the story
yerba mate

Akademia Muzyczna 2001

Yerba i Huun-Huur-Tu




Coming back from long journeys, of different type, often not merely geographical, three guys met, somewhere on the outskirts of a big city, picked up their funny and awkward instruments and began to play. It was everything but an incident...They were sipping yerba mate to stay awake and play more. It worked...Yerba was truly the Mater of invention.
From the very beginning there was this notion that the outcome of the event was quite unlike anything they had previously heard.
Soon they had their first chance to record their music in an empty concert hall of the Warsaw Music Academy. That was spooky. All those empty chairs and the four of them Bart (cello), Cierlik (al-`ud), Raf (saz, baglama) and Seba( sopilka, bass recorder).


As you can see from the photos there is one thing missing in our hitherto quartet...drums. Well, we've always thought that it would cool to have tabla, a symbol of perfection in the world of percussion. Then again for some pieces a gentle bendir seamed more suitable. For the first rehearsal Hubert came with both. My beloved wife Ania added some polish-roots power on suka biłgorajska ( or rather kocucka, as those-who-know-best suggest). Later we found out that there is nothing like a didgeridoo to accompany the throat overtone chant, hence Luka teamed up. We kept on drinking lots of yerba mate.

In 2002 Yerba Mater began to perform life in Poland playing at different kinds of folk festivals, refugees days, theatres, museums etc. They play almost only their own compositions, improvisation and maybe two folk tunes to ease the tension. The thing they played was always very different from everything else that was played. Some people were a bit suspicious as it might have sounded a bit Moorish, and that wasn't exactly the best time for anything with the sign of the Crescent on.

We had a good laugh at such notions, and we even called one of our tunes Jihad, and another one Black Afghan, we don't play them to often nowadays but you may listen to one of them live in the music section of the site. It is a fine example of the early period o Y.M.
The truth is that we seldom really fit the occasion. Once on a folk festival somewhere by eastern boarder, we played almost at the end of the party. Drunken Byelorussians simply couldn't stand our broken rhythms and heathenish sound. They were shouting at us to play "Byeliye Rozy" a famous Russian pop song, on which Cierlik performed a 3 minute wild solo alap (intro) on `ud. That must have hurt ( them). But otherwise it was a great gig.

In October Y. M. gave over seventy concerts together with lectures on Indian classical music in primary and secondary schools. Directly on their way back from the last one they recorded a sort of they first album - Meditation. The title defines the music. It was supposed to be added to aspirin or some magazine for housewives, fortunately the poor women were speared falling into a trans upon a frying saucepan. The CD is barely available although quite interesting and not merely for the colorful cover by Luka.


One of the best things that happened in this year was the Silent Movies Festival. We were chosen to perform music for one of the first animations, filmed by a French artist Emil Cohl in 1910-1916. Some precious copy of the long lost films had beeen found in the Archives of Polish Cinematography. That was a wonderful work, the "cartoons" were really psychedelic, and we loved playing music while watching the huge screen.

O6.04.03 - Y.M won the 1st Prize on the biggest folk festival in Poland "Nowa Tradycja" organized by Polish Radio. Some members begin to learn their craft from the heroes of Polish ethnic music scene Maria and Jerzy Pomianowski. Y.M also has a chance to meet and organize a workshop with world famous Huun-Huurtu. Later that year they recorded music for a movie "Stara Ba¶ń" based on the an legend old about evil King Popiel who for his cruelty and greed was eaten by mice.

We wanted to confront our music with the trendiest cast of people - the clubbers. We started playing chill-outs for bhangra parties - Masala Soundsystem. It came as a relief when we found out that you actually can dance to our music. In 2004 they recorded a CD with us, together with all kinds of DJ, scratchers and rappers. On the other side we played on the International Early Music Festival in Jarosław.

In 2004 Yerba Mater attend more workshops on overtone singing from Sergey Charkov and his lovely daughter. In the summer they perform in Ukraine on Sheshory Festival in the Carpathians and later in Lviv.
In August a new album "Raga Praga" was released. If you are interested in purchase check the news page.