Glenn Murawski – 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: The Elements – EP Review
…I think that this was a really good move for Glenn Murawski.
You regular readers recognize the name & you know we’ve written about him several times in reviews of a whole bunch of records like his Clear Away EP & his Absolver EP more recently, in addition to digging into different sub-series that he’s created to house his body of work like what he creates in his Existential Chambers set and Revisions & Remasters volumes. Through the sheer amount of times he’s appeared on our pages, you can tell I’m a sincere fan…otherwise I’d have pushed him away long, long ago; the fact is, Glenn’s relentless creativity has not only been excellent to listen to, it’s been inspiring.
While many of you have heard me preach about how ‘a good song is never finished, only abandoned’ many times in print throughout the years – truthfully, that’s about the only real concern I think I’ve ever had with Murawski’s music at the same time. Due to when I personally ran into his timeline of creativity & production, he’s always fairly locked with one foot rooted in the past, while shining up a trove of old tunes for the present…which at times has left me wondering what a fully in-the-moment Murawski might yield in the right here & now. Not that I haven’t sampled new creations & compositions he’s made currently – he’ll get what I mean; the dude spends a lot of time reflecting on his past songs & the music he’s made…and pretty much any time he figures he can bring more to something, he fires up the circuits & studio boards and does exactly that. I’ve got love for it…my own personal approach was almost the polar opposite in that put it out & never look back sense…but it’s pretty easy to understand why I’m writing about music so much more than I’ll ever make it…so trust the Murawski methods, not mine folks. The commitment he has to his material and making it the best experience he can create for us all is an artistic endeavor he’s been happy to pursue, and it’s resulted in countless amazing tunes; yes multiple variations of a bunch we know as he refines his art & craft somewhat on the fly in terms of how he releases his material, but it’s also led to more depth & details added into the mix of the final versions.
There’s a comfort in residing deep within the musical universe you create – Glenn Murawski’s whole catalog of cuts speaks to this more or less, documenting a lifetime of sound in an audible diary of sorts. The flipside to the argument of anything comfortable of course…it’s that even as ambitious as something can be like the music Glenn creates truly is…you run that risk of staying in the safety zone.
And ultimately…a real artist deep down knows the overall journey is never about playing it safe. Sometimes you have to challenge yourself in all-new ways, develop exciting new skills that improve everything you do, and create that path to the evolution in your art. Maybe that means doing something you’ve never done before in a video, maybe it’s exploring a completely different sound – or maybe like Murawski has here, you find yourself a contest that puts your skills & creativity to the test. According to the notes I’ve got on this record, this 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: The Elements record is exactly what the title implies – Glenn took on a challenge to write, compose, and record a new song for seven days straight on a particular theme, and here we are – it’s out there online in a set for all to enjoy.
It’s a perfect example of WHY it’s important to challenge yourself as an artist…it can bring out your best.
With no opportunity to overthink the moment, question his instincts, or dwell too long on any one song before he’d have to have moved onto the next to satisfy the requirements of a challenge like this, you can hear how much inspiration has played a role, in tandem along with the themes you’ll find. As “Earth – A Song For Earth” begins with its sputter-electro-flutter fluctuating like a dying beacon of light or broken piece of attempted communication from Major Tom floating in his tin can high above the planet – the intense allure of the uniqueness in this sound Glenn’s creating here cannot be complimented enough in my opinion. Combined with the well-paced, pensive piano notes he’ll play for ya, “Earth – A Song For Earth” is as beautiful & fascinating as it is crystalline & chilling at times, much like something akin to the mesmerizing composition of a time-stopping moment like “A Warm Place” by Nine Inch Nails believe it or not. Ultimately, “Earth – A Song For Earth” will expand into a more dominant melody as it blossoms into a new chapter around the song’s mid-point, bringing in the remarkable analog instrumentation Murawski uses so well & so often to accentuate the hybrid style of the music he’s making. There is a ton of exquisite emotion in the notes & tones swirling throughout the atmosphere of “Earth – A Song For Earth” – and as far as openers go, I felt like Glenn absolutely nailed this gateway in, and brought the theme to life through a unique lens & perspective on sound that’s distant & far away.
