Being sought after for years as a producer for other artists and as a composer and keyboardist for his own bands, he put his solo work on hold. In between all these activities, "Latarnik" was emerging slowly in Marek's head. Under his new alias, along with the Pakistani band Jaubi, he recorded one of the most important albums of 2021, Nafs at Peace, recognised by Pitchfork, The Guardian, DownBeat and Bandcamp.
Latarnik, repeatedly awarded in Jazz Forum magazine's polls as Poland's greatest synth virtuoso, decided to reveal himself to listeners from a completely different angle. Influenced by the sound of solo recordings by Thelonious Monk, Ahmad Jamal, McCoy Tyner and Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, he gave up electronics in order to record (in an intimate way) a debut album commemorating his great-grandmother, using a hundred-year-old Steinway & Sons grand piano and analogue tape.
The encounter with the main character begins in Maradtken (now Maradki), a place hard to find on the map, yet offering a very interesting story of remembrance and passing. In the early Iron Age a fortified settlement built by the people of the West Baltic Barrow culture was located there and it was bustling with life for many more centuries. The village was partially destroyed in the 18th century after a cholera cemetery had been established there. Around 1800, on a small hill a remarkable mill was built that remained a focal point of residents' life up until the outbreak of the Second World War.
Marianna was Masurian. She was born in 1898, under Prussian rule, into a Polish- and German-speaking family. She spent her youth among Evangelicals being a devout Catholic herself, at the same time practicing traditional folk rites. She could cure people, she collected herbs, prepared potions and cast spells against illnesses. She had her own philosophy of life based on folk wisdom, which constituted a decalogue of her own, but she also relied on the extraordinary protection of the "Most Holy Mother of God". Marianna passed away at the age of 88, shortly before Marek was born. He only knew her from family stories which he then encapsulated in the emotional piano compositions on the album. Marianna is no longer with us, nor is the wooden mill in Maradki. In spite of this, the remembrance and peculiar recipes for life live on in the family, just as the afterimages of history in the old photographs from Maradtken have survived. Her story is universal: one of identity and wandering, of terror, the trauma of war, and perpetual scarcity. It is the story of an entire generation to which Marianna belonged passed on to us by our grandparents.