Glenn Murawski – Revisions & Remasters: Volume 3 – Album Review
Well…what did I tell ya last time around? I told ya he’d be back real soon.
Though to be fair, even though I know Glenn Murawski is likely super busy in his bunker making all kinds of music during this lockdown we’re all in right now, in truth, this was technically already out there before it started. In fact, as I was busy typing up the last review on his Posterity Wanes record, this Revisions & Remasters: Volume 3 posted up on his Bandcamp page and put me an album behind again. Glenn outworks us all…no matter what our art may be, this guy’s more immersed in his craft than just about everyone out there right now…and if he’s not working on something entirely brand-new, he’s still hard at work, polishing up tunes from the past like he is through his Revisions & Remasters series. Dude never stops…I just write about the music never mind making it, and I can barely keep up to him.
In truth…I literally can’t. He’s already got a new EP released beyond this record I’m reviewing right now.
But I keep on listening…happily I might add. Glenn’s got a genuine gift for connecting his thoughts and emotions to music and creating melody that expresses his feelings in captivating ways. As an experimental/ambient/orchestral/instrumental artist, his catalog has spanned a range of impressive & unforgettable moments, in addition to the occasional adventure that pushes the threshold every now and then…but it’s all the pursuit of something new for us all to experience…and you gotta dig intentions like that. To this very day, as far as I’m aware, there are about at least twenty different releases from Murawski out there…and they’re all available for free…because the man makes music for YOU to be entertained. Glenn’s in it for the pure love of the game and the price tag on his music proves it.
As far as the value in music goes for us as listeners, it’s priceless to us all in completely different ways.
Revisions & Remasters: Volume 3 consists of nearly a 50/50 split between songs I recognize and that I’ve heard throughout Glenn’s catalog from past reviews I’ve written, and many are from before the time I started listening…so I’m playing catch up. And before you go and scrutinize my math, I’m not actually counting’em all out…I’m estimating and doing my best to recognize what I remember without relying too much on all the information that’s out there, at least to start. When I see a song like “Cataplexy” start out the record and hear the combination of sweet & bold movement in the music, of course I get curious like anyone else would…sure it reminds me vaguely of some stuff I’ve heard from Murawski, but I could tell it was the signature aspect of his composition ringing true with me, rather than knowing I knew this song, which I didn’t. “Cataplexy” came from the original Existential Chambers album; I jumped on Glenn’s bandwagon somewhere around the time when Volume 2 of that series came out – and this is a fantastic tune to start this new experience up! Definitely the kind of song that evolves & builds at a perfect pace…somewhat simple or at least less complex, but clear, compelling, and still much more than any kind of intro-style track. “Cataplexy” does have that natural intro-LIKE feeling to it, but you get a whole lot more to this experience as the song unfolds and expands into wonderfully expressive & colorful sound that continues to strengthen, get larger, and envelop you as it plays on.
To me, “Glimpse Of A Dream” is largely why you would want to make a record like this. A Revisions & Remasters attempt wouldn’t actually be a bad thing for most bands & artists to create come to think of it – it allows you to either smooth out some rough edges, resolve some past mistakes, or revive a song that people should have heard that maybe didn’t get enough attention…all of these reasons are highly valid. I’m sitting here realizing that there’s still so much more of Glenn’s music that I haven’t heard; and even though I’m fairly convinced I’d be one of the people out there in the world more familiar with his music than most, hearing the beginning of this record is a solid reminder that there’s lots still to be discovered. And I’m thankful! Yes, that’s right, you read that correctly. I wouldn’t have actually wanted to exist in a world where a song like “Glimpse Of A Dream” was just chillin’ out on the shelf somewhere and I didn’t realize it was even there – what kind of crime would that be? Not the world I wanna be livin’ in, that I can tell ya with full confidence. I’d definitely be inclined to put this song right up there with the best of the best that I’ve heard from Murawski overall…I think “Glimpse Of A Dream” is brilliantly mesmerizing and he makes incredible choices in how he chooses to play this song. From the pace to the space, Glenn’s got this song locked-down in all the right ways…it’s peaceful, beautiful, and authentically stunning in its clever subtlety…and when he adds in significant new sounds to the surface or background like he will around the 3:20 mark, you really appreciate the dimension of depth he adds to his music. So much of his material plays like a story of its own kind.
