastry (if you know what I mean), and cod croquettes. Both reasonably priced and still in our freezer, so I don't yet now what they are like.

It all makes Biedronka a much more interesting and worthwhile place to go to for the occasional value for money luxury, rather than being just a conveniently positioned partial alternative.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Around the Bins

It was some time ago now, but Warren asked if I had ever seen people searching the bins. Well, yes, so it's a good excuse to post some old pictures.

Our flat on the Jelonki, West Warsaw housing estate (mainly high-rise blocks) had a kitchen which overlooked the place where the bins are housed. People regularly searched them. Although they were locked, with little effort the internal bolt into the ground could be lifted, allowing both doors to open and making the lock ineffective. The left hand man in the picture below has a bent piece of metal to do this.

This man is searching in a bin that was there for a short time just next to the enclosed area. He has a small trolley/case frame. Other had bicycles.

They weren't looking for food or basic things they needed, but were involved in a private recycling business. They mainly took drink cans, but refundable beer bottles seemed to be an occasional high value bonus. In the early days, electric equipment seemed to be especially prized as well, either for parts or for repair. Increasing ability to buy new in increasingly affluent Poland seemed to stop this. There was a time when an abandoned fridge or TV would have disappeared within a few hours, but they were could later stay for a few weeks until a van collection took them away.

The bin housing also served as the local public toilet, normally a urinal, but not only, much to Mika, the dog's interest.

I would advise you, if you want to use such a place without anyone noticing you, looking up at the building in front of you is just as important as looking left or right.

The bench beside it, intended as a place to put rugs after beating them, also served as a local meeting place. These boys here do seem very skinny from my London background, but I suspect that 'healthily slim' would be a better description. As I regularly hang around school gates (waiting to pick up Misia), I often wonder if English school nutritionists would be pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming preponderance of slim, but in now way undernourished, kids.

The bin area also provided a local, city equivalent to the legendary Polish rural bus stop, where mates gathered to drink beer.

Taking rubbish out to the bins, I got to know one woman in a beer drinking crowd well enough to say a few words when ever we met. She was friendly and completely unthreatening, although sometimes looking a bit beaten, reminding me of the drinkers around Westminster Cathedral (not Abbey) on Victoria Street in London. She was nowhere near as attractive (or young), however, as others.

This looks like malnutrition to me.

The graffiti about the police probably doesn't need translating. Polish people sometimes complain about the level of graffiti, but I was pleasently surprised at how little there was.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Overloaded to Breaking Point

This flat bed van had broken down giving just enough space for vehicles to get past when I was driving on that side of the road.

I was therefore able to pick up Misia from school and get back, taking these pictures from the car, waiting at the traffic lights on the return journey. They had been carrying bricks - some loaded and some taken off - see left, but it had been so heavy that the vehicle simply broke in two.

A vehicle rescue trailer had been there with the driver scratching his head, looking rather bemused.