When we come across music with blasting emotion and beauty, we cannot stop thinking about it, we become infatuated and want to experience it over and over again, playing it on repeat until the songs are memorised. When we were introduced to Andrew Wasylyk, (alias of Scottish born artist Andrew Mitchell) we knew this review would be easy.
What you notice in his music is not only the beauty of the compositions but the sheer art in his vision. He takes inspiration from the landscapes he knows best in Scotland, but also is directly influenced by the legacy and heritage of buildings around these environments- this is what sets him apart from his musical peers
For us personally, we adore music which reflects on the natural environment, which captures the sheer power of what it can hold (such as his album Balgay Hill: Morning In Magnolia - 2021). His past works have represented the outer beauty of these areas, the theme of solitude and reflection is evident, and we fell head over heels for his use of multi-instruments and how he brings contemporary elements to all of his music.
With his most recent album release, Hearing The Water Before Seeing The Falls, I was taken aback by how mature and serious it felt and sounded, I was crying within moments. Three pieces of this LP are inspired directly by Thomas Joshua Cooper's exhibition - The Worlds Edge which is captivating in itself. Wasylyk also used string arrangements from Perth based multi-instrumentalist and composer Pete Harvey in a few of the songs, which are insanely breathtaking and works tremendously well with Andrew's vision.
Wasylyk and Cooper travelled to Inchcolm Island in the Firth of Forth, venturing into the art with a specific focal point of Thomas' three decades of travel across five continents. With a hard focus on the impact of climate change, the artists work focuses on extreme environments around the Atlantic Ocean (most will be submerged in water within 35 years). you can view his work at the National Galleries Scotland.
The three songs: The life of time (featuring words from Cooper) , Hearing The Water Before Seeing The Falls & Truant In Gossamer reflect on the series of photographs captured during their time together:
The whimsical and powerful symbolism of the nautical is most profoundly heard in “Hearing The Water Before Seeing The Falls" taking inspiration from TJC's motif of departure, Wasylyk's subtle use of bells coupled with Pete Harvey's Strings is mystical and emotional, with the fleeting feeling of longing a past which was never yours lingers in your ears.
The use of looping techniques, long drawn out saxophone solos and sweeping piano melodies is what hooked me. It's wonderfully transcendental as you submerge yourself into the new and unknown of his music. Hesitancy is there, but only a tad in feeling, and yet you are constantly intrigued into where the next step of the musical journey will take you.
His newest album, I felt, is more powerful in terms of expression as it feels more personal, candid even. The entire album flows fantastically, from he start with "Dreamt In The Current Of Leafless Winter" where he opens soft and airy, as movement of the song ebbs and weaves with the use of classical and contemporary structures. This is prominent throughout the entire album. He progresses to more in depth and introspective work which is seen in "Years Beneath A Yarrow Moon", where the crescendo hits you hard as it violently stirs emotions. His music is wonderfully powerful, it lifts you high at points and lets you crash back to reality which I personally felt in "Truant In Gossamer". This song in particular flung an image into my head; A figure skater spinning constantly, morphing into different shapes and sizes all for the big finale. Bang. The end leaving you wanting more. A true operatic soliloquy all the way through this album which I believe can is only achieved when you can unlock your own inner self. That is what music is about.
You need not know much about classical compositions to enjoy the genre, yet with efficient mediums and motifs as Andrew uses, it opens up the artistic door for more people to feel involved and moved. Especially combined with the artwork of Cooper in three of the songs within this LP, it adds an extra depth which you do not see in other musical genres: the two pairs well.
Every single push of the piano key is like leaving a footprint the sand, a glimpse into a fading past but highlighting the possibility of something amazing to happen is on the horizon. It's incredibly reflective, yet clear in terms of the what could be. This is best seen in ''Dusk above Delphinium Dew'' where we hear some poignant words from artist TJC on departure and fate. The use of a looming, haunting string section creates a misty scene in your head, in which the nautical theme of the Scottish coastline is stark and intense. You feel instantly lost in the web of sounds, mesmerised by its structure.
I thoroughly enjoyed the use of field recordings in all his work, bringing a touch of reality to the whimsically dream like music he creates. Jung would appreciate. Listening to his music, One can immediately get swept away which is what I personally seek out. I do not play any classical instrument but I can proudly say I value the inner core of it. Within Wasylyk's work. you feel his inner âme come to life, a glimpse into his own world through a spyglass.
All-in-all, Andrew Wasylyks' music is smooth, easy and soulful with a tang of jazz to make you feel at home. A combination of meaningful drifts which feel dreamy and light, like a decadent, light dessert for the ears. Throughout the entire album I couldn't help but feel like I was let into an intimate world, which only few should have access to. The personal nature of Wasylyk's music brings tears to your eyes and a fluttering feeling in the heart which you only get with a first kiss. Romantically intertwined with body and soul, past and present and the excitement or sadness with what is to come is prevalent. The juxtaposition of all these feelings, mediums and motifs create and explosive and colourful album which I would love to hear live.
Live Review - Halle St. Michael's, MCR.
Tucked away in the heart of stoney Ancoats you will find a little red door which opens up to the Halle St. Michaels, a venue which is tucked away in the backstreets of old Manchester. the atmosphere was ambient and soft, the overall energy was relaxing and so I sat down with a sweet smile on my face. The pleasant lighting warmed me as the people trickled into the venue and took their seats, the place filled up pretty quick. Instantly noticing a mixture of classical sommeliers and musicians alike, it felt like a nice change against the heavy electronic nights which I'm used to.
First up was Eyes Of Others: The pair from Scotland delivered a quirkily synthy gig which was uniquely fun, upbeat and poetic. With the use of different musical structures and a great falsetto, he ignited the room and accepted a loud applause which echoed perfectly around. I enjoyed the humour involved and the lighthearted energy which flowed out from his work, they are definitely one to see live to get the full experience of their music.
As Andrew came on the silence was sudden, people listened intently as he started to flow through his works and transform the venue into a magical wonderland. Accompanied by violinists, trumpet, bass and guitar, the whole ensemble played beautifully, building on one another in harmony which was delightful to experience live. Songs from albums past and new like Balgay Hill" and “Hearing The Water Before Seeing The Falls" (see review) with a few in between, people listened intently, posed perfectly on the edge of their seat. Throughout the set he shared poignant stories on why and how he creates his compositions, giving us as the listener a chance to be taken through Wasylyk's own garden of inspiration and magic.
Coupled with the video projections, it was an immersive experience that was designed to envelope your soul, leaving you blissfully at peace; it was Wasylyk's journey and we were merely followers. Although his UK tour is now over, you can still experience the magic of the evening by listening to his full album here.
Let us know what you think about Wasylyk's music, does it captivate you as it does for us?