Glenn Murawski – 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk

 Glenn Murawski – 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk

Glenn Murawski – 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk – EP Review

Here are some bets that you can make in this life, and the odds for you…so that you can make the best wagers you can.  Odds of winning the lottery?  Approximately one in fourteen-million, according to Google.  How about the odds of getting struck by lightning at random?  One out of a half-million.  Your odds increase slightly in a situation like say, going from minor league hockey to the majors – technically, it sounds like it’s about a one in four-thousand shot there, which really isn’t all that bad…it’s doable.  According to my weather app, there’s about a sixty percent chance of rain beating sunshine a week from today…that’s a fairly safe bet.  Roulette is nearly fifty/fifty more or less, if you’re playing black & red only.

But if you want a SURE bet…you’d wanna bet on Glenn Murawski making at least an album per month.  Then it’s just a 100% guaranteed, can’t lose situation…because deep down, you know it’s gonna happen.

I mean, this is the year he’s “slowing down” after all…cue the eye-roll.  Sure.  Let’s just say I peeked at his Bandcamp page…fully knowing that when I got there, I’d see yet ANOTHER release that would be squeezed in between the last time & this time, which of course, there was.  Why?  I told you – it’s a sure thing!  This guy couldn’t pull himself away from his music if he tried his hardest right now to do so; in my humble opinion Mr. Murawski, you’d be far better off just admitting this is the way things really are.

So…yeah…I’ve lost count at this point, we’ve reviewed a whole lot of Glenn Murawski’s music over this past year & a half…I’m sure if you’re a regular reader, you recognize the name from it being posted here at Glenn Murawski Magazine sleepingbagstudios many, many times.  Y’all think I just spit these word-things out huh?  Try writing about anything fifteen times or more without tripping all over yourself; then get back to me.  It ain’t easy, that much I can tell ya…no matter how much I like the guy’s music, it’s still a situation that always has me scrambling around for at least a word or two I probably haven’t used yet.

Unlike where that could potentially get real old real quick under most circumstances, Glenn tends to make it easier on a guy like me by taking on the occasional challenge from out yonder on the ol’ internet for the pure love of the game.  Generally speaking, from what I experienced the last time he did this particular kind of contest on the 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: The Elements and this new variation of it here, reborn as the 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk – this brings him a bit out of his comfort zone and into something new, which in turn keeps it fresh for me, so hey, right on I say, bring it on then sir!  Incidentally…if you somehow are not familiar with the name Glenn Murawski at this point in time, then understand the last 7-Days Of VGM Challenge he participated may or may-not have won him the prize there in that particular competition, but it did go on to be recognized here in our own top-ten of 2020.

In the case of 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk, there’s no doubt that this has brought Mr. Murawski outta his regular arena and into a new twist on his sound once more…by at least a little.  Not so far that anyone that’s been listening would think it didn’t still belong to the man we know & love, but enough so that you do feel the ambition, desire, and stretch towards something new for himself through this artistic challenge.  Something like “As Echoes Fade Into Darkness” meets us somewhat halfway I’d reckon; if you’ve heard as much as I have from this dude, you’d know it was him without question by the patterns & movements he chooses – but if this was say like, somewhere in your first five records of listening to Glenn’s tunes, you’d still hear a whole lot of all-new stuff in the mix here for ya.  For longtime fans like myself, the changes are a bit more slight at the start here…”As Echoes Fade Into Darkness” explores his hybrid style, where electro beats often meet orchestral and classical sounds.  What I honestly loved about this first cut was right there at the beginning – that P-H-A-T downward rip of rad electric sound slowing down and sliding us into the song as it begins to take off.  I have no real idea what causes it, but I sure like what I hear…it’s unique…and unless my ears are mistaken, it’ll remain with us throughout the entire song.  At some points along the way, it’s the dominant trait like you find at the start…at others, Glenn will cleverly dial it back to let the rest of his first impression have a moment in the spotlight – but make no mistake, it retains a fantastic presence throughout the short duration of this opening track.

In terms of what Murawski and I have been back & forth about in the past in a few instances where I’ve argued on behalf of shorter bursts of his uniqueness, I think a track like “The Choice Is Yours” goes a long way to make the point in a tiny timeframe.  Personally, I really like this song and felt like it gave us all just enough of everything we’d be looking for, changes just enough so that we don’t get remotely bored, and has plenty of enticing sound to keep us coming back for another helping later on down the road.  I like the stoic nature of its first minute, and I think the second minute-plus here really spoke volumes on behalf of what he can do to fluctuate & flex his music to the explore the vast potential it has within it.  As in, through the subtle changes he’ll make…some bolder than others like say, around the forty second mark, or later on down the road as you trip past that first minute to the 1:10 area…you flow fluidly with the design of Glenn’s music, and he’s still saved his best to come!  For me, it was right around the 1:45 mark…and keep in mind, this is all over by 2:18, so that’s like, I dunno, six-inches with one-down to go?  I don’t know football stuff, but you get the idea…there wasn’t much time to be had, and yet he’s still making the tiny tweaks in the attention to detail that truly matters…we notice stuff like this, no matter how subtle it may be.  From its pulsing sound, atmospheric majesty, and clever digital percussion spread out far & wide…you really feel the grand expanse of where a track like “The Choice Is Yours” opens up, and the gravitational pull it has in bringing us in to listen by the outstanding production Glenn’s put in.

