Glenn Murawski – Reclaim – Album Review
Looks like the man’s already been busy this year…four records deep on the inside of not even two months…that’s a fairly energetic start to 2022 and pretty damn consistent with Glenn’s regular extraordinary level of output. Hell…I’ll even be fair about it – one of those four records IS an EP with only four songs on it…so there you go…modest pace right? At least until you realize that he’s also got two of the four records loaded with thirty-three and fifty-five songs, respectively. No they’re not ALL new, but good lordy…those are some deep set-lists there sir, and guaranteed to be immersive experiences for certain.
It’s a lennnnnngthy buildup at the start of this particular album…Murawski is as Murawski does…but with that storming of drums and the detail he’s put into the Electro-percussion surging throughout “Reclaim” as the record begins with its title-track, you can feel the interest & engagement rise right along with the energy. Somewhere about mid-tune I’d say Glenn finds his way into the heart of the main hooks in this song…it’s an extended melody line that plays out real slow in comparison to the rapid nature of the stuttered shots of drum sounds & whatnot happening around it all, but highly effective all the same. It’s right there on the surface, so don’t get me wrong – y’ain’t gonna miss it, it’s just a matter of there being that much more happening at the very same time. I can get behind this though…it’s beefy at just over five-minutes long, but the bulk of what we find delivers on a supremely serious vibe that thrives with the uniqueness of texture & tone that our hero Mr. Murawski here, has always been able to use well to his advantage. “Reclaim” gets to where it’s going well enough and picks up steam along the way; it’s a decent start, but no doubt that Glenn goes on to reveal ever greater cuts to follow.
We never really know what the intentions are gonna be with any song as we listen to it, in terms of whether or not it’s supposed to stand alone, or potentially become part of something more – not just Glenn, but really, all music. Just because something’s got flashy top-40 hooks and made the radio-waves doesn’t mean that the band or artist creating it didn’t intended on getting it shopped into a movie right from the moment it was made. As I’ve mentioned in past reviews on Murawski’s music, a lot of what he created could be very well suited for that – but that’s a pretty easy comment to make when it comes to anything that would be considered part of the ambient realm too. I have moments here & there with “Oblique” where I wonder if enough has been added in melodically to stand alone on its own when it comes to the masses out there, or if this is that kind of cut more beneficial as part of an even larger work of art. Glenn’s music has always had me thinking about the possibilities, potential, and places it could go…he’s got more options that most of ya out there when it comes right down to it. Always produces a professional tune, usually packing a plethora of ideas that house ten song’s worth in one experience, and he’s capable of generating true moodiness & morphing soundscapes that have all kinds of potential in terms of where they could fit out there in this world of ours. “Oblique” is a bit more of an audiophile’s jam than it would be for the everyday set of ears out there – but if you’re like myself, and you dig on things like the wind blowing through your speakers, frequencies, timing, tone…if these are the things you cherish constantly, or at least in the right mood of your own, you’ll find there’s still more than enough here for ya. “Oblique” has a very anti-typical design to it that would be a challenge for many – I ain’t gonna lie about that – but yeah…something about the uniqueness & artistic nature of this tune that makes for a compelling listen too, if only to solve this audible puzzle in our mind as we listen.
I can get behind a cut like “Somnolent” simply for the sheer fact alone that, it helps me freakin’ THINK – so if that was your intention there Mr. Murawski, consider it mission accomplished. I put this song on and I may as well declare myself in a state of pure catatonia…I’m not advocating that it’s the best one on Reclaim, I’m merely relaying the effect “Somnolent” has on my brain. Probably largely based on projection and having one of the worst months I can remember ever having in my entire life, but yeah – this track damn near scared me…like it was peering straight into my mind and pulling out the thoughts I didn’t want to think straight up to the surface so that I had no choice but to deal with’em. Like the eternal song of sadness…that kind of effect – “Somnolent” weighs real heavy with its atmospherically inclined vibes and eerie off-tones…Glenn’s made some really strange choices here in terms of sound selection, but it’s those same instincts that lead him to a track that can’t help but stand out here. It’s not gonna be the song you go rollin’ down the sunset strip with the top down to…it ain’t that kind of accessible, not even remotely – all I can say is that when you hear “Somnolent” for even the very first time, your ears will instantly cue you into the fact that there’s a very specific mood this song will come in handy for. Might not be a track you’ll play every single day – but you will know when to reach for it. Make any sense? Probably not, but that’s okay…like I’ve been trying to say…this all gets sorted out just by listening to “Somnolent” – and once you do, I promise ya, you’ll know exactly what I mean and keep this song filed away in your mind for when you need that hypnotic dose of thought-inducing music in ya.
