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Music | THE ALBUM • № 8


Record label: ZIC-ZAC

Release data: 1991



Images: Wojciech Pacuła | Teatr STU | | press materials

No 206

July 1, 2021

THE ALBUM series is devoted to exceptional Polish music albums, with particular attention paid to the recording method, sound and release quality. In the eighth episode of this series, we present the SOYKA ACOUSTIC album. This year marks the 30th anniversary of its release.

REMEMBER PERFECTLY A DAY WHEN STANISŁAW SOJKA performed on the stage of the Juliusz Słowacki Theater, where I was the acoustics foreman at the time. Although the event was handled by a TV crew, we also did our part. I also remember that it was a time when I despised autographs, I was, or at least that’s what I thought, a friend with all of them and even Krzysztof Penderecki was just another artist for me that I worked with. Now I regret this flair and panache. The more so as when Soyka appeared on the stage during the rehearsal, all my friends stocked up on his records waited patiently for him to sign these. I, as I say, didn’t.

⸜ All previous releases of the SOYKA Acoustic : original LP, reissue LP, (underneath) original CD release, reissue CD (version without the "24 bit" stamp)

The album that my friends held in their hands was titled In Concert, recorded with Janusz "Janina" Iwański, released in 1990, played acoustic, combining an original songs, jazz and even pop music. Stanisław Sojka, as a musician, has two sides, jazz and pop one. And it is difficult to clearly define which is the "right" one, although thanks to the former, he gained recognition in the music community, and thanks to the latter, the popularity among millions of Polish fans of good music. He seems to be comfortable within both idioms. The album ACOUSTIC, released in 1991 by the Zic-Zac label, in a way - in my opinion - brings them together perfectly.


⸜ THE BEGINNINGS BORN ON APRIL 26, 1959 IN ŻORY, Upper Silesia, Stanisław Joachim Sojka is a Polish jazz and pop singer, as well as an instrumentalist - he plays the piano, guitar and violin; we also know him as a composer and arranger. On the album he signs as Stanisław Sojka, Stanisław Soyka or simply Soyka, but he started singing as Staszek, even Stasiu, at the age of seven, in a cathedral choir.

Under the supervision of Wacław Różak, he performed European music, ranging from Wacław of Szamotuły, Gomółka, through the Italian Renaissance, Baroque, Handel, Bach, Mozart, Verdi, to Moniuszko. As he said in one of the interviews, he started out in sopranos, then was in alto, and ended in tenors. At the age of fourteen, he became a church organist, which earned him his first money for playing at weddings. As it would turn out, his faith was more than just a 1960s childhood fascination, when the Church (I mean as an institution) was the only place of freedom and a space for music.

In the Stanisław Sojka’s discography one can surprisingly regularly find recordings and albums attesting to that, such as, for example, released in 1994 as the fourth album in his career Matko, która nas znasz..., Polskie Pieśni Wielkopostne from 2001, or the two years younger Tryptyk Rzymski. Interestingly, I have never heard from anyone, or read any important text in which his commitment to faith would be mocked, pointed out, or even reproached. And in the music industry, such clear declarations about religion are not well received - unless you are Ozzy Osbourn, then you can do anything ... But it seems that Stanisław Sojka also gained some kind of immunity.

⸜ JAZZ He started his career in the 1970s, with his debut in November 1978 with a blues and gospel recital at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw. A recording of the concert, during which he sang songs by Ray Charles, Carole King and the Beatles, was included on his first album Don't You Cry (1979). The next two albums, however, are closer to jazz, and the album Blublula released in 1982 became part of the Polish Recordings "Muza" POLISH JAZZ series, under the number 63, and the magazine "JazzPRESS" included it in the Polish Jazz Canon (find a review of all its editions HERE).

⸜ Janusz Janina Iwański and Stanisław Sojka (on the right), a photo from early 1990ties. • photo

Describing this item in his brochure (incredible, but this is the only publication dedicated to the "Polish Jazz" series!), Tony Adam speaks of a "good singer" with a "soulful voice", citing as a reference point - somewhat anachronistic, because these are different periods of activity - figure of MICHAEL BUBBLE. In turn, Maciej Lewenstein in his English monograph Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond, dedicated to Polish jazz, compares Soyka's singing style in the initial period to Mose Alison. He also wrote this about the artist himself:

Stanisław Soyka was, in fact, the first true jazz singer in Poland, at least if we ignore crooners such as Andrzej Dąbrowski or cabaret singers (Warsaw 2016, p. 347).

