Glenn Murawski – Absolver – EP Review
Maybe it just hit me at the right time…maybe it was a set of sounds I needed to hear more than I knew or realized I did…whatever it was, whatever the reasons may be, “Aesthetic Consonance” felt like a perfect moment in time as the new EP from Glenn Murawski started to play. He’s given himself plenty of time in the length of these new songs to let their hypnotic melodies work their spellbinding magic on you, and that effect takes hold of you immediately with the captivating & enchanting sounds of the very first cut. Gorgeous, serene, crystalline, and remarkably compelling, the ice-like sounds he’s selected in composing “Aesthetic Consonance” has such a wonderfully warm glow to it at the same time…quite honestly, I had this tune on repeat for what felt like hours and maybe it was…it’s got a breathtaking beauty to it that I couldn’t get enough of. The arrangement here is nothing short of incredible; I’ve had the privilege of hearing many of Glenn’s songs & records over this past year and I feel like I’ve got enough credible experience with his catalog at this point to know when he’s knocking it right outta the park – and that’s exactly what he’s doing at the very beginning of the Absolver EP with “Aesthetic Consonance.” Revealing that master’s grip on emotion in the melodies he creates, this opening tune slowly & soothingly crawls along, gently layering in serious depths of sound that provoke our own thoughts & feelings…”Aesthetic Consonance” is the very definition of a sensory experience in music.
While the first song reaches for a mix of melancholy & melody, the track to follow called “Night Essence” digs in even further to establish the isolated nature of the Absolver EP. According to the notes I’ve got here, much of the music on this record is like a real-time reflection of Glenn’s own state of mind and the multi-layers of emotions he’s had to deal with in battling bipolar depression. He’s coming about it all the right way if you ask a recovering-manic like myself…it’s about finding that outlet, that joy, that means to make you happy…it’s about throwing yourself into the art and realizing that the most extreme feelings you feel, happy, sad, or otherwise…all give you an insight into the world that others can’t see. When it comes right down to it…as hard as many of those moments of depression can certainly be, there’s a beauty to be found there too…we’re perfectly imperfect machines and I think a lot of Glenn’s music really gets to the heart of that without ever being obvious about it. “Night Essence” is a great example of that…a reminder of our shared vulnerability, the chorus punctuates the point he’s making with this song in a rare moment where vocals are added, singing “we all fall” to each of us, directly. Of course, depending on the mood you’re in or the headspace you’re currently working with…well…that might be what determines whether you hear a song like this one, or any of these tunes for that matter, and come out feeling like they’re devastatingly sad, or powerfully inspiring. And therein lies the real magic of Murawski and his connection to his art dear readers, dear friends…it’s massively interpretive. For myself personally, as painful as a reminder of our own fragility & instability can be – you can also look at “Night Essence” through a more positive lens…understand that this is also a reminder of the connection we all share between us. It’s in realizing that, that you know there’s no shame in falling down in this lifetime, no matter how far down it feels…it happens to us all; and in that respect, none of us are ever alone…that’s the perception sometimes, especially in the midst of depression – but the real deal is the fact that almost every single one of us on this planet are connected by HOW we feel things. The quicker we find that love & acceptance from ourselves or from others, and open up like Murawski is, I assure you the faster the healing begins. And in the meantime, one helluva lot of awesome art.
“Dedication” has Glenn heading nearly into Post-Rock terrain…like you could hear a track like this fitting into an Explosions In The Sky record without it feeling out of place. At least for its opening three-minutes, then maybe I’ll hear some arguments about it after the electrified beat kicks in. Like I’ve been saying from the get-go here with Murawski’s music, so much of it is interpretive; according to the notes I’ve got here, it’s somewhat assumed to be the sunniest disposition we’re gonna find on the Absolver EP. While that may be true for some and truer for others, for myself personally, I don’t know if I really felt like that at all…I still found this to be a very reflective, internalized, and isolated type of tune that fit right into this set of versatile Electro-melancholy that Glenn creates so well. There’s no doubt that “Dedication” has more oomph & energy when it comes to the spring in its step once it’s in full bloom, that’s undeniable – but I definitely never felt like the emotion on display resonated in any one specific way…which is more than cool with me. I like the hopeful thread that so often exists inside of Murawski’s songs, and “Dedication” definitely has that working strong in its favor underneath the surface at the core of this tune. What I loved about this versatile cut is that it still really felt like it belonged with this set of songs…it might possess a different attitude, demeanor, and energy by the end of it all, but there’s no doubt about the cohesiveness it has with the rest of the Absolver EP. Especially when you consider the extended intro before the beat even arrives…that’s a remarkable fit with the rest of this record; and even when the beat does come into play, “Dedication” organically evolves into it. I might have gone with the beat a little more suppressed into the background…its rambunctious energy definitely becomes the dominant trait until the glow of the synth strings comes in…at which point they kinda take right over too; it does become a bit like several layers competing for our attention & affection. The final twist of the melody in “Dedication” is by far its most magnificent…there’s probably just over a minute or so left to go, and Glenn puts one last cherry on top of this cut that seems to part the sea of sound & truly make you marvel at the melody he brings in as almost an afterthought. For anyone else out there, they’d have built an entire song around that one idea or set of hooks, but not this guy; for Murawski, this is simply another piece of one extremely massive puzzle & entire world of sound.
