Glenn Murawski – Still At Dusk… – Album Review
Welcome to the struggle.
January has been a tough month for pretty much anything to do with music outside of actually listening to it so far if you ask me. I became a part of one of those ‘groups’ on Facebook that is filled with a whole bunch of people from back in the day around where I grew up, and I’m already seeing countless posts about how music just isn’t the same, isn’t as good, there aren’t any good bands out there anymore, yadda, yadda, yadda (and insert more absolutely invalid nonsense I don’t agree with as well). Then there’s the farce that is the Grammy-Awards…something I can only hope there’s not a single one of you out there ever focused on…not so much because you can’t achieve it, but yikes, because you can! And gross! After all the brain malfunctions they’ve had and their wholesale exclusion of a vast majority & wealth of music out there – do you really wanna be a part of that crowd? Good lord I hope not. Yet year after year, I see people agreeing that this part of the industry is still what measure the entire thing – and that’s so far from the truth at this point, it simply makes me shake my head in shock & disbelief.
Artist Glenn Murawski is fighting a much more exciting battle, but a battle all the same. No introduction necessary to you all by now I’m sure, he’s up here on our pages for the sixth time in less than a year’s time – which, in the world according to Bandcamp, is half of the current length of his catalog online.
Consider that extraordinary level of inspiration and output for a second will ya? Not only is it consistently constant, but the quality has always been exceptional as well when it comes to his ideas. And so here he is, releasing TONS of music for you all to enjoy…and he’s now coming up against the reality that…well…that honestly, it’s a slim minority of us that do really listen nowadays with our minimal attention spans and tendency to click on something else that’s shiny before whatever we’re watching or listening to currently is even finished. That’s not to say there aren’t many fans of Glenn’s music out there – I know there are, because I’ve been one of them from the moment I started listening – but the harsh reality of the way people listen to music, is that they rarely have ‘time’ or don’t give it the full attention it deserves. You artists & bands know all too well…how many times have you asked a friend or family for their opinion on your latest tune or record, and received a “I think it’s great” and nothing more? And that’s if they even actually took the time to listen at all, which isn’t always the case.
It’s the hardest part of a musical reality to accept. I’ll fully admit, if I continued to dwell on all this, or try to battle against it…I’d have probably quit altogether, long, long ago. It’s a genuine case of something we can’t ever change…sure you can write that hit record, hit single, or win that Grammy one day – but if you’re really being honest with yourself, you know in your heart of hearts, that people will only listen so much. And therein lies the trick to acceptance…it’s in knowing that people value their time in a completely different way than musicians do, that we begin to realize that anyone out there giving your full album a spin even just ONCE in their lifetime, is actually the highest of compliments. Spin it twice and you’ve done much more than the average everyday listener will ever do…you’re the true fans. Anything beyond that, is to be measured as superhuman nowadays…you’re the rare gems of the scene. So while it might appear or seem like no one’s ever listening…they actually are, just in their own way.
All that being said, there are slight things in your control…but barely, when it comes to how people listen to your music. Some will tell ya to put out a single a month, an album every two years, to be constantly in the face of the people, or sparing enough with your releases that the people notice. And there’s not a single right answer or shortcut to the top…it’s always much more of a matter of constantly spreading the word and doing what you can to find places online that’ll help you accomplish that. Sure, Glenn’s been inspired to create music around the clock and released somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve records over the past two years or less…and that’s great…but it still doesn’t change how much time other people out there can devote to listening, or how much they will. In fact, some will find the expansive catalog outright intimidating, as opposed to embracing how much awesomeness there is to discover…again, it’s the nature of the beast, and nothing we can ever take personally. Perhaps having one release come out after the other in such a rapid succession thwarts the potential for listening – but maybe it encourages it with others too. Like I’ve been saying…it’s not a science we can fully understand.
But if you were to ask me which side of the fence I’d be on, it’s a pretty easy answer. It just depends on what you’re in it for…and sometimes that needs to be re-examined for what’s important. Is it more important to create, or to have people listen? Is it more important to express yourself in art, or is it more important to get feedback from others about what you’ve created? Is it the process, the craft, the journey, and the experience that you love – or is it the final results? I’ve always kept my head down and did the work…I don’t care what most people think of what I do, I don’t keep track of numbers/statistics, I don’t measure myself up against the world – I just bring what I can to it, every day, without exception.
Validate your own existence…that’s the only way an artist can ever satisfy themselves, if they ever do.
Create, write, record, and play like no one out there’s even listening…and I betcha, one day, they will be.
