Glenn Murawski – Existential Chambers Volume 2 – Album Review
If his online discography didn’t prove it to you already with the steady stream of SEVEN records released online in 2019 alone, Glenn’s own words would make it clear: “This year in general has been my most productive music-wise, bar none.” From the looks & sounds of things, not just his year – but ANY artist’s year for that matter – we’re barely past the halfway mark of 2019 and this dude has been crushing it from the beginning of January on-forward at an incredible pace. Sure, some of these records are built of past recordings, like what we experienced in the last two reviews we did on Murawski’s music when checking out Revisions & Remasters Volume 1 & Revisions & Remasters Volume 2 about a month ago; but note the titles…it’s not like he’s been slackin’ – he’s been refining the old material at the same time, shining it up for us, and making it new again. From performance to production, the man puts in the work…ain’t no doubt about that at all…I’ve been fascinated by this guy’s music from what I’ve already heard personally…and this album was absolutely no exception to the incredible standards & innovative ideas he’s revealed to us before. As advertised, this record is built of chamber music for sure – which makes it instantly deliver entirely different vibes than what I’ve heard from him in my own experiences, & also furthers the story of Murawski’s music from the earliest release of 2019 with the original volume. In the two records I’ve heard myself so far, I already know far better than to question the quality of the ideas that would come at me this time around…Glenn’s plenty proven himself to me when it comes to his musicianship, execution, passion, and renewed dedication to the art all-around. I knew there was a solid chance I’d enjoy Existential Chambers Volume 2…I just didn’t have a clue exactly how much!
Not gonna lie to you…he might have just gone and exceeded expectations yet again here somehow.
So…where I’m at here…is I’ve just finished yet another spin through Existential Chambers Volume 2 – and for real, unless my ears are broken, this guy is pretty much relentlessly amazing. Like, the ending of this record is SO STRONG that every time I got to the final seconds of this short record, it became an instant-repeat scenario, and I’d be right back into song one, “Deadened” all over again, happily lost in this incredibly enticing mix of enchanting & curious sound that Glenn’s created. What a way to open a record! I know I started here with dessert first by talking about the ending, but the beginning is equally remarkable…every bit as subtle as it is grippingly-intense at the same exact time. “Deadened” is the longest cut you’ll find on Existential Chambers Volume 2 at just ten-seconds shy of five-minutes – Glenn could easily double the length of basically anything I’ve heard from him and I’d never get bored – he shows noteworthy & professional restraint by making these songs at an accessible length for all to listen. Proving to be a master of the reveal, “Deadened” is structured boldly, beautifully, and brilliantly to move in sleek, melodic, and mysterious ways that add & subtract pieces of the instrumentation in stunning & sly transitions throughout this highly-impressive first impression of Existential Chambers Volume 2. From the sparkling music-box-like melody that starts the song, to the vibrant intensity that the strings bring in right afterwards, to the atmospheric warmth & comfort you’ll find in the contrast of this exceptional mix of haunting beauty…”Deadened” is flawless perfection from moment one, right to its very end – and with the genuine interest it creates in our ears, makes for an outstanding beginning to this new record that’s sure to pull people in easily to listen to the rest of these captivating instrumentals.
“Good Night” gently takes over, sweetly glowing with string sounds easing you in to the second tune. Gorgeously-played and laced with truly thought-provoking structure & sound that’ll set you adrift into your mind…I love songs like this that have the ability to take us somewhere else mentally. While it’s a different song altogether from something like “New Orleans Instrumental No. 1” on R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People – “Good Night” on Existential Chambers Volume 2 largely serves a much similar purpose in providing you with a pensive moment where the music seems to contemplate life just as much as YOU will while you listen. The lead violin that ends up in the mix around the 1:35-ish mark adds exquisite melody overtop of what’s already been remarkably relaxing & soul-soothing to begin with; “Good Night” is more proof of Glenn’s reliable ear for sound & songwriting chops as he reveals the sweetness & heart of this tune at a stunning pace, adorned with the immaculate tones & textures he’s discovered here. I can get behind the concept that some people out there have to be in a certain mood themselves to enjoy a record like Existential Chambers Volume 2 – but believe me, whenever that mood does strike ya, you’ll be more than happy to have this around. Tracks like “Good Night” speak to you in ways that music in words never could…and if you’re looking to chill-out with your own thoughts, there’d be no better company or soundtrack you could provide yourself with. Every time I heard “Good Night” on repeat, I found myself appreciating it more – & by this point here, I’m convinced it’s a spectacular gem.