“Fire – Thermal Interruption” is another solid match between theme & the execution of Glenn’s ideas. In the normal context of a record, the scorching hot sounds of these riffs coming atcha are almost polar opposite to the chilled-out nature of the songs surrounding them – but in considering the fact that Glenn’s seven-day adventure into the elements delves into a whole array of them, he’s done exceptionally well in defining each idea & making the concepts plenty clear. Like as in, “Fire – Thermal Interruption” sound like a full-on blaze of professionally played chaos & disorder – it burns bright and sparks to life instantly…and for two red-hot minutes in time, you rip right along with this crunchy cut. The cohesion of a record like this is in the core concept regarding the elements and the inspiration they’ve provided Glenn to get creative for seven days straight in whatever direction that might have taken him – songs like “Fire – Thermal Interruption” boldly prove that he held nothing back in seeking to achieve the artistic objectives of this challenge, and that he’s got material that can certainly compete. Experimental, wild, and all kinds of innovative – “Fire – Thermal Interruption” has no qualms about gettin’ weird and strange with its versatile design…and undoubtedly its exploratory sound will entice the people out there on the fringe to see what else Murawski’s got in-store for us, because ya never know just what it’ll be. It’s excellent to hear him switch the entire direction of sound up so decisively in a sincere effort to compete in this challenge – you can hear the inspiration of the elements in these songs.
“Air – Winds Of Archaia” delivers on the atmospheric & windy sound you would likely expect to find, with all the stellar quality that Glenn puts into the design & production that we’ve come to know & love. Dreamy vibes & colorful, angelic, and graceful melody combine, collide, and entwine themselves as you listen…and there’s no doubt that Murawski’s locked onto another quality idea that represents the theme in the mission he’s on. To represent that air-like sound, he’s got lots of expansive, glowing melody swirling through the atmosphere for you to dig on; its changes are more subtle perhaps in comparison to the first couple cuts, or maybe “Air – Winds Of Archaia” spreads out a bit too far into the wind to quite pump out the tangible hooks the first two tracks provided, but again, in terms of achieving the goal of making a song like this, you gotta give Glenn an A for his efforts. I mean, I’m not the judge of this contest and I’d assume with these songs being out there that challenge has already passed & he’s onto the next, but if they want my two cents on the matter, they’re still welcome to’em & there they are. I’ll say this…it’d be a tough style & sound to leave a lasting impact with in any situation, and would likely be a song that would thrive without issue in a set of ambient tunes – here coming after the in-your-face style of “Fire – Thermal Interruption,” a cut like “Air – Winds Of Archaia” will have to battle harder to be noticed & win over the affections of the masses on those initial spins through this record.
A song like “Water – Under The Falls” beautifully reveals the steady focus and imaginative, playful sounds of Glenn Murawski in equally compelling doses for ya. It’s gentle, delicate, inviting and warm – and I felt like this cut had just a bit more of what I was searching for in the chilled out sounds of “Air – Winds Of Archaia” by having those more vibrantly noticeable moments in the mix, as opposed to such a widespread approach. Of course, that’s the difference in exploring different themes, you come up with different sounds and ways to make them audibly unfold – and I’d fully argue on his behalf that he’s done a great job in finding a way to represent each of these elements he’s chosen on 7-Days Of VGM Challenge: The Elements. He’ll cleverly switch up the tempo & pace as he plays the lead melody, and confidently let the background elements work their magic on ya at the same time – and together combined, “Water – Under The Falls” sounds like we’re really witnessing a moment out there in the wild alone, chilling out in a serene pool underneath a waterfall without a care in the entire world in our heads. It’s a great tune to close your eyes & escape from wherever you are, to wherever this takes you.
Hands-down though…to me personally…I’m not sure that this record gets any better than what you’ll find on “Wood – Fortitude” – this is easily right up there with my favorites from Murawski’s catalog. And that in itself is an interesting call…to be truthful, I’m not even completely sure he’s gotten this song 100% correct on a technical level – I just know what sounds absolutely perfect to me, and he’s crushin’ it here. Everything that some might consider to be quirky or strange, all stacked up to create an experience unlike pretty much anything else you can think of – and striking gold like this when it comes to songs is essentially what every artist & band is in this music thing for, isn’t it? The level of imagination & innovation involved in this one song alone is simply staggering…you have to truly admire the musical mind of Murawski for finding his way into this tune. It sounds like he’s creating a whole bunch of organic percussion ideas…maybe some even developed by muted string strums & whatnot – I mean, it SOUNDS like he’s even using the kitchen sink on this cut – “Wood – Fortitude” is absolutely hypnotic in all the right ways. You gotta understand folks…you’re like, two-minutes into a song that is fueled by the melody made in the percussion on its own at the beginning of this song…sure, drummers and musicians would normally love that, but for the rest of us, you’ll be truly blown away by how appealing this song is. Murawski never ceases to amaze me with how much music is inside this guy waiting to come out – and songs like “Wood – Fortitude” easily verifies the creative well residing in this artist will never run dry. It’s brilliant, full-stop. Massively impressed with just how fresh & genuinely new “Wood – Fortitude” is. Around its mid-point, Glenn switches it up and transitions the main melodic threads into different instrumentation, allowing the song to expand with bold and endearing sound demanding to be heard; I’m all about “Wood – Fortitude” – it’s not just a great Glenn Murawski song, it’s definitely one of the coolest cuts I’ve heard in 2020 when it comes to being measured up against any single tune I can think of by any artist or band.