The point is…the issue is actually on the other end…people are strange in how they choose to listen to music. Don’t be discouraged…stay the course…create until your heart’s content. Nothing else matters.
Glenn Murawski’s new album Still At Dusk… opens with the curious sounds of “The Ever Opening Chambers Of Darkness” and a mix of sweet & serious atmospheric sounds starting this latest experience. At just shy of four & a half-minutes in length, it’s the second shortest cut on this record of ten tunes…and that should tell you a bit already about the ambitions this composer has created this time around. I loved how the vocal melody seeps into this song…or…at least, that’s what I think I’m hearing & that’s what I love about it…it could be synthetic, it could be organic…whatever is creating it, it’s the real beauty that shines in behind the looming darkness that shrouds this song like a bold shadow. Like many of Glenn’s most successful tracks from his past catalog, it’s quite often the inherent allure of such noticeable contrast that continues to captivate us, and pull us into the spectacular ideas he puts forth. Overall, in comparison to many of the tracks throughout this new album, you’ll likely find that “The Ever Opening Chambers Of Darkness” contains a little less than most when it comes to its selection of sounds, or even in the idea itself…it’s a somewhat skeletal melody, but even within the sparest of audio-environments, you’ll find that Murawski still possesses all the right tools at his disposal to make the impact you’re looking for. Tracks like “The Ever Opening Chambers Of Darkness” beautifully haunt the room as you listen, giving you just enough mystery & melody to establish real weight in its emotion.
“Acquiescence Of Fate” got me on board right away. At the outset, it reminds me of unique fringe projects like Colleen, Ugo Capeto, and maybe a little bit of 800 Cherries in there for good measure…and then as it gets more intense, shifts towards something more akin to Mogwai or The Album Leaf. Glenn’s clearly an audiophile like myself…and I suppose we’re both counting on a whole lot more of you being out there…because you should freakin’ LOVE what’s happening in this song. Not only is the chunky bass completely kicking as with the grittiest sounds, but like…LISTEN to the roll that Glenn goes on with the harmonics around the 3:15 mark will ya? BLOODY BRILLIANT BUD. Full-stop. “Acquiescence Of Fate” proves that comment on the contrast in Glenn’s music to be correct once again, and confirms you just can’t beat the appeal it has. Everything here counts for something special and something significant from the sound to the structure – the combination of string sounds, or cello what-have-you, combined with the ever-impressive layers of bass, guitar, and drums…c’mon now people…you gotta recognize a masterstroke when you hear one. “Acquiescence Of Fate” is staggeringly powerful at its maximum intensity, and moment by moment, this song grows into a true force to be reckoned with, before quickly deconstructing to bare-bones for the final twenty or thirty seconds to create the definitive conclusion. What a freakin’ fascinating ride this song is! For a second’s shy of being eight-minutes long, it’s certainly no small achievement to create a cut as engaging as this song is, it’s actually quite the monumental task. Texture, tone, movement, structure, innovation, ideas, commitment, conviction…you name it, and you’ll find that “Acquiescence Of Fate” has it all & then some – it’s massively ambitious & executed perfectly.
Serenity reigns supreme on the chilled out sounds of “On The Horizon,” which is a track I’d be willing to bet becomes universally loved by any set of ears listening out there. Breathtakingly beautiful & delicate, the melody of “On The Horizon” soars and floats around you like this whole song is gliding on a cushion of air. I’m really impressed with a lot of the completeness you’ll find in these new instrumental tunes and how satisfying the experience of listening to that can be; we just experienced one throughout the massive length of “Acquiescence Of Fate” and you’ll experience another with “On The Horizon” as well. Albeit, this time around, it’s just over four-minutes long…there’s half the time to work with, but Glenn finds a way to make 100% of the impact you wanna hear through the most delicate of means. Combining the warmth of string sounds and a gentle electro beat in behind, Murawski navigates his way through the subtle twists & turns of “On The Horizon” like the seasoned veteran of the scene he’s fast become. As chill as chill can be, “On The Horizon” is that song you know you can always seek out whenever you want to drift away sweetly into your thoughts and escape the heinousness of the 9-5.