New sounds always count for a lot when it comes to the impact songs make in a collective works like this – think back to the old greatest-hits records you know of…it’s quite likely that every single one of them contains at least one or two new songs, maybe a remix or a cover or something else if you’re lucky, and a whole lot of tunes you know & love to go with’em. So for myself personally, not only did I dig the fact that most of what I knew from Murawski’s music would come in the later stages of this new record of Revisions & Remasters, but I think the choices he’s made in bringing songs like “Cataplexy,” “Glimpse Of A Dream,” and the title-track from one of his early 2019 EPs called iLLustrious was a really good move to have up front in the lineup. “iLLustrious” is a complete ear-catcher for sure…and if you’re following the timeline of Glenn’s music, you’ll see that this comes well before his Electronic Melodies record still, showing you visibly and audibly that he was creating these compositions that blurred the lines between electronic & organic instrumentation for quite some time already. A real slow-burner that still has plenty of movement, and an incredible burst of guitar tones that’ll eventually enter the mix to liven up the finale, “iLLustrious” uses its length to its advantage and makes a maximum impact through a more noticeably serious but highly effective sound.
“A Thoughtful, Calm Place” became less calm pretty quickly, and kinda intense & dramatic if you ask me – but that’s cool, it just wasn’t what I thought I was in-store for. Glenn achieves a wonderful peace in the sound at the very beginning as it starts, but you’ll find “A Thoughtful, Calm Place” expands into quite the thought-provoking set of sounds…arguably even a little pulse-raising. Love it though…I think the mix of tension & beauty in this song is brilliantly crafted and structured…I’m not gonna tell ya it’s the sound you’d expect as advertised through the title, but it’s definitely a fantastic & mesmerizing tune for sure. For about a good twenty-five seconds or so though, I’d be 100% inclined to agree…what I heard was fully representative of what I would figure “A Thoughtful, Calm Place” would sound like. As this tune morphs and changes, there’s no question that you can feel the exceptional mix of tension, intensity, and drama crawl right over your skin as it plays on…the mix of eeriness & haunting beauty is quite something to listen to when it comes right down to it. All this being said…and even though titles often sum-up or indicate an idea of what we’re in-store for aside…”A Thoughtful, Calm Place” was one of my favorite cuts on Revisions & Remasters: Volume 3 without question…couldn’t take my ears off of this tune. I love that Murawski is capable of creating such a gripping sound while still appearing to be so calm & composed on the surface of it all. Cuts like “A Thoughtful, Calm Place” prove this man is fully in control.
“Spiritual Grooves” is much more of a case of a song title & sound being related in my opinion. I’ll admit, this cut’s a bit odd…which I somewhat expect from Murawski’s music from time to time…but it’s strange in an entirely different way. I found the way this track seems to bounce & float along at the same time was really unique…and as far as the ‘groove’ part is concerned, you definitely get that through the movement of the music on this tune. And it brings this weird smile to my face; I get the fact that radio stations aren’t exactly gonna line up for a song like “Spritual Grooves” – I get that – but it’s super satisfying to hear dudes like Glenn push themselves towards real art, rather than simple hooks. What a song like “Spiritual Grooves” might lack in straightforwardness for the everyday music listener, it certainly makes up for in uniqueness and clever movement that catches the attention of your ears. Not the kind of cut I’d expect everyone out there to love…true uniqueness never really works like that…but it’s definitely a creative strength in the lineup of songs on Revisions & Remasters: Volume 3. Pass or fail, say what you like, maybe it’s polarizing, maybe it’s not…maybe we’ll all somehow agree that this adventurous meander through sound & style is something we’ll all want to turn up & appreciate, though I suspect “Spiritual Grooves” would more likely be the biggest challenge for listeners with how unlike it really is from so much of what’s out there. Interesting cut though in my opinion…definitely different.