The author of the 76 Records: The 'Polish Jazz' Series (Polskie Nagrania Muza) does not value the Blublula album too high, saying that it will probably only be bought by musicians, but this is an isolated assessment. Levenstein considers it to be Sojka's best jazz album, referring to it as "very original" and "emotional", and the album itself was chosen the "Jazz Album of the Year" and gained the status of a Gold Record, selling over 30.000 copies.

The style developed on it was continued by the jazzman in question, also on the Stanisław Soyka album released for RCA in Germany on August 8, 1986. The album, let me add, was extremely successful and very well recorded, and yet, without proper promotion, it went unnoticed, both in the West and - even more so - in Poland. In an interview for „Rzeczpospolita”, the artist said:

The most enlightening for me was meeting the RCA people from the London’s office. They had conversations about their commercial artists saying something like: “Don’t worry, what he lacks in his music, he will make up with his looks. We'll manage". I think I was a tragic thread in their story.

⸜ JACEK CIEŚLAK Jak walczyłem z pychą, „Rzeczpospolita” 05.12.2008,, accessed: 11.05.2021.

Among people who were responsible for this album was world-famous music producer Harold Faltermeyer, and the recordings were made thanks to the recommendation of the then manager of Maanam - ROBERT LYNG.

Sojka will come back to jazz again, and in a "serious" way. The Radioaktywny album featured some brilliant Polish jazzman, such as Tomasz Szukalski - soprano saxophone, Andrzej Przybielski - trumpet, and Zbigniew Brysiak - percussion instruments; the latter was a member of the Tie Break, one of the most interesting groups in Polish music, where he performed with the already mentioned (not for the last time, let's add) Janusz "Janina" Iwański.

However, this fact was not the one surprising, but rather an equal share of musicians associated with rock music who also participated in these recordings. I mean people such as Andrzej Nowicki (Voo Voo, Perfect) playing bass, guitarist Wojciech Waglewski (Voo Voo among others), drummer Marek Czapelski (Ireneusz Dudek, Kombi, Tie Break and Voo Voo, also one of the founders of the Śmierć Kliniczna), or Olga Jackowska (Maanam), who is better known as Kora. So it was an album that broke the jazz pattern, although without introducing any radical changes.

Radioaktywny was the last Soyka’s album where jazz was a dominant music style.


SOYKA's ALBUM TITLE ACOUSTIC, today probably less meaningful than when it was released, is an expression of a revolution in popular music carried out by the American music station MTV. Currently owned by ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks Music Television, it was established in 1981 with the aim of broadcasting music videos. Although today it is not the same as it was in the 1980s and 1990s, it still attracts 1.5 billion people from 140 countries and is cited as one of the icons of pop culture that has shaped the musical tastes of several generations. Sojka - consciously or not - at the perfect moment referred to the change in thinking about the music that MTV promoted in the 90s by broadcasting "unplugged" concerts.

⸜ The most famous album of the MTV Unplugged series - Nirvana

In Adam Wolański's Słownik terminów muzyki rozrywkowej, the term 'acoustic' has three meanings: (1) concerning the production of sound as an acoustic (phonic) phenomenon, (2) relating to the acoustics of the interior, and the third, most important for us:

3.«relating to an instrument equipped with a natural (not electric or electronic) resonator and to the music performed on such an instrument»

In the music world, the term "acoustic" is now used interchangeably with "unplugged". This shift came from popular culture - in 1989, MTV, then at its peak of popularity, launched a series of shows known as the MTV Unplugged. As it turned out, it was an idea worth its weight in gold because it brought publishers and performers enormous popularity and hence money. Regularly broadcast from 1989 to 1999, it hosted the greatest artists of whatever style they played, including Nirvana and their 1994's MTV Unplugged in New York.

Participating in this series was an extremely ennobling event over the years. Also in Poland, several musicians and bands participated in it: Kult, Natalia Przybysz, O.S.T.R, Kayah, Kasia Kowalska, Hey and Wilki. The series continues to this day, but with the decline of interest in MTV, it lost its importance. Let me add that in 1993, radio Łódź hosted the first concert of the Koncert akustyczny BEZ PRĄDU series, copying the idea of MTV. Originally, five albums were released as part of it, and three more in the following years.

In the case of "unplugged" music we are talking about transferring an idiom known from the performance of classical and jazz music to mass culture. It was supposed to be a way to increase its value, but also to generate additional income - after all, it was not about new compositions, but their new arrangements. This intention seems to have been fully successful. It worked well also for the Soyka’s album. Both the musician and journalists will later say that this idea "came before" or even "anticipated" the fashion for "acoustic" albums:

Recorded completely independently thanks to the patronage of Dieter Meier from Yello, with whom I had made friends before. Acoustic pop. Totally independently released by ZIC-ZAC. Over 400,000 copies legally sold. Breakthrough in my career. And it happened ahead of time (quite accidentally), before unplugged concerts became so popular., accessed: 06.05.2021.