Dude’s on a serious roll of success with the songs on Still At Dusk…, I’d put “Chamber Of Dismay” up there with some of the best in his catalog for sure. Whether it’s the adventurous spirit in the music, the added tension and drama, or the heights of the melody…or really anything else you can think of in between, Murawski’s done a great job of creating a really unique cut with “Chamber Of Dismay” that reveals a ton of his chops & potential at once. No reason this dude couldn’t be scoring soundtracks if that’s what he wanted to do with his music, and songs like this confirm that – you can practically see different scenes flash through your mind as this tune plays from moment to moment with such inspired & imaginative sound. Everything is so vivid, so clear, so vibrant…and largely unpredictable…this cut is surprising in all the right ways and plays like a cinematic journey you can see in your mind’s eye. Perfectly developed, never moving too fast or too slowly, the balance of uniqueness and engaging sound is spot-on throughout the way “Chamber Of Dismay” flows & sounds – and opposed to what might be implied in the title itself, you’ll likely discover an array of hopeful moments peering through the dark. The most major switch it makes in the twist around the 3:30 mark is also right on the money, shifting the direction of sound just enough to feel like the switch breathes a complete second life into this tune. Highly artistic and altogether stunning – “Chamber Of Dismay” is an exceptional song by any measure.
Now…don’t get me wrong…I’ll stick with this dude in any direction he wants to take his music…just remember though, I’m quite often the exception to the rule. Chances are, before it gets to the main melody at the center of “Burning Twilight” around the fifty-second mark, or the evolution of the song when it incorporates the beat around the 1:45 mark soon after…it’s gonna be one of the tougher cuts from this set for the people to connect to. Not impossible, just tougher, especially by comparison to the smoothness & accessible doses of melody experienced in the two tracks just prior to “Burning Twilight.” Keep in mind, Glenn’s a composer and an artist when it comes right down to it…and just the same as you’d find in great storytelling, great songwriting can also take time to develop fully. As in, sit down & be prepared to listen for a while…he’s not just going to lay all his cards down on the table at once in any scenario – like a magician in the realm of music, he uses the art of the reveal to his advantage. Some tunes ask for a bit more faith than the others do, and “Burning Twilight” is an example where a little bit in Glenn and what he creates will go a long way…once it’s in full-swing, there’s a smorgasbord of sound to latch onto and love. I’ll say this…it IS kind of an odd inclusion into the lineup of this particular record – especially when you consider it’s virtually sandwiched between what are arguably two of the strongest songs you’ll find on Still At Dusk… – “Burning Twilight” is a decent track, but not quite built of the same mettle as the rest perhaps…a little clunky at times, fully inviting at others…more uneven than most cuts. I’d argue that the appeal & accessibility of this song finds more strength the longer it searches for it – and really, by the middle of “Burning Twilight,” there’s not a whole lot left to complain about. Still a good tune…I don’t know if it’s quite up to the extraordinary standards being set in this record’s first-half – but it’s close enough to not shake up the cohesive threads that run throughout this album too much.
I’m pretty comfortable declaring “Dreaming” as one of my all-time favorite Murawski tunes as well I’d say…it’s a truly gorgeous song, stuffed right to the brim with heartfelt sincerity and stunning emotion. I love that he’s able to create such a compelling amount of sound with a lot of noticeable space as well…like I said, each moment, every element he adds in…it all counts for something. It’s such a charming and humble song when it comes right down to it…the kind of song that feels like you’re right there in the room, witnessing this immaculate & intimate moment in time for yourself. Proving that he can fully pull off the short cuts every bit as much as the long ones, “Dreaming” radiates a simple sincerity that’s quick to connect to the heartstrings. The chord progression in the piano alone is worth the price of admission, and hearing how this quaint beauty continues to develop so magnificently gives your ears one of the most subtly enjoyable experiences it’ll have this year. “Dreaming” isn’t going to punch you in the face with sound to make an impression – it earns it completely through clever composition that delivers real emotion from the lefts to the right. Glenn’s moving at a captivating pace throughout this song that gives you every opportunity to process the beauty you’ll discover on “Dreaming” in-full. Likely one of the most accessible cuts you’ll find on Still At Dusk…, “Dreaming” has the kind of pure melody that makes it extremely easy to stick with its design and enjoy this tune 100%.
“Chamber Of Truth” is probably a harder track to examine…it’s got some serious positives and a few elements going against it I’d assume. One being the sheer depth and more involved sound…there’s a complexity that exists here in the structure that’s generally going to be tougher for the everyday listener to follow along with, the other main factor being that the piano melody could be a bit grating to some here…maybe. It’s hard to say…some will dig on the passion to be found there, some will probably feel there’s a bit too much edge in the way the keys are attacked on this tune…that’ll be an individual thing. For myself personally, I’ve come to find that any time Murawski takes to the piano, I usually love it – but when it comes to the “Chamber Of Truth,” I’m probably much more in favor of everything but that particular instrument this time around, even though it’s obviously essential to this whole song. Ya can’t blame me if the facts are as they are – everything else happening in the swirl of sound outside of & around the piano is simply more interesting to listen to…that’s kinda all there is to it. While I might not be fully sold on how much of a role the piano plays this time around, I think there’s a ton of value in the surrounding elements like the hypnotic tension & passion that Murawski applies to “Chamber Of Truth” that will still be strong enough to pull in the people to listen, but this cut does feel a little less focused overall by comparison to the majority of the music you’ll find throughout the course of Still At Dusk….
