Zbigniew Karkowski – “The Last Man in Europe” LP Album review

Zbigniew Karkowski – The Last Man in Europe

Zbigniew Karkowski was a very important and influential figure across various arenas of music including electronic, noise, experimental, avant-garde some of which obviously cross over from time to time.  He passed away at the age of 55 a mere 6 weeks after recording what we have before us today.

The Last Man in Europe is a document of Mr. Karkowski’s presentation to the BBC 1954 teleplay production of George Orwell’s “1984-The Last Man in Europe.”  This piece was recorded live at The Horse Hospital – a London independent arts venue on October 31, 2013.

On a personal note, this recording is nothing like I have ever heard before.  It’s uniqueness makes it virtually impossible to categorize.   However, this important recording is the work of not only a pioneer but a master of electronic music dynamics and frequencies. Some of the tones here range from mid-level to ear-piercing.  There are other moments, for example (around 3:30 in track 2) when the base track, often ebbing and flowing is layered by a sound that  can best be described as a noise wind.  It’s at that point where this recording really has become a brain-altering experience.

Few releases in experimental and noise arenas can really invade the mind the way The Last Man in Europe does.  It reaches beyond the reasons why we listen to noise and experimental music in the first place.

Fortunately, Erratum Records has decided to release this important recording in LP form giving the piece and Mr Karkowski the respect they deserve.  As noted above, Zbigniew Karkowski passed away six weeks after this recording was presented.  He traveled to the jungles of Peru seeking the help of Shaman healers for his pancreatic cancer.  This is further confirmation that this influential artist lived and died in areas where a very small amount of people dared to go before.

ZK – 3.14.1958 – 12.12.2013


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