Laid out perfectly at this point in the record, “Long Road” comes in to be that beautiful restoration you need for your soul after all the questioning that “Somnolent” had just induced prior. I’m just gonna call it like it is here…I’m thinking…I’d probably put “Long Road” somewhere up there in like…my top three or four Glenn Murawski songs…ever? I mean…you can search for the man’s name right here on our site – you’ll see I’d have a LOT of music to go back through to confirm that for a certainty…but my ears know spectacular when they hear it, and that’s the point – that’s what “Long Road” is – spectacular. This is a cut that could slide right onto a record like One Day I’ll Be On Time by The Album Leaf and you’d never bat an eye or question its inclusion…it’s got that perfect mix of suspenseful tension in the evocative sound you hear…real contemplative-type stuff, you know what I mean? Murawski’s created a sincere odyssey into your thoughts, feelings, and emotions all the way through the pensive way that “Long Road” plays. One of the best examples I can point to in his catalog where he’s added just the right amount into this ambient tune and the balance is impeccable start to finish…you COULD have this on in the background, sure – but you could just as easily be listening to every note & tone, fully mesmerized. Like I said – I’ve heard a ton of Glenn’s music…and maybe you’d have to be as familiar with the catalog as I am to know how much this particular cut stands out from the rest…he’s absolutely nothing short of completely spellbinding from start to finish on “Long Road” and I’d fight anyone willing to say otherwise.
I think he knows actually, if I’m being truthful with ya. That’s how obviously & overtly special a track like “Long Road” IS…it’d be way rarer for someone NOT to hear it, you feel me? So he knows what’s coming next at this point…he’s got the impossible task of trying to follow up “Long Road” with something or anything that’s gonna somehow try to fill the space after one of the best cuts in his entire catalog. You artists & bands that have been there in this situation know the reality of it – it actually can’t be done. It’s rarer-than-rare that you’d ever hear one of the BEST songs from someone and then automatically hear another, and another…music truly don’t work that way y’all – get a grip. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel or even waste anyone’s time – you just gotta be smart about it, like Glenn was by putting “Abysses” after “Long Road” is all. Those BIG MASSIVE HUGE drum sounds? Yep – they’re gonna stand out and make sure everyone’s awake and paying attention after being mesmerized by “Long Road” only moments ago. From there, Glenn keeps it interesting enough to keep ya listening, and that’s really all this space on the record could ever hope to be filled with. You put in another stellar cut right after “Long Road” and it’s probably gonna get ignored altogether…I wouldn’t say “Abysses” has a whole lot going on for it other than its exploratory randomness and shifting sounds produced to beam & bounce from the lefts to the rights…other than that, it’s kind of a bare-bones cut despite the vibrant sound you hear. It’s a tough spot to fill to say the very least…I ain’t here to tell ya that “Abysses” is the song of all songs and pulled that off entirely – I’m just saying I don’t know what could have been better.
The light, airy & atmospheric vibes of “On A Cloud” make audible sense to the ears, and go on to provide a quaint & humble moment in time that isn’t fighting too hard to get your attention, though it might just get it by default. All you’re hearing is sweetness abound pretty much…so unless you’re among the hardest of hearts, I can’t really see anyone out there putting in a bunch of effort to resist what naturally seems to wanna come & live in your ears – so make some room. It’s only gonna take up 4:23 of space in there, won’t make any mess, won’t damage anything & probably even chip in for the rent…let it on in. “On A Cloud” drifts along with pleasant sound and a string of ideas that work well together, and all-in-all, it’s a tight tune. It’s not gonna be the track that sets the world on fire, but there’s never anything wrong with a song that’s simply enjoyable to listen to, unpretentious, and designed for your relaxation. Bring it on I say – better yet, bring it “On A Cloud” and float away with Mr. Murawski here as he creates a simple, sweet, and straight-ahead moment in time that’s essentially guaranteed to not piss anyone off.
“A Dawning Upon” was one of the more unexpected cuts I found on Reclaim…and I’m diggin’ it. I’m talkin’ about the unpredictable way this song shifted when it makes its first major melodic transition – I feel like our ears expect Glenn to go brighter & sweeter, and instead he takes us into the dark & mysterious. Surprise is always one of the best assets in a song, and this one definitely took me on a different adventure than I expected it to when it first started out. Like a great story unfolds, “A Dawning Upon” lays out the details slowly, giving depth to each element that adds up to the full tale – you’ll hear the pinch of sweetness I’m talking about around the thirty-second mark or so heading right towards the first minute…and before you even get to that full sixty-seconds, you’ll know exactly what I’ve been talking about. The fact that I’ve even written it right here in print won’t even help ya – there’s no point in me adding in SPOILER ALERT here, because again, our ears just naturally expect to hear something different than what they’ll find. We all deserve a curveball now & again – I’ll admit, “A Dawning Upon” wasn’t what I expected it was going to be, but it turns in a really spectacular direction that I couldn’t have seen or heard coming…and after all the music I’ve heard in this lifetime folks, you know that’s rare. He gets ya on the edge of your seat & listening close with “A Dawning Upon” by the subtlest of means; as I spun my way through this album & came back around to this cut it continually grew on me more & more, to the point where I’m very much convinced this would be among my favorites of Reclaim now.
