The wave scene is undoubtedly gaining momentum in the US, but a lot is also happening in the European strongholds of the genre. Liquid Ritual has just announced a new London show in March, but more importantly, CZELUŚĆ released its new compilation, titled W#7. The Polish-based duo/collective is one of the undisputed leaders of the Eastern European bass music scene and a historical hub for wave. Founded in 2015 by Jutrø and Kosa, the CZELUŚĆ brand now includes a record label, a radio show, a video production arm, and runs both a series of club nights and a homonymous festival. One of the showpieces of the project is definitely its compilations. We briefly mentioned the series back in 2019 on the occasion of the release of the fourth volume, but to understand the scope of its importance it is enough to know that it has hosted the likes of Kareful, Deadcrow, Sidewalk & Skeletons, brothel, Da Vosk Docta, and skeler.
This seventh chapter comes almost two years after the previous one, and adds, to the already prestigious guest list, two of the hottest artists of the moment: Juche and barnacle boi. However, the real strength of this volume doesn’t lie just in the singles, but in the quality of the entire musical journey. Proof of the outstanding work done by Jutrø and Kosa on the curation, which continued to subvert my expectations from start to finish.
On first listening, there were only a few tracks that really stuck with me. ‘Tokyo Nights’ by sapphyre, for its fantastic use of different kinds of vocals, ‘Exulansis’ by all your friends for its apocalyptic and movie-score inspired vibes, and ‘ICore’ by Juche, from whom I didn’t expect such a phonk oriented tune. But one re-listen after another (a reminder of how important it is to consume music slowly, alienating ourselves from the fast-food practices of streaming culture) many more memorable moments emerged within the album’s runtime. First and foremost are the vocals in ‘Lesley’, a song produced and sung by longtime collaborators Jutrø and Linda. Heartbreaking in some passages, cold and cynical in others, this performance never ceases to give me chills. Then I need to mention the, equally unexpected, up-tempo beats of Kosa’s ‘Demons’, the classic OG wave atmospheres in barnacle boi’s ‘Falling’ and ‘Isolated’ by OLDFLOP, who somehow managed to flawlessly blend together an instrumental that reminds me of nvrmore and a stereotypical phonk vocal sample.
I found it interesting to note that W#7 is the wave compilation with the least presence of hardwave in recent years, and vice versa, the one that has embraced phonk influences the most. It’ll be interesting to observe whether this is a global trend or whether it is a peculiarity dictated by geographical influences. Leaving aside genre subdivisions, this album has, first of all, the credit of having surprised, amazed and entertained me over and over again.