Andrew Wasylyk’s work has been marked by a defined sense of place – Dundee, the Tay Estuary, and the city’s movement from urban to rural – and a compositional curiosity that moves from modern classical piano sketches through to a jazz interest, alongside the odd theremin or two.
‘Balgay Hill: Morning In Magnolia’ was largely constructed during 2020, when the composer – real name Andrew Mitchell – would indulge in lengthy walks around the titular area. Reconnecting with himself amid turbulent times, his meditative strolls give rise to some of his most beautiful work to date, matching an overtly pretty, bucolic palette to some subtly daring twists and turns.
‘Blossomless #2’ opens with found sounds, practically inviting you to wander down a solitary path. ‘Through The Rose Window’ nods towards the way Boards Of Canada or even Bibio treat guitars, a kind of dream-like repose in which colours flutter by. ‘Magpie Spring’ has a joyous, uplifting side to it, it’s jaunty rhythm carrying a self-deprecating quality.
‘Sun Caught Cloud Like The Belly Of A Cat’ lives up to its gorgeous title, while ‘Avril Hydrangeas’ is a blissful ambient piece with some almost percussive notes of piano. If at times the textural shifts can be difficult to discern – as ever, Wasylyk’s work requires multiple listens – then wider palettes such as the jazz-soaked ‘Western Necropolis Twilight’ or the flute-enabled ‘Smiling School For Calvinists’ offer more rounded, fleshed out examples of musical painting.
It’s the Impressionist elements of ‘Balgay Hill’ that resonate most deeply, however. Ending with the Delia Derbyshire elements meets brass band flourishes of ‘The Morning Of Magnolia Light’, this is a superbly impressive piece of auditory depiction. If you close your eyes, you can practically find yourself forest bathing in Scotland’s sunniest city.
Words: Robin Murray
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