I’m not entirely opposed to “Distant Memories” but this would definitely fit into the realm of sound & style I feel like I’ve heard from Glenn many times. The more familiar you are with his massive catalog, the more you might feel the same way…but if this is among your first experiences with his tunes, the impact could end up having more weight in that regard. I think for me…I was never sure if it was the pattern of the main melody line itself, or if the piano came out a bit too harsh or bright in the mix in comparison to the rest…ultimately I think both kind of exposed the same thing here, which is a good idea, but not necessarily among his best. Even though it does remind me more of his previous tunes overall, that particular piece of the song is still highly inventive…and I like that…I wanna support that in-full when it comes right down to it. I suppose it just bends more towards the artistic side than the accessible one as a result, and it’s tougher to say if this is an idea that ears can completely connect to. I felt like as it played on, that brightness/harshness issue seems to get resolved as the mix thickens and the surrounding elements in the atmosphere & percussion close in around us as we listen. Yeah…I guess it’s a bit more involved in the melody than what I’d assume most out there tend to stick with readily…I suppose that’s what I’m gettin’ at. Other than that, he’s played it as well as any other…the quality is always present in the music Glenn makes…”Distant Memories” is unique…but interesting unique…I’d imagine like many of Murawski’s tunes, the curiosity factor alone will keep most of ya listening intently.
I DIG the creativity in the harmonics and bouncy sparkly stuff he’s got goin’ on during “Accolades” on a personal level for sure…but yeah…gotta burst them bubbles again and say I’m not sure it had much on the other half of the song for me, as cool as I thought it all sounded. It’s really one of those tunes whereby both halves NEED the other in order for each to make the resounding impact on us that they do…it can feel like you’re listening to two separate songs in that respect, but it’s kind of a necessary evil when it comes to composition and structural dynamics at times. It’s like of like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in that sense – theoretically, you KNOW you love PB&J – we all do on some level, or have at least, crossed paths with the iconic sandwich at some point in time. When you’ve got control of the jelly you want on there, you’re in great shape – when it’s dealer’s choice, who knows what it’s gonna taste like, right? Maybe they’re marmalade people…and if marmalade & peanut butter is your sandwich of choice, I’d wager a bet you’re already long beyond help…it’d make for a strange combination to say the least. So while there’s an element of risk in those two very distinct flavors trying to somehow merge themselves into one here, and that might seem awkward, it’s still impossible to separate’em now that it’s all made, prepared, and ready to serve. I can’t hear this song not having each of its defined halves, yet I’m also entirely convinced that it’s also going to create a tough balance for most ears to absorb in one sitting. Murawski gives your brain plenty to chew on here…ultimately, I think most of us will really like what we find in each of its main parts, it’s just a matter of whether or not we feel like both belong together at the same time, in the same experience, or if this could have been two complete songs of their own. Great music is often debated & polarizing…I don’t know what, but there’s something here.
“Abstract” makes for a solid ending to what’s been another satisfying set of instrumental creativity from this reliable source that has become Glenn Murawski over the past several years. He’s still got lots in the tank and I’m sure he’s already got the next five records recorded over the last several days – he continues to easily be among the most active artists out there in our scene today, in any genre. “Abstract” is as its title claims it to be…not nearly an entirely blank canvas, but a spacious final song that has just as many meditative qualities as it does entertaining ones, to put you at ease as you finish this album off & get ready for your next Murawski music experience to follow. Not a ton to it, nor do I think there was intended to be…”Abstract” is exactly what it is – and it’s really what you make of it & where the sounds he’s added into this final song send YOUR thoughts to, wherever they may roam. From its shimmering pulses to the rhythmic percussion at the heart of it all, Glenn’s last cut finishes his album on a more delicate note, with all those addictively pensive vibes he’s so gifted at creating in his signature style. For an instrumental dude, there’s a whole lot of identity in Murawski’s music, and the more you hear it, the more you connect it all together, the more you appreciate how it tells his real story in sound.
Find out what we do at sleepingbagstudios, and be the next to be featured on our pages by clicking here!