I felt much the same towards “Incessant Maladies” as I did with the opening track “Aesthetic Consonance” – these feel like songs that sincerely deserve your attention and keep it locked in, fascinated by the movement & selection of sounds you’ll discover. Pensively played and very slowed down compared to that added energy burst of the beat in “Dedication” that came right beforehand, “Incessant Maladies” is another cut that you want to listen to real closely. The beauty on the surface is more than apparent…Murawski actually reminds me of our 2017 winner of our annual Best New Sound, Sienna, and the atmospherically-inclined songs that were on her latest album Moon Rituals…very similar in the sense that while it might seem like one main thing is going on, multiple parts contribute big-time. I think the most apparent spot in “Incessant Maladies” where you get your best glimpse of the contrasting darkness behind the light occur just prior to the first minute and just past the second…and arguably in the final couple seconds at the beginning & the end – that’s where you’ll likely notice it the most…this cloud…this shroud of seriousness. If you’re listening closely, you’ll realize it never actually leaves. “Incessant Maladies” is like the constant battle between good & evil, right & wrong, to be or not to be…if you’re really listening to it, you’ll discover that the surface melodies are actually battling against the background layers for control the entire time…becoming a genuine metaphor for life in music like you might not have experienced before. It’s definitely a cut that worked for me…maybe I’m reading too much into this tune like I have the tendency to do…but maybe I’m not that far off the mark when it comes to the intentions of its design…maybe I’m right on the money here; in any event, it was another real highlight for myself when it came to listening to the Absolver EP, “Incessant Maladies” is brilliant.
While I’ve got notes from Glenn to provide me with the background on many of these tunes and all the lights on in the house while I listen to “Prodromal” – I still get curious when I don’t know the full meaning behind a word and get my Google-on. Not to get too nerdy on you guys, but “Prodromal” is an amazing word from its multiple definitions to its applications…and the haunting themes that tend to come along with it, both physically & mentally. If this tune sounds spooky to you…eerie…menacing…forboding…dark – there’s a reason for that, and it’s called hitting the mark right on target. Murawski set out to make one of his darkest cuts with “Prodromal” – and listen to the incredible results he’s uncovered will ya? Astounding really. “Prodromal” will cling to your bones as it plays, haunting your speakers with a sense of dread & anxiety on-high, creeping and crawling with the fear of whatever comes next dominating every thought & feeling you have in this experience. While I understand the reality of…well…let’s be honest here, this is so cinematically-inclined that it’s practically a horror-movie theme of sorts…and not everyone out there is gonna wanna sit with all the lights on in their house just so they can listen without their brown pants on like I am…I get that…but hopefully, I’m wrong and this becomes a favorite for the people out there. I think “Prodromal” was a courageous & deep dive into the psychosis…and I think in terms of the sound itself, it’s bloody magnificent; personally I’m always gonna have time for something as exceptional as this…mind you, I’d probably lean towards listening to it in the daytime myself, just to avoid any added paranoia my brain would so readily supply during late-night. Gripping to say the very least, Glenn has composed a song that could conjure up the dead from down below…”Prodromal” feels like the mere seconds before we all get snacked on in a massive zombie invasion…it’s a song that embraces the evil and the dark & allows it to invade the record for a subtle-but-heart-pounding moment; that it’s all happening at such a crawling pace is entirely rad.
The pensive nature he creates and thought-provoking way that Murawski makes music come alive keeps surging delicately with captivating ideas & sound that grab your full attention, right to the very end of this EP. The final cut “Malevolent Design” would be another massive highlight in Glenn Murawski’s rapidly growing catalog of tunes if you ask me; it’s got a superb mix of bright layers of melody that float along the surface, and the intensity of a low-end melody that keeps this entire song completely grounded. As chilled out as it is, tracks like “Malevolent Design” are enormously heavy – and you really feel the weight of this song as it plays on throughout the majority of its first five minutes. Glenn will add a little bit extra into this one over the course of the rest that may or may-not be one move too many for some…he’s done such an excellent job on creating trance-like tunes throughout this record that even I’d admit, I was already more than satisfied with everything that occurred in this last cut’s first five minutes that I wasn’t as sure about the rest, but I wasn’t opposed to it either. I just think he continues to play things extremely well & extremely smart at the same time – not only is what you hear unique and a display of innovative & inventive musicianship, but songs like “Malevolent Design” also really get to the heart of what makes sound capture the interest of our ears from texture to tone, to pacing and spacing.
While depression can be soul-crushing, there’s also no denying it can be good for the art…I think many people out there subscribe to that theory, likely including Glenn Murawski. He’s gonna have to step back and look at this record…and recognize that so much of this EP has come out beyond stellar…and that’s something he’ll have to reconcile somehow. Because as great as it is to make a record full of amazing songs that have the genuine ability to move people – it’s tough to justify the ends when the means can be so personally tormenting. Somewhere in all this music-stuff, is that peace of mind that Murawski is seeking out…and undoubtedly when he’s busy within the world of his art, he probably doesn’t have to deal with the rest of the thoughts bouncing around in his head so much as take a couple specific ones on at a time through the songs he creates. There’s a beautiful & soothing peace within the creative process…there are certainly storms as well…but the allure of the freedom of expression that comes from just making art & music that reflects how you feel, how you think, how you ARE…is an incredibly powerful thing…a strong enough reason to justify digging right into the most painful parts of ourselves in an effort to relate, connect, and communicate with the world around us. Murawski’s a truly gifted artist & a brilliant communicator in his music – he’s proven that once again with the Absolver EP.
Find Glenn Murawski at Bandcamp here: https://glennmurawski.bandcamp.com/music
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