Moskwa – Wiem (Session 1987) EP
Four excellent songs recorded in 1987 by one of Poland's most iconic punk bands.
Moskwa (the Slavic word for Moscow) are a Polish punk band formed around 1983 in then heavily industrialized working class town of Łódź. I really can’t tell you how influential they have been to entire generations of punks in Poland. All I know is, it’s a lot.
In the early days, their sound was a rough and tumble, primitive form of punk descending from The Exploited, GBH, and Discharge line of thought. As with many other bands from the Eastern Bloc in the ’80s, Moskwa were playing in an atmosphere of constant tension with the authorities and their Security Forces (both official and hidden ones). Still the band managed to play openly on numerous occasions, including the famous FMR Jarocin, one of the biggest and most important festivals of alternative music in the Warsaw Pact countries. And despite the band’s set at Jarocin ’84 being interrupted by the festival’s artistic director, Moskwa’s (often censored to M.kwa or M-kwa on posters) popularity skyrocketed in the Polish rock underground.
In 1986, Moskwa’s participation in Jarocin ’86 attracted the interest of the BBC. The band was featured in the movie My Blood, Your Blood (directed by Andrzej Kostenko), where their frontman Paweł “Guma” Gumola was interviewed about his life as a punk-rocker in Poland and the harsh realities of living in the Eastern Bloc. The movie also featured a live performance of Moskwa’s iconic song “Nigdy!” (Never) from the same festival.
In 1987, a new chapter in Moskwa’s history began. Many of the former band members took a different path. The band was now based in the capital Warsaw and joined by Maleo (of the bands Kultura and Izrael) and Tomasz “Gogo Szulc” Kożuchowski (TZN-Xenna, Brygada Kryzys, Dexapolcort-A, Tilt, and the famous Armia). The band’s goal at the time was to record and release their self-titled vinyl LP as they didn’t manage to do so in their 1983-1986 incarnation. In early 1987, however, just before their LP sessions, Moskwa recorded four songs (“Wiem”, “Ja”, “Słyszę”, and “Słowo”) to be aired on Rozgłośnia Harcerska’s radio station. The recordings were done in a studio at the Spatif club in Łódź.
This Spatif session in 1987 marked a significant turn in Moskwa’s musical and lyrical direction as they abandoned the “No Future” slogans and raw British-influenced sound in favour of a more melodic and personal approach. It didn’t appeal much to the hardcore punk crowd at the time. After releasing the LP in 1989, the band was booed and thrown eggs on stage for being sell-outs. These four unreleased recordings from the Spatif session in 1987, however, are still among the most interesting material to come out of this legendary band and a harbinger for a lot of changes, both in the political and music landscape in Poland and Eastern Europe.
Thanks to Warsaw Pact Records (a side project of Refuse Records, focusing specifically on out-of-print and unreleased Polish material from the ’80s) the whole Spatif session was released for a first time on a seven-inch vinyl 30 years later, in 2017. The one that I got however, is a second pressing from 2019 with an alternative cover. It’s a great piece of hardcore punk history and I’m really glad being able to listen to this on vinyl.