Looking at the calendar it is impossible to determine how much truth there is in it, at least when it comes to world music. Although, let me add, it is an absolute truth in terms of Polish music. The thing is that Sojka, like any sensitive artist, had to "feel" the coming changes in the air and reacted accordingly to this feeling. The more so, that over the years he tried to make each subsequent album different from the previous one. The fact that he actually anticipated the fashion for playing "unplugged" is evidenced by the fact that Dieter Meier, the producer of the Acoustic, whom he’d met in 1987 and already back then he had an outline of the concept of the album in question, while the MTV program started by the end of 1989. So, there is something to it.

This artist's choice was helped by his tendency to differentiate his albums. Soyka told the editor of the music magazine "JazzPRESS" that although he "did not have to do anything", he was an outsider, which gave him his freedom, "on the other hand, I actually felt very early that when I recorded an album, the next one should not remind the previous one at all. I don't know why, but that was my idea of development ”.

Regardless of the inspiration, in 1990 the idea was absolutely fresh - the first part of the 13-episode season one of the MTV Unplugged aired on MTV on November 26, 1989, so it wasn't a direct inspiration for the Acoustic album. The idea for it stemmed rather, it seems, from the reference to how jazz was played until the introduction of electric instruments in the mid-1950s - organs, including the Hammond B-3, and Rhodes and Wurlitzer pianos, and later also bass guitar and - finally - synthesizers, electronic drums and samplers.


THE ACOUSTIC ALBUM WAS RELEASED by the, then completely unknown, independent label ZIC-ZAC and was one of their first titles. Zic-Zac Music Company Sp. z o.o. was a Polish music label, founded in 1990 by MAREK KOŚCIKIEWICZ, known also as a member of the De Mono band. It released albums of many of the most important Polish musicians and bands who later occupied the Polish charts: De Mono, Kayah, Kazik, Various Manx, Andrzej Piaseczny, Elektryczne Gitary, Golden Life and others. In 1996, Kościkiewicz sold the publishing house to the BMG concern, and the Zic-Zac brand was transformed into a sub-division of BMG in Poland. Today, a recording studio, owned by Kościkiewicz, the ZIC-ZAC STUDIO, operates under this name.

⸜ An original LP release

The independence in question, which is constantly evolving in the context of the Acoustic album, resulted from the fact that 1990 was a breakthrough for the Polish state and the economy. It was then that the processes began that quickly turned a bankrupt country into a classic free market economy - for good and for bad. On January 15th the station began broadcasting in Krakow, on January 27, by the resolution of the 11th Congress of the PZPR, the activities of the party were terminated, and in March the inflation record was set - in 12 months it reached 1360%.

This freedom was an important part of the album's genesis. In a telephone conversation with Stanisław Sojka, the last words I heard were: "for the first time in my life, I could do what I wanted". As it turns out, the key to that was… money. There is an extraordinary story associated with the creation of the Acoustic album and exceptional, non-obvious people were involved in it.

⸜ MONEY The thank you note on the cover reads: "DIETER - I can't find the right words to express my thankful feelings so I’ll just say …… Love to you." Who is it for? - the one and only DIETER MEIER, Swiss musician and producer, co-founder of the YELLO duo, who played the role of a producer for the Acoustic. In addition to his musical activity, Dieter was also involved in directing and producing films and music videos. He produced all of Yello's music videos, but also the music video for the Big in Japan by Alphaville.

Sojka and Meier met in 1987 thanks to a film. In an interview that the Polish musician gave to Playboy in 2010, we read that the member of Yello was going to shoot a movie in Poland at that time and was looking for contacts that would enable him to do so. And further: “Poland was then considered a convenient country for film production, the people were competent, and everything was cheaper. Friends pointed at me. I became Dieter's first guide. "

In a conversation with me, Stanisław Sojka repeated what he said to Rafał Księżyk at that time:

We got to know each other a little, he heard my tapes and showed some interest. I had an idea that I wanted to make a pop record, but an acoustic one at that, with no electric instruments. He said, "Great! How much do you need for it? He stated that he would finance such production.

⸜ RAFAŁ KSIĘŻYK, Stanisław Soyka, „Playboy” no 2, 2010, see HERE, accessed: 06.05.2021..

