Glenn Murawski – The Book Of G

 Glenn Murawski – The Book Of G

Glenn Murawski – The Book Of G – Album Review

Don’t take any guff from these swine.

Sometimes I’m genuinely surprised by how I haven’t tattooed that phrase somewhere onto my body by this point in life…it’s such a beautiful summation of my experience in life and even more specifically, how I pretty much feel about all music-journalism in general, up to & including my own.  At the end of the day, you’ll find me just as likely to believe in the old adage that we’re “all just a-holes with opinions” – because from what I can tell, that’s always been true without dispute – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  When it comes to critiques and what’s written here on these pages of ours, it’s merely that & nothing more – I become that opinion with an a-hole – and whether there’s value in these words or not has always been up to you to decide…as artists & bands, and as readers & listeners, respectively.  I have not, nor would I ever, actually recommend taking my advice or comments to mean anything more than those you’d get from anywhere else – maybe I’ve been crazy all along – does anyone really know?

Anyhow.  I put that infamous Hunter S. Thompson quote up top, because it applies here today.  If you’ve been reading the series of reviews I’ve been writing about Glenn Murawski and his million records over these past couple years, and more specifically read the last one I wrote on his record The Crux Of Consciousness…well…let’s just say I didn’t exactly give him the gears, but I did poke at him a little in regards to slowing it all down, shortening things up, and taking a bit more time with his music.  All as sincere as it always is – I might not recommend anyone take my word for anything at all, but at the same time, anything I’ve ever written has been with the sole intention of doing my best to assist everyone I’ve ever listened to in reaching that next-level they & their music deserve.  Glenn’s certainly no different in that respect; and at this point, he’s quite likely gotten used to what I’ve got to say & probably knows more or less what my reaction is going to be each time a brand-new record hits my playlists over here.

So the question becomes…how did our good friend Mr. Murawski choose to respond to my comments?

Well, he instantly made another record, and in five days time, because of course.  #DontTakeAnyGuffFromTheseSwineOrJer@SBSEither!

And you know what?  Just the mere receiving OF this new record made me smile.  You all do you, I’ll keep doing me – that’s all I’ve ever wanted, and all I’ve ever hoped for.  Almost every time I send out an interview I remind everyone that each question is an opportunity to RESPOND – and in no way, shape, or form am I suggesting that means in any way whatsoever that you have to actually answer the question – you see what I’m getting at here?  I appreciate it greatly when artists & bands out there go their own way, do their own thing, and stick to whatever it is THEY love…and damn near without compromise; or at the very least, not doing a damn thing to appease me over here, who am I?  Take more time with your music Glenn?  No thanks Jer @ SBS, here’s more music instead.  Honestly, in so many ways & as much as I might stand by my previous opinion, obviously; I couldn’t have been prouder.  Be the artists you are…not the artists anyone else out there wants you to be.  Take the advice you feel is relevant, toss the rest straight into the dustbin, and keep on keepin’ on doing what YOU love to do – that’s all that is ever going to matter, full-stop.  Stay true to who you are and let that be reflected in what you create – and whatever it is that you do, remember – “don’t take any guff from these swine.

Glenn took my last review as a personal challenge to his art & what he’s capable of, and rightly so – that’s essentially the stick I was poking him with.  How he responded says so much about his strength & character both as an artist & human being…and I just gotta say folks, it’s genuinely inspiring – he dove straight back into the recording booth and recorded eleven new songs in five short days.  “Take more time” he said…and so, Murawski did the exact opposite and put the pedal to the medal, even faster than he did when he created his record The Elements for the 7-Days Of VGM Challenge.  Those of you who regularly read these pages of ours are familiar with that album from last year, which went on to make our top-ten list of nominations in our annual quest for the Best New Sound at our homepage.  On a visual level alone, what I can tell you about Murawski’s new record The Book Of G, is that he’s found a way to both do what he does AND change things up…it’s not a compromise; it’s solid, gradual evolution in the art & craft that reveals another potential direction for where Glenn’s music can go.  Because as we all know at this point, he could roll out of bed & fall onto a brand-new song…that is, if he ever slept.