There’s a good chance that “Lucid” will prove to be the most challenging tune for listeners to hang onto when it comes to grasping these songs on Existential Chambers Volume 2. Depending on HOW you listen to music and how you’re able to break it down in your mind or put it together – people are bound to experience this cut in several different ways. If you’ve ever spent time with the band Tortoise, you’ll find some similarities here in the bounciness of main melody-line, and of course the shifting orchestral instrumentation surrounding it; ultimately, “Lucid” is quite a progressive tune for an under three-minute song. Additions like the flute to this particular song, are 100% golden – that was also another element that worked incredibly well…and that transition with just a hint more low-end around the 1:45 was excellent – there’s a lot of greatness within “Lucid” that will provide many out there with the innovative combination of sound their ears are looking for. For the others out there…the people looking for something a bit more straight-ahead – the challenge that “Lucid” presents, is that there is an argument to be made here that Glenn’s really rocking two songs inside of one; at times that’s gonna feel impressively natural & like it all fits…at others, this cut can sound like it’s going in two directions at once. Even for me personally, there’s a bit of an oil & water effect at times here…maybe not so much necessarily like the two don’t mix, so much as you can completely hear where the line between the two parts is drawn. There’s risk in that of course, some people will identify & engage with one part more than the other perhaps, or feel that the balance between the ideas is too widespread & experimental for them, even with the noteworthy of smooth, endearing, and enticing sound that’s added into the mix here. But there’s risk in all art if you’re making it right…I’d imagine there could easily be just as many people out there like myself that will appreciate the complexity that exists within the unique framework of “Lucid” and how Glenn challenges convention through composition.
Existential Chambers Volume 2 continues on with its shortest song, “Life’s Folly,” weighing-in at ten-seconds shy of a full two-minutes. There’s a quaint warmth you’ll find at the heart of this tiny tune that’ll definitely help it stand out enough, despite its short length…between what sounds like a synth-organ perhaps, some wind instrumentation, & really clever strings, Glenn latches onto a genuine song filled brilliantly with both light & dark in equal doses, ultimately creating another really ear-catching & authentically interesting moment in time. Like I’ve been tellin’ ya, he’s got a reliable ability to create music that will take your mind elsewhere, right out of your day or whatever you’re doing, and transport you into a world of sound that could end up taking you verifiably anywhere at all…and you never really know where that’ll be. Surprise is one of the best things about music of any kind, and Glenn consistently uses that to his advantage with the versatility of songs like “Life’s Folly” and a short set of tunes that all stay cohesive to the overall atmosphere & aura flowing through Existential Chambers Volume 2, but with each song also delivering its own identifiable idea different from the last you’d hear right before it.
I grew up on piano…that’s likely always going to be the instrument that’ll grab my attention the quickest…and usually, like in the case of “A Leap Of Faith,” the more sparse the atmosphere, the more space to let it shine, the more I’m bound to never want to stop listening. Take the way it begins for example – it’s just the piano alone at the start of “A Leap Of Faith” and I probably would have sat for that & been highly-satisfied, even if that’s all the song ever ended up doing. It’s not of course – Glenn’s always got a few more ideas up his sleeve and twists for you along the way – but he will return to the solo-piano to guide this song home to victory at the end as well. The strength of those initial chords as he heads just past the first twenty-five seconds make a huge impact, as does the violin on the way into the first minute…”A Leap Of Faith” continues to delicately dazzle, adding in more layers of string sounds in about thirty-seconds later down the road and maximizing the beauty you’ll find in this combination. He’ll go on to add in some significant low-end, and eventually some organs into the mix as well – which may/may-not have been one step too far…I can see that last addition being a more polarizing one for listeners out there – BUT…you can’t argue the fact that the burst of sound towards the end sets the final moments of isolated solo-piano up perfectly to make the mesmerizing & enchanting melody hit home as “A Leap Of Faith” finishes up. For the vast majority of this song, you get an inarguably exquisite set of sounds that’ll definitely impress you with its delicate-but-bold demeanor…the piano remains the star of the show here for me on this particular track, but it also feels designed to be that way naturally…the strong hooks of Murawski’s melodies & music get a solid and deserved moment in the spotlight here.
Ending Existential Chambers Volume 2 with “Invocations,” Glenn finishes on another highlight, once again showing how impressive his focus can be when he’s locked onto a powerful moment like this, and finding such remarkable ways to shift the sound inside of the lines without coloring outside of’em. You know what I mean? He’ll provide remarkable depth to the emotion & textures of sound that run through “Invocations” – but he never does too far in any direction or creates any kind of jarring effect as he smoothly glides throughout this last song. Essentially, it starts graceful and it stays that way – the instrumentation & different sounds of “Invocations” will flow in & out as the song plays on of course, but each moment provides a new spark of inspiration for the melody & another memorable moment. At the core of “Invocations,” this atmosphere is boldly stoic for as subtle as it is…there’s a gentle backbone of this entire song that’s as strong as steel for as fragile as the sound may appear at times – make no mistake, Murawski’s ending this new record on another experience that makes an impact. Key additions like just past the first-minute with the strings providing an exceptionally comforting glow behind the piano, and the more noticeable shift in direction a minute later on also makes for a highlight moment of its own – Glenn Murawski wraps up Existential Chambers Volume 2 with a beautiful mix of space & sound that moves at a pensive-yet-passionate pace & builds to a perfect finale to this record.
And then of course, we repeat the experience, just like I mentioned at the beginning of this review…and run straight into the beauty found within “Deadened.” You gotta dig déjà vu that sounds like this does.
Find more music by Glenn Murawski at his Bandcamp page here: https://glennmurawski.bandcamp.com/music
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