As it turns out, everything comes down to talent and money. The Sojka-Meier team turned out to be optimal in this respect. The musician contributed music and lyrics to almost all the songs on the album, and Meier contributed his production experience and funds, which allowed the artist to invite musicians he wanted to join him on this album.

⸜ Back of the original cover

⸜ MUSIC So musicians such as: JANUSZ "YANINA" IWAŃSKI (or Janusz "Janina" Iwański), the guitarist of the Tie Break jazz band, whom Sojka met earlier while preparing the material for the Radioaktywny album, and later played with on the concert album titled simply In Concert (1990), double bassist WITOLD E. REK, JAN PIOTROWSKI on drums, MATEUSZ POSPIESZALSKI on saxophone and others participated in the recording sessions for the album. In turn, the strings in the Hard to Part were arranged by JAN KANTY PAWLUŚKIEWICZ, a well-known Krakow composer.

The artist himself sang on it, and also played the piano, acoustic guitar and violin. Let's not forget that we are talking about a multi-instrumentalist and an extremely talented one at that. He could read music at the age of eight, and was accepted to the second, instead of the first, year at the K. Szymanowski Music Academy in Katowice, to the arrangement and composition class - he graduated from Academy within three years. As he says:

During my technical diploma I played Caprice by Paganini, Etudes by Kreutzer and Sonata by Telemann. Suddenly I got distracted, I did not know what to play next, and had to do something within just fractions of a second. So I started improvising and played maybe 16 bars, pretty brazenly. Then I caught the continuation of the original piece and made it to the final. I was afraid it would be perceived as a poor performance, but actually the teaching staff applauded. Already during the studies, my beloved professor Tadeusz Borkowski, an extremely wise man, said to me: “You know, Stachu, you won’t be the next David Oistrakh. But you have an improvisational talent."

⸜ JACEK CIEŚLAK Jak walczyłem z pychą, op. cit.

There were eleven tracks on the Acoustic, although - as the artist told me - he had many more ready. I'm not sure, but it looks like the additional ones were not recorded because they thought that a too long album was a bad idea: "we wanted to moderate ourselves," he added. I wonder if the fact that nine out of eleven songs were sung in English was intentional as to try to conquer Western markets.

However, both ones sung in Polish, Cud niepamięci and Tak jak w kinie, became hits in Poland, and the album was not noticed abroad. Let's add that Cud niepamięci later became the title of the compilation from the "Golden Collection" series, published by Pomaton EMI in 1998.

⸤ PRODUCTION Even though the album we devoted the 8th edition of the "Here's an album" series to was an absolute hit - 400,000 copies were sold legally and probably twice as many illegally, on cassettes - its creation is still accompanied by a lot of ambiguity and half-truths.

Take, for example, a Wikipedia entry - it says that Stanisław Sojka's ninth album was recorded "in August 1991 at Studio Wisła", which is not true (unfortunately most other sites repeat this information). But the place of mixing the album - Studio of Polish Radio Szczecin - is given correctly, which in turn changes to the S-4 studio in Warsaw in many sources.

⸜ Studer A-800 MkIII • photo reports that the recording was made at Teatr Stu AND at the Polish Radio Szczecin, and the mix was made at the radio’s Studio S-4 in Warsaw in June 1990. This information follows the description that appeared on the covers of the CD and LP editions. What's more, the online Catalog of Polish Gramophone Records informs that Joanna Sedlaczek was responsible for the sound production. We'll come back to that in a moment.

After all, the first and most important choice was the acoustic character of the album. The second, perhaps equally important, decision was to hire PETER SEDLACZEK for its realization, who was responsible for the recording, mixing and mastering. According to Wikipedia, Peter Siedlaczek, also known as Piotr Siedlaczek, Peter Sedlaczek, and Peter Sedlaćzek, is a director, sound engineer and music producer born in Wodzisław Śląski.

A graduate of the Sound Engineering Department of the Academy of Music in Warsaw in 1978, as a sound engineer he is responsible for the sound of many well-known albums, but is known worldwide as the author of the so-called "samples", free orchestral music fragments used in commercials and film tracks around the world. He currently lives in Frankfurt am Main. In 2019, Sojka and Seldaczek's collaboration came full circle, because they recorded together the Muzyka i słowa album.

The recordings for the Acoustic were made on the 24-track analog Studer A-800 tape recorder (some sources mention the A-80 model) and a Harris mixer with automation, located in Krakow STU Theater. Everyone who has been in this place knows that it is a small, heavily soundproofed room. As we read in the article published in Dziennik Polski, the location at al. Krasińskiego 16/18 - which - after a long renovation - has been used by the theater since 1979, contains "an auditorium for 236 people, a foyer, also guest rooms".