The first of two cuts to come back from his Existential Chambers Volume 2 record is called “Invocations” – which was a bold & beautiful track before and that stands to be the case here again on this newly refreshed treatment on Revisions & Remasters: Volume 3. You’ll hear no complaints from yours truly here when it comes to this song making another appearance…I loved it then and I still love it now. Every time this song hits the forty-eight second mark I practically squeal in delight…the twist on the main melody at that moment and the impact it makes when you hear it, always sends a shiver down my spine. You’ll hear it again around the 1:50/2:55/3:57 marks, though it has more alongside it in the music to go with it by then; that first pure dose of hearing the main idea at the core of this melody as crystal clear as you do in the opening of this tune is nothing short of straight-up exquisite. “Invocations” flows with exceptional grace, beauty, and bold sounds that seem to drift in from afar, then soon become an integral part of the overall composition and another essential ingredient in its success. There might even still be more room to experiment with songs like these too…which is what listening to the opening had me thinking. The tendency in making a record or revitalizing tunes from the past is to always add in MORE of something…whether that’s an increased level of production to reflect a better sound like you’ll hear in the shining-up of many of these songs, or even adding a new part or two to recreate it all with a piece or two you felt was missing before…these are generally the reasons we brings songs back again. Art can work in all kinds of compelling strategies however…and sometimes taking something away can also be a method to discovering something new about a song. Would I take an all-piano version of “Invocations” without any other instrumentation whatsoever, and more importantly, would I like it? You bet I would. I’m not saying it would necessarily be better, I’m just saying there’s an extremely gorgeous melody locked into the core of “Invocations” that could shine brightly through all kinds of different approaches; hearing it entirely stripped-back to a version with only piano might very well leave each and every one of us out there no choice but to recognize the true beauty that exists in this song.
“Lost” was originally on the album called Vicissitudes…and for as chilled-out of a melody as it appears to have, you’ll find that this cut really moves quick. Songs from around the time of that record and Glenn Murawski’s Electronic Melodies album right beforehand all remind me a lot of The Album Leaf, which is always going to be a great thing in my books & certainly in my speakers as well. A cut like “Lost” could slide right into the lineup of a record like The Album Leaf’s A Safe Place and most people would never even know they’re listening to a completely different artist…that’s how close some of this drifts together in style & sound, but without any threat of creative compromise. I don’t even know for a fact that Glenn listens to or even knows who The Album Leaf is…maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t…regardless, I think when it comes time to make music, Murawski simply goes where the music takes him. Sure he obviously puts a ton of thought & effort into his compositions and writing – and his production level has positively increased from when I first started listening to now – but the most essential ingredient that I believe he works with, is his gut. His instincts. His emotions. His thoughts. His feelings. All of these will play a role as well, but it really comes down to the artistic courage it takes to follow yourself down the rabbit hole & see what naturally comes out of your soul…and that’s the key to unlocking the real magic in Glenn Murawski’s music.
“Visions” comes from an EP called iLLustrious, which was before my time listening to Glenn’s music technically started, and the second cut to come from that record & make a reappearance on this new one. He’s kept me plenty busy listening to what he’s had going on currently…so admittedly, this was my first experience with this song, having not yet fully gone through the back catalog. Somewhat mixed feelings about this tune in comparison to a lot of what Glenn does now I suppose…I think the parts without the guitars are excellent, especially once they’ve cut out completely and the serene sounds that were once the background take us to the end. But that’s not to say I don’t dig what some of the guitars bring to this tune either – I do…I think the chops in the layer over-top of the lead tones may have been that one ingredient too many, but I’m not really that opposed to them either. My main beef would be that when they’re raging on the top like that it gets a bit harder to focus on or hear what’s underneath’em…and to me, it was those layers below that had the most tangible connection, in my opinion. Ultimately, I’d still put my money on a song like “Visions” being much more accessible overall than say, something like “Spiritual Grooves” probably is, but there are still noticeable challenges being made to listening ears on “Visions” that may or may not prove to be too much for the everyday fan. I mean, you could look at it from the complete opposite side of the coin too…if you were more of a guitar fan, then “Visions” is the track you’ve been waiting for by comparison to the rest; but that in itself would also be strange…guitar can often be an element of what Murawski creates, but it’s not usually the driving force, nor is it really on this song either. I think the lead tones in behind the chops are freakin’ magnificent…especially as you hear them climb into the mix around the 1:15 mark for the first time – that’s a brilliant moment in music right there is what that is. It goes on to shift the dynamics of the sound on “Visions” by quite a noticeable measure from where it all began, but the journey is still fully satisfying in its own right. “Visions” does different things than every other track on this record, and there’s inherent value in adding a song like this to diversify the versatility, sound & flow overall for sure.
