Małe Instrumenty (“Small Instruments” in Polish) played a packed concert in the basement of Alchemia one Thursday evening in April. Dressed completely in black, the six members of the band could easily have been musicians from the Krakow Philharmonic. But instead of each bearing a Stradivarius, the musicians towered over tables overrun completely by, well – small instruments.
Małe Instrumenty describe themselves as a “band looking for new sounds using unique instruments.” The idea of the band, and hence the name, is that they perform playing only on tiny instruments. While a majority of their notes are derived from children’s toys or real instruments sized for children (including a shiny red drum set that, while made for a 10 year old, looks absurdly comical when presided over by a grown man), they also play a variety of objects never intended for musical use. Their philosophy seems to be, if it makes a sound and is small – use it!
As the band played, it was easy to see that they were greatly enjoying what they’re doing, and it’s hard not to catch yourself grinning as you watch. But it’s not a matter of amateurs playing around with toys; a trained ear can spot the fact that they are professional musicians, undoubtedly with years of training, and have decided to use their talents to create something very original in Poland. The band, consisting of Maciek Baczyk, Jedrek Kuziela, Maciek Markowski, Tomek Orszulak, Marcin Ozog and Pawel Romanczuk, was constantly switching between the many instruments and other gadgets in front of them, playing everything from bells to lutes and melodicas to tiny versions of electric guitars and bass, as well as a variety of percussion instruments. The material that night ranged from small instrument renderings of classical pieces, to a couple of original pieces composed by one of the members, to an incredibly amusing cover version of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ classic “Breaking the Girl,” an instant crowd-pleaser. Be sure to catch them next time they’re in town, as a show this entertaining and musically pleasing is rare, even in Krakow.