Żywizna is a collaborative project between two distinct voices in Polish underground music – Genowefa Lenarcik and Raphael Rogiński. Żywizna reinterprets the music of the Kurpie region of Poland.
Raphael Rogiński is one of the most forward-thinking guitarists to emerge in Europe over last few decades. He has immersed himself in primitive American folk and blues, early Israeli music, European improvisation, Mediterranean music, Jewish African music, American experimental music and the work of of Bach and Coltrane.
Genowefa Lenarcik who was born in 1940 in the village of Krobia, part of the Kurpie region, and is the daughter of folk singing legend Stanisław Brzozowy. According to Rogiński, the only musicians he can compare her to are bluesmen from the Sahara. Together, they form a duo just as unconventional as it is natural. And they bring out the rich heritage of this region, enhanced by the natural sounds of the forests of Northeastern Poland.
The creators of “Żywizna” enjoy the tradition of forest singing, evoking wilderness and mystery of the Green Forest. The character of the tracks is formed by the unique lyric poetry of traditional Kurpie texts and Raphael Rogiński’s contemporary guitar sounds. Forest singing meets here with the overdriven sound of the electric guitar, bringing associations with the blues from the Mississippi Delta.
The life of the residents of the Kurpiowski Forest, with its vast swamps and sandy pine forests, has for centuries has been associated with wild nature. Agriculture was introduced here quite late and in an ad hoc fashion. Traditional activities included wild beekeeping, pitching, digging for amber, hunting, fishing or plaiting.
The hard and wild way of living influenced the character of Kurpie’s songs – longing, tender, full of raw beauty, but sung with a powerful voice. People of Kurpie who are used to natural forest space and open fields say that you have to sing openly and widely, to create a decent enough echo back from the woods. The tempo of their songs is slow, allowing the use of rich melismatics (singing one syllable for a few following sounds). Typical of the Kurpie song is also the apocope, archaic manner of execution; consisting of “understatement” or the “blanking” of the last sound or syllable in the verse. Perhaps it once was a ritual way of leaving a place in a song for nature to respond to the singer.