I get very attached to some of the sparest sounds sometimes, especially at the beginning or end of a lot of Murawski’s tunes. Like, the first minute or final thirty seconds of “A Leap Of Faith,” I could pretty much listen to from now until the end of time, and that’s not to say I wasn’t enjoying myself up to that point already…I’m just saying that’s genuine audible serenity in sound you won’t wanna take your ears off of is all. Much like I felt about “Invocations,” I’d be willing to bet that an even more isolated & hollow mix where it might just be the piano & nothing more could be equally incredible when it comes to “A Leap Of Faith” too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of pretty much everything I hear in this tune if not the whole of it, I’m just advocating for subtracting just as much as adding in the pursuit of art & music. And because I’m a critic-journalist-guy, I totally get away with it too; no matter what happens, if you give me too much or too little, you better believe I’ll be on the other side of the fence demanding the opposite of whatever I’m given – we’re never satisfied I tells ya! I kid, I kid – I’m more than satisfied with “A Leap Of Faith” – I love the way the chords of the piano strengthen around the thirty-second mark at the beginning of this song…right from that moment forward, Glenn’s takes you from admiring the sound to being right on the edge of your seat to listen as this adventure unfolds. Poised, composed, graceful…”A Leap Of Faith” is anything but dull – this track shines like a true gem and continually reveals new depths to its stunning sound as it plays on. At its thickest, it swallows you right up…and I’ll admit, maybe the organs around the 2:50 mark weren’t totally my jam – but when the storm subsides and the calm serenity of the ending appears to you, the entire journey we’ve taken to get to that point, makes complete and total sense all of a sudden. When you arrive at the end of “A Leap Of Faith,” you know it; I’ve often said a great song is just like a great speech…no one should have to ask for applause, you know when it’s over and when to stand up & cheer, because you feel that conclusiveness. This song has that.
“Waiting” brought it home at the end of the Electronic Melodies album originally, the second time it appeared on that particular record, which makes this new appearance on Revisions & Remasters: Volume 3, actually the third crack at what’s still a great tune. It’s had the vocal treatment, it’s had the instrumental form, and now we’ve got the Redux version here along with the others on this new record from Glenn Murawski…and I felt like “Waiting” was still a good choice to anchor the set with a reliable cut that works right at the end to go out on. I love that twist in the sound that the strings bring in around the 1:20 mark and how much additional space it seems to open up in the entire atmosphere of “Waiting” – it’s not just highly effective, but highly enticing to listen to with the selection of textures & layers Glenn incorporates into this last track. He’s got the advantage somewhat of hindsight & knowing what works at this point…a lot of Revisions & Remasters: Volume 3 plays like a greatest-hits collection gathered from the Murawski music catalog…but that only guarantees a great lineup of songs for you to listen to, so don’t let me catch ya complainin.’ He’s made wise choices throughout this whole set-list and noticeably improved upon his past by revitalizing & refreshing a whole bunch of great songs – and as always, leaves us with no doubt that he’ll be around to release a whole bunch more in the future.
Speaking of that…I better get this review out onto the internet pronto.
One last note to prove my point about how quickly Glenn Murawski is moving with his music right now to fully clarify what I’ve been saying beyond any possibility of having my words twisted…I haven’t been even remotely kidding around here folks. When I started writing this review, he was an EP ahead, as I pointed out at the very beginning – and now, by the time we’re posting this up, he’s ALREADY put out another in April – TODAY in fact. No kidding…I hit the refresh button on my web browser as I was posting this all up, and there was another shiny record cover already added to his catalog…it’s called The Lone Soldier – figured I’d come back & write one last paragraph to confirm what I’ve been tellin’ ya…this guy is working on music around the clock and it’s inspiring to hear & witness Glenn Murawski excel in his passion, and create a legacy of music & catalog of tunes completely of his own design.
You’ll get his music faster at Bandcamp than you will by reading about it here, trust me! Go dive in and take a swim in the deep end & have a listen to Glenn Murawski here: https://glennmurawski.bandcamp.com
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