The recording studio established in 1980 within a decade was a place where over 70 albums were created, including artists such as: Edyta Geppert, Michał Bajor, Zbigniew Wodecki, Marek Grechuta, Grupa Pod Budą, Tomasz Stańko, Jarek Śmietana, Maanam, Dżem, TSA, Lech Janerka. It was managed by the sound engineer JACEK MASTYKARZ working with - as we read in the aforementioned article - a great team, including Halina Jarczyk and, "thanks to the ZPRs, having the most modern equipment at their disposal, incl. the first 24-track tape recorder Studer A-800 in Poland”.

⸜ Stage in STU Theater from audience perspective • photo Teatr STU

It was not the first (nor the last, let me add) meeting of the "S" men, because their cooperation started with an album for RCA, recorded in Frankfurt studios. In 2019, when commenting on the work on the latest Sojka album, where the most important are voice and piano, which is in a way a return to the "acoustic" concept, Piotr Sedlaczek said:

Recording an acoustic album with high-class professionals is generally a difficult undertaking, but it is in the nature of things… What is required is "just" a maximum concentration, optimal cooperation and the awareness that you are part of the whole.

⸜ DARIUSZ DOMAŃSKI, Piotr Siedlaczek – wywiad, 19 April 2019, accessed: 12.05.2021

The head of the recordings, as we said, was Sedlaczek, but his assistant was ALEKSANDER (ALEK) GALAS, who already had the TSA Live and Heavy Metal World albums on his account, and same year, the 1990, he recorded the concert of Lombard.

While the place of the recording is easy to explain, there is some misunderstanding regarding the place where the mix was prepared. The cover of the album reads: "Recorded at "Teatr STU" Kraków and P.R. Szczecin ”, and below: “Mixed at S-4 Studio Warszawa”. I asked Mr. Stanisław about it, to which he replied that it was a misunderstanding and that the mix was made by Sedlaczek in the Radio Szczecin Studio, as he was looking for a slightly different set of tools and a fresh "environment". The fact that Warsaw had something to do with it could be proved by naming LESZEK KAMIŃSKI, recording engineer and producer, since 1987 cooperating with the Polish Radio and Studio S4/6 in Warsaw as a recording assistant. Perhaps wind instruments were recorded in the S-4 (?).

Let me remind you, that Kamiński is one of the most famous Polish sound producers, the author of the sound on the Wilki debut album, as well as the Varius Manx The New Shape and Edyta Bartosiewicz Sen albums, nominated 14 times for the Fryderyk Awards, which were awarded to him seven times; an interesting fact - he added the last Fryderyk to his collection in 2008, for the MTV Unplugged by Kasia Nosowska and Hey, recorded together with Marcin Macuk and Wojciech Łopaciuk.

In June 1990, when the Acoustic mix was prepared, Kamiński was not yet well known - in the same year he recorded the first, signed with his name, album Ściana i groch by Monika Borys - completely forgotten today. And only two years later, with the explosion of popularity of the Wilki group, she became almost a celebrity.


AS WE ALREADY MENTIONED, Stanisław Sojka's ninth album turned out to be groundbreaking and from that moment on the musician's career is gaining momentum. So it is surprising, really surprising that in the thirty years since its release, it was re-issued only once as a Compact Disc and only once on an LP. An important event was the box release with most of Stanisław Sojka's albums, but even that does not explain the publisher's restraint.

⸤ 1. RELEASE In 1991, Zic-Zac released an LP, CD and Compact Cassette. In the same year, there were also unofficial cassettes from other companies that exploited loopholes in copyright or simply pirated the official release. It was then one of the main problems of record labels. As Marek Kościkiewicz once said, at least labels fought for artists, "we were meeting and cooperating in matters relating to music piracy". It must have been a huge problem, because back in 2015, when asked about the opening of his restaurant, he said: “Due to the sale of music on the Internet, but also due to huge piracy, revenues are also lower. That is why today any contract mentions income from concerts ”.

⸜ Label of the original release

LONG PLAY Although the beginning of the 90s was a time of a breakthrough, the LP was released in a sophisticated way. The cover features a black-and-white close-up of the artist's face, a man aware of his worth, on which horizontally, at the bottom edge, a large title has been applied in a low, wide type font, and 'Soyka' in purple is written vertically. Let me remind you that the artist signed his albums in different ways. And so - from his debut up to In Concert, released in 1990, he signed as 'Stanisław Sojka', but already on the Neopositive from 1992 and later albums he signed as 'Soyka', to later on the Tryptyk rzymski to write 'Stanisław Soyka' (2003). Let me add that WOJTEK WIETESKA is the author of the excellent cover photo.