In the context of what we’d all have to assume was being asked through the 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk affair, I’d have to say they should be plenty stoked on what he’s come up with overall.  Especially when I listen to a track like “Nocturnal Elements” – that’s when I find myself thinking, ‘well, if this isn’t what they were asking for, what else could they want?’  I’ll admit…I’m probably about as far removed from anything Punk these days, be it Cyber or otherwise when it comes right down to it – I’m in sweatpants half the time hiding my face made for radio – but to me, this sounds like what I’d have to imagine a take on Cyberpunk would sound like, would it not?  From what I’ve read as well, Glenn’s largely given much of this its intended videogame-esque style & sound, which is perfect for the digital realm to begin with, but also suited for the task at hand.  You get a bit of that old-school cartridge game style sound on “Nocturnal Elements” – and I ain’t gonna lie to ya, my ears greatly appreciated all this!  It really did kind of take me back to the days where the ol’ Nintendo came out and I was playing games like River City Ransom or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Contra – MAN I miss that game – and still taking a moment every so often to tune out of beating up some cartoon character to marvel at how much life & vibrant sound would be spilling out of the speakers as I moved through to the next stage.  “Nocturnal Elements” will go on to play like it’s rockin’ through several levels really; with the advantage of a bit more time, Glenn’s used it wisely…he morphs and changes the whole demeanor of the sound from its welcoming & friendly intro, into something more mysterious & mischievous by the end.  He gets a lot of miles out of this one tune, and there’s not a single thing I’d change about it – I love what he’s done here.

When I said short bursts of your ideas Glenn…I don’t know if I was exactly recommending TWENTY ONE SECONDS bro!  Alright, alright…keep it down back there & quit your laughing – I literally asked for this, yes, I get it.  BUT…to be fair to me, “Level Up!” is also a specific task that was required in the 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk contest…so it’s this short for a defined reason.  And to be really fair, I ended up in a conversation with this random dude that was at a show with me one time…the first show I filmed as Jer @ SBS actually, with Magik Spells playing that night at the Zoo Zhop in Vancouver…his name was Shiloh…our conversation ended up lasting loosely over years to follow after meeting that night & me dropping a business card…the tales this guy told were AMAZING…one of them being that he rocked an ENTIRE show…as in, his band’s name was literally right there on the posters & tickets like the rest of the lineup…and it was something like thirty-eight seconds in total, over three songs.  C’mon now folks – I’m a creative guy, but you can’t make this kind of stuff up – you read that right – three songs, less than a minute, full gear set up, barely enough time to say hello, musical frenzy of just over a half-minute, pack up your gear and get off stage.  Madness!  I’d almost be surprised if Shiloh wasn’t out there somewhere also rocking the 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk contest from wherever he is now down the rabbit hole.  Anyhow – “Level Up!” is what it is – it’s twenty-one seconds that are designed for this specific challenge, it plays like a quick interlude, Glenn packs it all up & leaves the stage, easy peasy, as they say.

Lean & mean, “Take To The Streets, Watch Your Tail” y’all – cause Murawski’s got this next one cookin!’  Overall, I have zero issues declaring this as one of my favorite cuts on this particular record, it’s a whole lot of fun and a great example of Glenn twisting his sound into new directions as well.  As it began, there’s no doubt I would have been able to peg this to Murawski’s catalog by the pattern & movement once again…I actually raised up my hands at around the twenty-five second mark to place the beats in the air as they came through for the first time, anticipating the change that came around.  I’m no psychic or fortune teller…I make no claims to see the future…but if you’re really paying attention to someone’s catalog – anyone’s catalog of tunes, not just Glenn – you start to identify certain similarities and you can rely on them to show up from time to time.  This felt like it was going that route, but I was happy to hear it all happen…Glenn’s got this designed right & tight for ya, and as a result, with each phase and iteration of something new being introduced, he keeps the sound comin’ atcha hot & fresh at all times.  As the song closed in on its first minute, right around the fifty-second mark when the guitar comes ripping in to chop it up…that’s where everything went straight to the next-level, and got all kinds of wild!  Sure it’s loose…heck, there’s even a squelching tone or two in there that’s damn near grating to be found along the way from there – but ain’t this LIVELY, solidly creative, and hella entertaining too?  Intense like you’ve just found your way into a hidden level of a video game, your time’s about to expire, or you just ran into the always dreadful END-LEVEL BOSS…”Take To The Streets, Watch Your Tail” is chockfull of audio entertainment and gripping sound that leaps right outta your speakers atcha.  Love it.

