Gdansk-based psychedelic rockers Trupa Trupa released the arresting single 'Dream About' back in February. It prompted us to catch their awesome live show at SXSW and we've been keeping a keen eye on their socials ever since hoping for the follow up. Their new single 'Remainder', and accompanying video, is that follow up. The track centres around a cacophonous swirl of transcendent guitars, pounding motorik beats, and meaningful, Fugazi-influenced lyricism where we hear the words "It did not take place!" scornfully repeated in an intriguing melodic fashion.
The video is directed by US-based director Nick Larson and resembles Koyaanisqatsi somewhat with a montage of lo-fi archive footage of natural and humanitarian disasters.
The director offers a lengthy, yet poignant, explanation of the video, which is streaming below, to press. It's highly political and well worth reading. We've kept it in his own words as opposed to cut for brevity due to the profound nature of his creation.
"I thought a lot about the lyrics ['It Did Not Take Place'] when looking for content" says Larson "And kept coming back to humans and their impact both on each other and the world around them. In many ways we disrespect and destroy what others have built and I wanted to reflect that in the video.
"My goal for the video was to create a sense of unease and remind people that the past should not be forgotten. I also felt very moved by this quote from Grzegorz Kwiatkowski interview about the Stutthof concentration camp:
'Many people want to change history. I feel these shoes, this is the old truth. So, we have to secure these artifacts from the Holocaust because it will not be so easy to say it didn't happen. It's kind of an anti-war statement, but also a 'never forget' statement.'
Watch: Trupa Trupa - 'Remainder'
"And though much of the video [streaming above] had been finished when this article was published, this quote became a driving force behind finishing the video. In America, we see a rise of nationalism and immigrants being detained in alarming and disgusting ways in what can only really be called concentration camps. It feels like we haven't learned anything from the past."
In light of this above statement, Gigwise asks Kwiatkowski - who is often the spokesperson for the band in but by no means band leader: Trupa Trupa is an equal partnership between the four members - if his perspective on the 'Remainder' song is similar?
He tells us he was surprised at how accurately Larson's perspective aligned with his own and: "In my opinion this song has got a lot to do with memory about big tragedies."
This disdain towards the ignorant, those who try to whitewash history, is something of a lyrical thread for Trupa Trupa that stems back a few years.
Kwiatkowski is keen to mention the Trupa Trupa track 'Never Forget', taken from their 2017 Jolly New Songs album: he tells us it's dedicated to Claude Lanzmann, director of the holocaust film Shoah. And lyrically it's hard-hitting:
"We never we never forget humiliation / We never we never forget those ghetto deaths" is chanted over velvets drones before it switches to a high pitch for the shouted line: "They sound like a midnight choir!"
And what a nobly stirred lyricism. this is the stuff Chomsky and John Pilger would devour over morning coffee.
In terms of how the holocaust and big tragedies have been embedded in their consciousness and become important themes in Trupa Trupa, Kwiatkowski writes Gigwise this thoughtful letter below, which is being published for the first time today.
N.B. He asks us to consider that his perspective on the music is not definitive and that even within the band they can take the meaning in different ways and for listeners to make up their own mind.
Exclusive: Grzegorz Kwiatkowski on Trupa Trupa:
"Trupa Trupa come from Gdansk – the place of the darkest and most glorious moments of humanity. The city is soaked with history. Here, it is not a distant abstract notion, but a tangible part of our everydayness and identity. It is also a gloomy burden: the II World War started here, the Nazi German Concentration Camp in Stutthoff was located only 30 miles away, there are still existing buildings of the medical academy where the Nazis conducted experiments on producing soap from human bodies, there is still an empty space of the Great Synagogue razed by NSDAP militia, execution walls, bullet and shrapnel marks on the facades that survived the war which turned 80% of the city into ruins.
"We live in the interiors of historical flats and houses, which were left in panic by their German inhabitants fleeing from rapes and barbarism of the Red Army. We live and breathe the history of the place where the apocalypse happened. But Gdańsk is also the city of hope. It was here where in 1980 the peaceful movement of Solidarity began the fall of the iron curtain. Ordinary people: workers and citizens made a stand which changed the world. Living here is being torn by these two extremes. We cherish our freedom but the history of the city is also a grim reminder of the evil that a man is capable of. We cannot forget it, we cannot justify it, we must remember and cannot be indifferent.
"We feel obliged to explore the reasons behind human catastrophe. We may never find the answer, but we seek to bring awareness that peace and freedom are not given for granted and the apocalypse is still within a human reach.
"It happened in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Sudan and shows how weak and susceptible our nature is to hatred and how easily the ideologies make people into monsters. The evil is not abstract. We feel it even more when the world now is gradually becoming an archipelago of distant islands hidden behind the walls of populism, prejudices and fear. In this situation Gdańsk's legacy imposes on us a special responsibility.
"With all our creation the band have been trying to make a strong statement against hatred. We feel organically bound with the words of Marek Edelman, the last commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: 'When you see people beating someone, always take the side of the beaten one'. The anti-hate message is the core of our art. It stems individually from each one of us and from the identity of our place – one of the most painfully experienced cities in history. We are even more convinced about our stand after a recent tragic events which took place in Gdańsk this year. The Mayor of city was stabbed to death in public during a charity event by a right wing motivated assassin and we dedicated our SXSW 2019 performances to him. The hate and evil are not abstract and we cannot accept it."
Indeed, Trupa Trupa have their head screwed on. And it's with pleasure we're part of a pan-European scene where their music is able to come into our laps.
The band have their fifth album titled Of The Sun coming out 13 September and it's being released by Glitterbeat Records (Europe & elsewhere), Lovitt Records (USA), Moorworks (Japan) and Antena Krzyku (Poland).
Tour dates are below. More dates are to be announced soon:
01 - Prague, United Islands of Prague
24 - The Hague, Paard
25 - Paris, Point Ephemere
27 - London, Corsica Studios
08 - New York, Union Pool
09 - Washington D.C, Pie Shop