On the back side of the cover, an interesting and well-carried out procedure was used, namely a photo of the back of the head, which is the reverse of the front. The ponytail, characteristic of that period for Sojka, is tied with metal guitar strings. This graphic is also black and white. The disc is put into a paper envelope with a printed - purple again - collage of photos of the instruments that took part in the recording. The cover is varnished and printed on thick cardboard.

And only the label is quite bland. Unfortunately, I don't know where the record was cut and pressed. Despite the modest artistic means, the album was released with class.

COMPACT DISC The CD was released in a classic way, in a jewelbox. Since the Polish CD pressing plant Takt, today a monopolist in this part of Europe, did not exist at that time (although cassette tapes were released with its logo), the disc was prepared - along with the printing - in Germany. The cover repeats the arrangement of the LP, except that the photo has a greater contrast, and the subtle purple has been changed to a bright color similar to the bishop's purple; the title of the album is also colored.

⸜ The first Compact Disc release

Instead of a classic booklet, we get a mini-poster folded into four, repeating a collage from the LP’s envelope.

⸤ RE-ISSUES In 2002 a digital re-issue in the form of Compact Disc was released by Pomaton EMI (7243 5 40687 2 2). Little is known about who prepared the remaster and how, other than that it was a 24-bit digital remaster. There is a blank space where it says "Remastered by" in the booklet.

⸜ The 2002 Compact Disc re-issue, here with the „24-bit” marking • photo press materials

The polygraphy has been changed a bit, extinguishing the angry purple of the original CD release, which brings it closer to the LP, but instead of a large "Soyka" inscription this time they used a much smaller one. This is because in the upper left corner there is a large logotype informing about the 24-bit remastering technique. It is not the best idea graphically, but I understand that it was a requirement at the time ... It turns out that additional quantities of the CD remaster were released in more recent times, without changing the sound, in which the logotype in question was abandoned, but the word "Soyka" was not corrected, which makes it look just wrong. A box with a transparent center was also unnecessarily used, because there is nothing under it, there is a white box there.

In 2004, Pomaton EMI released two albums in one box - next to the album in question, the Sonety Shakespeare was included, with a digital remaster prepared for the 2002 re-edition (5789592, 2005). However, one should avoid this release as it is a Copy Controlled Disc, not a CD (more about this anti-piracy technique - HERE). On November 28, 2008, EMI Music Poland / Warner Music Poland (MR02596204) released a box with Sojka's studio albums, except for jazz ones, with the Acoustic under number 4. It was also digitally mastered, but I don't know by whom (I don't have this release).

⸜ Long Play re-issue from 2017

LP And finally, in 2017, Warner Music Poland releases an analogue re-edition of the album (0190295857288). Its printing is extremely bad. For printing they used the graphics that were used for the CD re-issue I mentioned, i.e. both the title and the artist are in pink purple, and the photo is out of focus and too bright. The inscription 'Soyka' is in a shortened version, taken from the booklet for the remastered CD. Moreover, the cover was printed on thin cardboard. That’s a really poorly released LP.


⸤ HOW WE LISTENED The listening session was carried out in the HIGH FIDELITY reference system. LPs were listened to on the TRANSROTOR ALTO TMD with the MIYAJIMA LABORATORY DESTINY and RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC phonostage. I listened to the CDs on the AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF EDITION.

⸜ SOYKA, Acoustic, ZIC ZAC P1/91, LP (1991)
⸜ SOYKA, Acoustic, ZIC ZAC CD2/91, CD (1991)

⸜ SOYKA, Acoustic, Pomaton EMI 7243 5, CD (2002)
⸜ SOYKA, Acoustic, Warner Music Poland | Pomaton 01902 9 58572 8 8, LP (2017)



⸜ LONG PLAY ALL IT TAKES IS JUST A FEW MOMENTS, the first bars of the intro played on the piano in the One Hundred Years, to understand what the phenomenon of the Acoustic album is all about. It is in the precise rhythm, outstandingly planned both on the whole album and on individual tracks, but most of all in the extraordinary effortlessness of the performance.

The instruments have a large, long reverb, which draws attention not only with the piano, which often plays in the background, but also with brass, and above all with guitars. The presentation is focused on the axis rather than spread over the panorama. The in-depth perspective has been resolved quite well, thanks to which the recording has what I have already talked about, i.e. "breath". I would like to add that the double bass nicely anchors the recordings in low frequencies.