The low-end melody of “Prayers For Sleeping” is immensely satisfying to listen to…so thick & rich & full of sound that invades your soul swiftly. Sometimes there’s nothing more you can ask of Glenn Murawski other than exactly what he gives ya – and this song is indeed one of those times. There’s nothing about “Prayers For Sleeping” that I’d ever dare to change…it’s essentially a perfect moment in time, fully preserved. While it’ll likely appear a bit more stoic of an idea because of the prevalence of the main hooks, you’ll hear a subtle evolution and expansion to this composition that slyly hits the mark bang-on. Does he maybe go a little over the top in the final moments with the string sounds taking over? Maybe. If anything, I could listen to an argument for that & I’d probably end up agreeing…but beyond that last forty-seconds or so, there’s nothing debatable about the awesomeness in this song. Once it slides into its main theme of ascending & descending progressions and you’re right at the heart of “Prayers For Sleeping,” it’ll give you that audible warmth you wanna feel…and you’ll wanna stay right here, locked right into this moment, listening intently with everything you’ve got. I tell ya…when Murawski latches onto something special, it’s always something you can hear completely – “Prayers For Sleeping” gives you a sweet dose of the care he puts into his compositions and yields captivating results.
While the strings at the end of “Prayers For Sleeping” do become enormous as that song finishes up, you’ll find that in terms of the context of this record and its flow, it does wonders to give the following song, “Chamber Of Serenity,” the ability to make an extraordinary impact. With a series of ice-like & crystalline sounds, Glenn expertly uses space to his advantage all throughout this entire song, giving you the opportunity to absorb every sweet morsel of sound you can stuff into your ears. And believe me, you will WANT to do that…”Chamber Of Serenity” is another downright fascinating cut from Glenn Murawski that shows just how innovative and artistic he can be with the design of his music. While its collection of twinkling & sparkling sounds will continue to expand and evolve in their own way, I think he’s done right by this song by not having it actually change too much from the original impression it establishes. This was one of those ideas best left to its most essential ingredients, and that’s exactly what Glenn gives ya…and as per usual, when he goes this route, every ticking second becomes a standout moment you want to rant & rave about. Like, half the magic of this song is in the harmonics once again – and that’s likely the last thing most people are even bound to notice! He hasn’t got them buried in the mix – they’re right where they should be…everything on a track like “Chamber Of Serenity” plays a complementary role and serves the true needs of the song at-large. And as a result, Murawski comes out with another spectacular stunner of eight-minutes-plus for the second time on this album. Definitely one of the most incredibly understated tunes I think I’ve ever heard in my entire life, “Chamber Of Serenity” had my full attention, without question, every single time this song came on.
The final track “Towards The Light” provides that contemplative feeling and depth of dimension in sound that we’ve come to know and love from this dude, and puts a wrap on what’s been another excellent experience all around with Glenn Murawski’s music. Each time I’ve had the pleasure to listen, he’s always brought out something that’s truly moved me…and from the incredible highlights along the way like “Acquiescence Of Fate,” “Dreaming,” “Chamber Of Serenity,” and this final cut “Towards The Light” in addition to many others on this record, it’s clear he’s done it again. There’s a true wealth of ideas and ambition in this artist…and in that sense, I doubt any of us listening will ever be let down by a new Murawski record, know what I mean? His dedication & skill consistently lead him in the right directions…and ultimately, that’s how you end up with the incredible batting average this guy has when it comes to making music that connects. “Towards The Light” is another in a series of strong tunes that you’ll find throughout the lineup on Still At Dusk…; it might be hard to argue it’s the full-on favorite from the entire bunch, but there’s no doubt that the powerful echo of the piano chords make for a noteworthy ending to this new record. Another solid job on this material from production to performance – and if you were to ask me, I hear every reason he should continue doing what he loves and remain fully immersed in the true love of the craft, regardless of who’s listening, or who’s not.
Find music by Glenn Murawski at Bandcamp here: https://glennmurawski.bandcamp.com
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