LISTEN to the way he’s morphed his own style & sound to suit these core concepts surrounding the elements. I love how this record proves yet another amazing aspect of how music can be created – and I love that, in knowing what the objective really is, you can hear how Murawski has shifted his style & sound around to attain the goals. Need further confirmation than he’s already provided ya with in the first five tunes? Try on “Metal – Before The Forge” and listen to all the shiny & shimmering sounds floating throughout the spectacular mix flowin’ outta your speakers. Marvelous! What I loved even more was really getting into how this title represented the entire sound of this song to me – keep in mind, it’s ‘before the forge’ – as in, before it’s been heated up and shaped or whatever. Right now, the state that this ‘metal’ is in, is still au-naturale & shining right there in the rock…and soon enough, what sounds like an army of little miners with tiny hammers go to work on chippin’ it on outta there. I obviously don’t expect everyone out there to just see the same things in their mind as I do when they listen – but I almost can’t imagine how anyone out there would hear this song any different in the context of the title, concept, and sound combined either! “Metal – Before The Forge” is nearly as subtle as a tune like “Air – Winds Of Archaia” is in so many ways; and not to beleaguer the point, but much like “Water – “Under The Falls” it has all those fully tangible & fleshed-out ideas from moment to moment that sparkle & dance from the lefts to the rights as it plays. With just a hint of added melancholy & depth in the vibe that keeps the sound of “Metal – Before The Forge” serious in its demeanor…what can I say besides even that aspect reminded me of those same tiny hammers all doin’ their level best to get to the gold they see in them thar hills with resounding determination. With all its pulsing, curious, & interesting sounds at work, this cut is a definite highlight for hitting the mark of this album’s objective.
Ending strong on the sincerity and soaring melody at work on “Aether – Mystery Of Aether,” there’s no doubt in my mind that Glenn Murawski has discovered one seriously compelling way to challenge himself as an artist & keep us entertained in the process. Without question one of my favorite records he’s put out from start to finish; and considering the methods of which it was made, I think it makes everything that much more impressive to be honest. I think he’s been rewarded creatively by taking on such a fun endeavor to begin with, but I think the results are even more rewarding when you hear how well it’s all turned out and how inspired Glenn sounds in this entire lineup of songs. “Aether – Mystery Of Aether” floats us gently towards the end on what’s really quite the epic theme at the heart of this song…like you could easily imagine this cut being the main soundtrack for your favorite television drama or that next academy award winning scene that needed the right music to make the moment real. And while I’m sure it’s likely a cello he’s rockin…it almost sounds like he’s playin’ an erhu in this final tune, which is one of my favorite instruments out there in the world, introduced to me through The Hsu-nami & used brilliantly throughout their self-titled record back in 2016. I’m probably wrong…but that’s the kind of fascinating texture and unique tones you’ll find on “Aether – Mystery Of Aether” – and with the absolutely knockout use of sublimely subtle digital sound gently complementing the vibes as it creeps into the mix along the way…again, I think you gotta really hand it to Glenn here, this album is fantastic. It started that way, it ended that way, and everything in the middle between consistently hit the mark of the challenge and the themes he was looking to create, resulting in an experience that takes us all on an authentic journey through the elements and the blissfully expressive sound & style of Glenn Murawski.
Find out more about him at his official website at: https://gmmtunes.com
What kind of fun are we having next and who are we having it with? Need a video/audio post? Or how about an interview? Find a list of what we do at sleepingbagstudios and join the thousands of bands & artists we’ve featured by clicking here!