⸜ B-side of the original Long Play

As I said, the leitmotif of this album is rhythm. Yes, its advantage is also its acoustic sound, but for jazz it is a natural situation. So even if we assume that it is not quite a jazz album and that it is partly a pop album, we still perceive this kind of playing in an unforced and natural way. I think - thanks to the great rhythmic layout.

The Acoustic is not a tonally well-balanced album. It is also not tonally saturated. Sometimes, as in Take It Home, in moments of pounding sound, with the forte of wind instruments, piano, guitar, voice and drums, sometimes it even becomes flashy. And yet it is impossible to stop listening to this album. Why? - I think that excellent music and production combined with great compositions cause a kind of "amnesia" - we do not pay attention to these inconveniences.

The vocals are shown on this album sometimes closer, like in the opening One Hundred Years, and sometimes further away, with more reverb, like in Mr. Cool. Sojka's voice has a good volume, it sounds nice, although it does not have a clear body. Cud niepamięci begins with a short guitar entry, which is soon joined by a piano, and a moment later by marimba and other percussion instruments. Also in this song, sung in Polish, the voice was shown a bit further away, and backing vocals, also performed by Sojka, were added to the track with the basic vocal.

The double bass is interesting here, sometimes played with a bow, introducing an element of anxiety and uncertainty. It just so happens that on the LP it is the least dynamic track, but you can blame it for being the last one on the A side, i.e. in the place with the lowest linear velocity, and thus with the highest distortions.

I have already talked about it, but let me repeat it - Sojka's album is "wide" in the sense that, the instruments have incredible freedom, they are not constrained, they have no limits. This is partly due to long reverbs, but also an idea for the whole thing, which is beautifully obvious at the end of All About You. Perhaps it is helped by the raised tonal balance, with withdrawn mid-bass and lower midrange.

All subsequent recordings from the B side repeat the same idea. In turn, the width in the sense of a panorama is minimized, it could as well be a monophonic recording and only the reverbs expand the stage sideways. The double bass goes lower sometimes, for example in Tak jak w kinie, but this instrument is not supported by any other, even the kick drum sounds quite high.

⸜ COMPACT DISC I knew the Acoustic album from a CD, I didn't have the vinyl version. Comparing these two releases, I came to the conclusion that it was the right choice. The fact is that the digital version is simply better in every way. It has a cleaner sound, a lower tonal balance, and above all, its stereo is better. It is still an album in which the instruments are positioned rather on the listening axis, but not always and not exactly on the axis. You can hear the reverbs well with this version, and the drums from I Never Felt This Before hit hard and punctual.

⸜ An original Compact Disc release from 1991

However, this does not change what I have already said, namely that the recordings sound quite high and lack richness and density. The punctual double bass is not able to change this, because it does not have a longer sustain and assistance from the piano. Sojka's voice, usually placed quite far in the mix, and with a long reverb, has the same timbre as piano and guitar, i.e. quite bright.

Nevertheless, listening to this version of the album is highly enjoyable, and the subtleties, such as the marimba in Mr. Cool, come out much better here than on the LP. And there is the Cud niepamięci in the vinyl version massacred by the geometry of the disc and the vinyl itself - on CD it sounds deep, clean, spatial, simply phenomenal.


⸜ LONG PLAY Interestingly, the vinyl re-issue better accentuates the way of playing the piano that opens this album than the original one - with quickly muffled, short beats. Perhaps this is due to a better vinyl quality, which is simply less noisy. The reverbs accompanying the instruments are also clearer. However, Sojka's voice is less clear, less "present" and less dramatic.

The kick drum that opens I Never Felt This Before, as well as the accompanying point-hitting and muffled double bass, are stronger in this version. But they are not lower at all, as if they were just recorded like that. They have a fairly strong mid-range which produces a good rhythm but is also tiring at times. The presentation is cleaner than the original, I have no doubts about that.

⸜ A label of the 2017 Long Play

At the same time, however, it is also more hazy and withdrawn, lacking that natural attack, presence that was so intriguing in the original release. The re-issue slightly temper the loudness of the strong fragments, but - as it seems - using a stronger compression. This makes the album a bit boring. And, I will say it at my own risk, I think that it was prepared from digital material from which the original CD was made, or perhaps even remastered straight from it.

⸜ COMPACT DISC The 2002 digital re-issue was slightly deepened and cleared of a brightened upper midrange. But it no longer sounds as natural - paradoxically - as the original. The sound seems denser, but it is not. Both the instruments and Sojka's vocals are less clear and have a worse definition. What used to be an advantage, a part of the sound concept, is lost somewhere here.