Now if you want my opinion on what’s just perfection, that’d be “Underneath Lies True Evil” – this is an all-out exceptional cut, not just for this particular challenge that Glenn has undertaken, but in any circumstance – he’s nailed this tight with nine inch nails to seal the deal.  Creepy as heck, it’s like the dude has got a layer of scratching backwards-esque digital sound dragging over us as we listen to this cut begin…as malevolent as it seems, goddamn that’s enticing to me!  Almost like you’ve got a demon breathing over your shoulder…the sensory experience that Murawski has created here is horrifyingly awesome…you can truly feel these vibes crawl right over ya.  “Underneath Lies True Evil” is every bit as compelling, captivating, haunting, and mysterious as you can hope to hear inside of all of 2:22 – Glenn takes us right into the underground here, and seals us in a tomb of godforsaken sounds that pound, bounce, and dance playfully around us, while still supplying a suspense that never seems to let up.  Mired in the darkness, yet keeping the atmosphere highly engaging and accessible – this is the cut I’d be shopping around to all the soundtrack experts & producers out there…this song is like its own resume and speaks volumes on behalf of what Glenn Murawski can accomplish any time he sets his mind to it.

So…hmmm.  Glenn…I thought we had this one in the bag man…

Without knowing all the specs & details surrounding the 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk tasks he’s taken on – it’s much harder to judge “Daybreak Awaits” in terms of the mission he was on.  If we’re still in the land of this being designed with a Cyberpunk attitude…then where-oh-where did that theme go?  Because this definitely ain’t that…but this IS a seriously amazing song in the Murawski catalog overall, that much I can say for certain.  Beautiful from start to finish really…the crystalline melody that Glenn’s latched onto here is absolutely superb.  Undeniably, it has an entirely different atmosphere, aura, and vibe to it than any of the six of the preceding cuts…which to me, makes this a really hard sell as to how it could be considered to be quote-unquote Cyberpunk here…but maybe, just maybe, I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Like I told ya earlier…I probably wouldn’t know a Cyberpunk if you uploaded one directly into one of my port-holes…so ultimately, I’m guessing…but this seems so far removed from the rest of what we’ve heard, ain’t it?  Would the theory then not logically be that, this has then shifted from the goal we were focused on in the 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: Cyberpunk?  I’m asking all this cause I genuinely don’t know the answer…but I’d imagine that might be where things need to be considered.  I’m just trying to figure out how it could have fit in, or what the specific challenge might have been for that day…the closest I can come up to is the end credits…but only because I’m not sure where else it might be found in a specifically Cyberpunk context.  But even then, someone’s still gonna have to explain to me how what’s clearly a song that goes far, far beyond what any end credits would ever yield in terms of its awesomeness, would be relegated to the part of a game people turn off or the end of a movie when people are tossin’ out there popcorn & gettin’ their coats on – because that would be a CRIME.  “Daybreak Awaits” is one of those moments I couldn’t personally take my ears off of…Murawski gets the absolutely maximum out of this melody, the pace & use of space is insightfully well explored and has remarkable depth to it…all-in-all, it’s a highlight example of the most fascinating aspects of the man’s sound.  Does it hit the specs of the challenge, or drift out of range?  I dunno!  I just know what sounds great, and this is certainly that.  And if this is what Cyberpunk really is, then sign me up for it – twice.

“Forlorn Melody” appears as a bonus track…and I’m not opposed to that whatsoever; it’s another high quality cut from Glenn Murawski, and you’ll never find me complaining about that, no matter how many times I’ve written about this musical superhero.  If I’m being entirely honest with the guy, I’d say it’s almost just slightly even more of a fit to this record than “Daybreak Awaits” was – but very, very slightly.  Both seem to almost play like a second-half to this album that was about to go somewhere entirely different than where it began…and into really beautiful places too…but for this specific challenge, it’s probably best he’s got it limited to just these two instances of noticeable deviation.  Plus, I’m not even sure the bonus track really gets involved in all that challenge stuff anyhow – I think this one’s just for the fans out there, but likely from around the same timeframe in terms of the recordings if I recall correctly.  In any event, I dig what I’m hearing once again…and I felt like “Forlorn Melody” actually gave this particular record a more suitable conclusion that kinda meets halfway between what we’d experienced before “Daybreak Awaits,” and post-hearing that last official track in the lineup.  Kind of like it was the…whaddya call those things…not the aftermath, not the sequel…the…epilogue!  That’s the word I was looking for, finally.  It plays like the epilogue…summing up so much of what we’ve experienced into one extra part written for the real fans out there that want more of the story – and I’m happy to be one of’em.  It might be less than seventeen minutes in total from beginning to end – but Glenn’s got some absolutely fantastic material here that shows the focus in his craft at its best, and also a range of tunes that, maybe they all hit the specs of what the challenge calls for, maybe they don’t…but they sure sound great to me, and I’d bet they will to you as well.

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