Thursday, July 29, 2021

 "The listener memorises a performance as a revelation, a phenomenon, while the artist only terms of skill and sound." - Mateusz Torzecki and Łukasz Słoński

This line appeared in a chapter about female performers in the 1980s Polish rock scene. It was specifically about Kora, the lead singer of Maanam, one of the bigger groups of the era. It followed visceral descriptions of their performance at the Opole Festival in 1981. Witnesses described how Kora sang with such confidence that it completely redefined how local punk musicians should act and present themselves. Comments on YouTube would reinforce the idea of this performance as a complete revelation, and they would all be balanced by Kora's own assessment of the show: "The sound was terrible but more to the point, I just couldn't hear anything."

I watched the clips and the sound is screechy and atonal, far too raucous for my sherbet-sweet tastes. A person commented how they had this song on a cassette, a friend bought it for them from a music shop in Shinjuku and they listened to it over and over again. They never thought they would be able to see this actual performance but it was here! I understood that shock and that overwhelming gratitude, seeing your "perfect song" materialising from the archives with a video you never knew existed. Suddenly, the chasm between perfect and imperfect could never seem greater than the fan and the artist's impression of their own performance.

I love the absurd idea of a career-defining performance that the performer couldn't even hear. However, I find it irksome to imagine that Kora, as a leading punk figurehead, would be preoccupied by notions of "skill and sound". It's just so crazy and neurotic, it superimposes this perfectionist attitude that clashes with basic punk ideology. I truly believe that you can tell when someone is performing from an entirely free and unconcerned state. That's what makes performances like Maanam at Opole 1981 so extraordinary. You are witnessing an artist in a supreme state of commitment to their own artistry. When you see something like that, you finally realise that perfectionist angst is for amateurs. It is more important to show up and will your art into existence.

Maanam at Opole, 1981

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Polish Pop Podcast #66
Papa Dance - O La La
Roxa - A ona tańczy
Maanam - Lipstick on the Glass
Tilt - Mówię Ci że
Kapitan Nemo - Twoja Lorelei
Andrzej Zaucha - Byłaś serca biciem
Papa Dance - Czy ty lubisz to co ja
Ex Dance - Powrót Donalda

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Explore C&CM Podcasts 1-65 here

1 comment:

Things said...

Downloading, excited to listen :)