You can hear that they tried to reduce noise, strong in the original CD version, sometimes even modulated by the basic sounds. Along with the noise, however, some music was also cut out, some information about space and attack. So there is no longer the sonority that the disc was opened with using the piano, and in return we get nothing.

⸜ The Compact Disc re-issue without „24-bit” marking

PLAY IT AGAIN, or w few final words

THE ACOUSTIC IS, in my opinion, the central album within the works of Stanisław Sojka. I derive this absolutely subjective assessment from several premises. An key word here is "breakthrough", used in relation to it by journalists and researchers, both in the context of the stylistics and the reception of the album. This is because it was an album that was perfectly balanced, well played and equally carefully produced. Moreover, it was a milestone in the career of a musician that has soared since then and is doing well to this day. As the aforementioned Lewenstein wrote:

Soyka’s Acoustic was a breakthrough album for this musician […]. While this is still a jazz album, it is also a sign of a departure from jazz as such and a slow drift towards pop music.

And it is precisely this transfer of the feeling of a classically educated musician who also plays jazz music to the field of popular music, which resulted in something much greater than other artists were able to suggest. You can hear the echoes of that album on the latest, intimate album by Soyka, the Muzyka i słowa Stanisław Soyka (2019), often listened to by my wife.

This album is still waiting for a critical, sensible, careful release. When I was talking on the phone with Stanisław Sojka, he said something that electrified me: “I have,” he said, “at home, original analog session tapes. I'm just looking at them”. As he added, he always included a clause in his contracts which, after a certain period of time, gave him the right to the tapes and to the material contained therein. The session tapes from the studio in Germany came back to him in the same way, with an album recorded for the RCA label.

⸜ Released in 2003, the live album Soyka Yanina & Kompania Live w Remoncie was recorded by Jacek Mastykar and includes several tracks from Acoustic, with Marcin Pospieszalski on bass and double bass (ESA ESA E -006, 2 x CD). Let me add that this is one of the first digital recordings made in Poland.

So we are in a situation unprecedented in Polish conditions, in which one could be tempted to remix the album, and not just remaster it, as it has been done for years with Kind of Blue by MILES DAVIS (from the 3-track master tape), or for some time with the recordings of KING CRIMSON and YES (Steven Wilson prepares remixes; more HERE) .

I think such a remix could be done really well, as proven by the new re-editions of iconic THE BEATLES albums - White Album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club (review HERE) and Abbey Road. 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (review HERE), released on the 50th anniversary of their premieres, produced by Giles Martin. It would be wonderful if the analog remaster and lacquer were prepared in Germany (Pallas or Pauler Acoustics) or in Great Britain (Abbey Road), and the album were released in a box on two 45 rpm discs!

For now, however, we must be happy with what we have. In the case of the Soyka a release, it's best to focus on, is the first edition of the Compact Disc. It offers the best balanced sound and captures the spirit of the recordings, with their spaciousness and effortlessness. The original vinyl is fairly bright, but offers a great "presence" of the musicians. In turn, the re-issues, both of them, are only a test, and not a real transfer of the sound of this album, recorded in 1990, into modern times.

Regardless of the format in which we listen to this music, we will have the opportunity to experience extraordinary production, great compositions and excellent performance. Acoustic is one of the best albums in the history of the Polish popular music.



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⸜ ADAM WOLAŃSKI, Słownik terminów muzyki rozrywkowej, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa 2000.
⸜ MACIEJ LEVENSTEIN, Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond, Warszawa 2016.
⸜ TONY ADAM, 76 Records: The ‘Polish Jazz’ Series (Polskie Nagrania Muza), self-publishing.


THE ALBUM series

№1 • STAN GETZ, Stan Getz w Polsce, Polskie Nagrania „Muza” | 1960
№2 • PORTER BAND, Helicopters, Pronit | 1980
№3 • VARIUS MANX, The Beginning, Polskie Nagrania „Muza” | 1991
№4 • KOMEDA QUINTET, Astigmatic, Polskie Nagrania „Muza” | 1966
№5 • 2 PLUS 1, Blue Lights Of Pasadena (Disco Version), Autobahn Musik Produktion GmbH/Express | JAPAN | 1981
№6 • HELMUT NADOLSKI, Meditation/Medytacje, LP, Veriton Records SXV-786 | 1974
№7 • ABRAXAS, 99, Metal Mind Productions MMP CD 0102 | MMP CD 0103 | 1981