For one of the excellent Bandcamp Fridays, an ongoing initiative which gives the company’s share of any purchase within those 24 hours to the artist, I was scouting about for interesting things to try at the height of summer and found several folk whose ears I trust recommending the previous album by Scottish multi-instrumentalist Andrew Wasylyk. ‘The Paralian’ had passed me by previously but proved to be an excellent tip. Largely instrumental music which was built around a restored 19th century harp and a grand piano, it occupied a jazzy, ambient, bleepy, folky territory that was instantly appealing and ensured a keen interest in his subsequent release, ‘Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation’, which emerged in September.
This new set picks up where its predecessor left off and is music for burdened minds and frazzled souls. Wasylyk’s fondness for David Axelrod, Alice Coltrane and, notably, the remarkable Virginia Astley is worn lightly but endearingly across these pieces, which fill the room thanks to the exquisitely sensitive mastering. I am reminded of the King Creosote and Jon Hopkins collaborations, the melodic jazzy soundscapes of Bill Wells and the instrumental dexterity of Mark Hollis. The whole package is a delight, starting with the striking artwork before browsing the accompanying glossy book of photography.
While Wasylyk is joined by a variety of musicians to provide some strings and wind instrumentation, he takes care of the rest, including Mellotron, Moog, glockenspiel, Fender Rhodes and a selection of field recordings. The very best instrumental work is still overwhelmingly lyrical and such is the case here. ‘The Violet Hour’ paints images of sweeping autumnal views as the light retreats, the temperature drops and the darkening colours perish to the floor.
The almost macabre combination of the beat and piano part for ‘In Balgay Silhouettes’ is deliciously enigmatic, crying out for an incident in the gloaming to accompany. The promotional literature made clear the connection to Wasylyk’s native Eastern Scotland in these pieces and the knowledge helps when attempting to gain purchase on the vivid imagery conjured. ‘(Half-Light Of) The Cadmium Moon’ builds to a conclusion so intense it seems to send a strong breeze from the speakers along with the piercing instrumentation. It is stunning.
The whole record is one that repays repeated listens and which truly opened up after I neared double figures. Once the melodies were familiar, I found myself focusing much more on the specific parts, the layers and the consistent emotional impact of these special songs. As others recommended Wasylyk to me, I emphatically continue the chain.