About AWA

AWA is dedicated to my brothers: Marcin who sadly won’t get to hear this and Michał who is my most favourite person to talk to. Extra special thanks to Catherine who is my beacon, period.

AWA CD front cover
AWA CD front cover

A soundtrack for a film yet to be made, it portrays the awe and wonder of experiencing an utterly unfamiliar nature and culture, for the very first time.

The compositions on the album reflect the strong influences in Maciek’s life. AWA, ‘river’ in Te Reo Maōri, was inspired by the three great rivers, that became natural anchors at differing times in Maciek’s life: Vistula, Thames and Waikato. The album developed out of the unequalled natural beauty of Aotearoa New Zealand and its indigenous Maōri culture.

Written, performed and produced by Maciek Hrybowicz, a Polish guitarist living in New Zealand. Maciek was born, grew up and learned his trade in Krakow, Poland. He moved to London age 21 where he worked as a professional musician, composer and producer on several jazz, blues and experimental albums, as well as TV writing credits to his name. In 2014 he moved across the world to Hamilton, New Zealand where he now lives with his wife and writes, performs and produces albums for other artists as well as his own.

AWA was created with the help of musicians from across the world: Aotearoa – New Zealand, Italy, Poland, UK, Uruguay and USA:

  • Maciek Hrybowicz – electric and acoustic guitars, programming 
  • Caylen Crawford – arrangements, keyboards, electric bass on Fantalia & Blindside Flank, electric guitar on Pahiatua
  • Noel Kaa Reid – percussion
  • Alberto Santarelli – double bass
  • Andrew Hewat – drums
  • Grant Mason – trumpet and flugelhorn
  • Andrew Blake – soprano & baritone sax, flute on Fantalia
  • Artur Dutkiewicz – piano on Blindside Flank
  • Elizabeth Gray – voice and kōauau on Mink Hollow, pūkāea on Kāwhia Hot Water, also Karanga (female call) on Kāwhia Hot Water
  • Rob Hughes – soprano & tenor sax on Gdańsk
  • Carlos Pla – electric bass on Kanikani Kiwi
  • Hinemoa Pohatu – voice on Gdańsk
  • Te Aturangi Stewart – Karakia (chant) on Kāwhia Hot Water, voice on Mink Hollow

This is Maciek’s take on each composition on AWA:

Kanikani Kiwi – I had the funky tune in my head for a long time but never a good enough reason to finish it. After seeing a documentary about kiwi birds, it felt a perfect visual match of this lovely flightless, jumping, dancing bird to the odd staccato theme of the tune. Carlos Pla guesting on bass.

Kawhia Hot Water – I was stunned when I went to the Kawhia ocean beach for the first time. The ocean waves on the one side and the mountains on the other, with a long sandy expanse, was breath-taking and really inspiring. So, I thought of a family day-trip to the beach starting early in the morning with walking across the dunes. Then an afternoon playing in the sand and waves and then a sad/wistful trip home after a glorious fun day. So, I tried to reflect those 3 moments in that extended composition.

Cath’s Song – It’s simply a love song to my lovely wife Cath.

Fantailia – Written in London with my wind-playing friend Andrew Blake (who also played the sax on it), originally for a documentary, but for some reasons it did not get included. It seems to describe beautifully the cheeky, confrontations with a New Zealand fantail bird we had on many walks in the bush.

Gdańsk – I have a lot of connections with the port city of Gdańsk in Poland. My late father lived there. It is also an estuary of the Vistula river, which also goes through Kraków 600 km further south, where I was born and grew up. Crucially this is the birth-place of Solidarity, a movement which ultimately ended the Soviet rule. The tune embodies the sense of tension and emotion I have when I think of Gdańsk. My London friend Rob Hughes contributed the lovely sax.

Pahiatua – A short Polish folk tune inspired jazzy theme. Pahiatua is the village where Polish refugees settled in 1944 after being warmly welcomed by the Kiwis disembarking off the ship from Iran.

Mink Hollow – This one is about the feeling I had when Cath and I walked in the bush just after we arrived in New Zealand. It was wet, dark and spookily unfamiliar.

Mr Ponsonby – A lovely Saturday afternoon walk in sunny Auckland district of Ponsonby watching people eating tasty salads and drinking soy lattes.

Blindside Flank – I really enjoy the sense of excitement the Kiwis feel about the game of rugby too. I do too, though I still don’t quite get the rules of the game. I tried to portray a sense of urgency and combative nature of the game. Featuring Artur Dutkiewicz on piano.

Karakia (in Kāwhia Hot Water)

This karakia is used to clear the way of any ill omens attached to the person, their intentions, their path and their destination. It also encourages one to overcome any barriers or obstacles on their journey by seeking inner-power, inner-wisdom and inner-peace so the experience may be pleasant.

Maiea te putanga o tēnei tauira!
He tuku pūmotomoto
nō Rehua Ariki
ki a hine, ki a tama
te waka ka hūra!
Hiki tai, e! Hiki tai, e, hā!

Tēnei taku waka kurawāwawawai
nō te wai ā mai o Tahuna-ā-Tara
nō raro nei koe taku Māreikura
nō runga rā koe e taku Whatukura
He putanga ariki
Ka whakawhiti te rā
Hiki tai, e! Hiki tai, e, hā!

Behold this spirit!
Enlightenment embodied,
from Rehua the Procreator
‘tis woman, ‘tis man
Clear is my journey
‘pon the winds of Tāwhiri
Forward! Propel over the waves!

Rise my canoe
Vessel of the ages
from mother below (earth)
from father above (heavens)
A noble birth;
One to champion all else
Forward! To your destiny

Karanga (in Kāwhia Hot Water)

This karanga welcomes the visitor to Kāwhia and makes reference to a saying accustomed by the history of the area, ‘Kāwhia Tāngata, Kāwhia Kai, Kāwhia Moana’. 

Ruia Tāwhiri
Ngā tai o te uru e
Ki Kāwhia Tāngata
Ki Kāwhia Kai
Ki Kāwhia Moana e

Tāwhirimātea (god of wind) heed my words:
call on the western tides to welcome my guests
to Kāwhia the commune
to Kāwhia the provider
to Kāwhia the source of life

AWA Credits:

All compositions by Maciek Hrybowicz, except Fantalia by Maciek Hrybowicz and Andrew Blake. All compositions copyright control.

Karanga by Elizabeth Gray and Te Aturangi Stewart; Karakia by Te Aturangi Stewart

Produced by Maciek Hrybowicz

Recorded at The Porch Recording Studio in Hamilton, Aoteaora
Engineered by Regan John McKinnon

Cover artwork Sensualité au Végétal 1999 oil on canvas by Bogdan Korczowski
Album cover by Daniela Catucci / Photography by Mark Hamilton

AWA Copyright ©2019 Maciek Hrybowicz