As I was saying, some of the changes made you can see before you even push play – the main one being song length; at just over thirty-six minutes total, there’s no question that this is quite likely the shortest full-sized record he’s put out so far.  A concept record based largely on his own life, the music flowed right outta him quickly as it tends to, eleven cuts came out, and here we are now, with The Book Of G.  “Emergence” opens the record with a stuttered digital glow amidst a warm atmosphere as it expands, and the detonates around the forty-five second mark as it shifts gears.  Cleverly using vocal-keys all chopped up creatively to catch our interest, and a great use of traditional instrumentation in the sound & digital style he’s blended together at the beginning, “Emergence” is only a short 2:14 in total length, and that’s gotta be a new Murawski record if we’re getting right down to it.  Mission accomplished here – “Emergence” comes out tightly and still finds insightful ways of morphing itself from start to finish to keep everyone listening fully engaged, but perhaps even more importantly, wanting more of what they just heard because a 2:14 lil’ sliver is almost never gonna be enough…and that’s a damn good thing.  It’s completely okay to leave us wanting a second helping or a third – that’s what the repeat button is for.

Off to a good start Mr. Murawski, yessir.  He’ll go on to expand the timeframe of his second cut, and deliver this tune in two fairly significant chapters of its own design.  Though “Irretrievable” will spring to life around the forty-second mark or so similarly to how the opening tune sparked up at the same point in time, admittedly, this track ends up staying a bit more one-dimensional in each half of what’s revealed.  Nothing wrong with the method itself mind you, but it’s quite possible that it will induce that inherent comparison between the two halves, as each are miles different from each other; still cohesive enough to belong together, but unique to themselves, you follow me?  So for myself personally, while the opening two-thirty of “Irretrievable” was still more than solid Murawski music to listen to, it wasn’t until after that point that this particular cut went on to truly wow me.  Again, in terms of self-editing & restraint & being objective & all that, it’s not always easy to identify the strongest parts of a song or predict what’s going to land successfully with listeners out there, nor should either of these things be at the forefront of anyone’s mind when making music ANYWAY – but it does almost make you wonder if there are actually two songs here, instead of just the one.  Like I was saying, I’m definitely not opposed to what I hear in the beginning of “Irretrievable” – sure, it’s good – but the latter half is all-out stunning.  Subtle as it gets though…it’s not like it’s gonna be the moment that gets Murawski on the radio & that’s not what I’m arguing or what he makes music for to begin with – I’m just simply pointing out the effect of having two defined-halves of a song joined together where they’re not alternating verse/chorus/verse like so many tunes do – when they come through in a linear way where one idea starts, finishes, and the next begins, we’re bound to find our favorite moment within that single experience, just like we would with the entire set-list, you dig?

He’s made it way harder for me to make my case about shorter songs with the start of this record containing the majority of its longest cuts in the first half of The Book Of G – just keep in mind, I’ve had this thing on repeat, and that does play a role here.  In the context of having shorter material on this album overall for him, and in listening to a record like this on repeat, the natural effect can often be that the longer songs WILL stand out & pop a bit more when it comes to attracting our attention & interest as a result.  So while these songs would probably still be a hair or two shorter than his normal length on any other record he’s made or almost comparable directly, it plays out differently if you’re looping these songs over & over like I have been in listening to The Book Of G to write about it here.  You notice ideas like “Sunken State” and the remarkably creative design it has, the extra space it has to present its layers of emotional depth, and how he’s used that additional time to get the most out of every moment.  The way this song evolves & expands with its mastery of curious & mysterious melody meeting a subtle but substantially intense design that increases the drama, tension, and beauty from beginning to end was impeccable.  Absolutely one of my favorite tracks on the entire album, “Sunken State” is full proof that when Glenn’s focused on every second, he’s as sharp as it gets and more than capable of delivering the uniqueness, style, and sound your ears will crave to listen to, as opposed to simply enjoying your time.  I’m outright in-love with the way “Sunken State” starts and the first eighty seconds or-so, but believe me when I tell ya I certainly wasn’t complaining about the rest to follow whatsoever – Murawski crafts a brilliant instrumental in this third cut that’s moving, entertaining, and equally spellbinding…it’s genius.

Love the work with the harmonics in the melodic design of “The World Is Yours” – that’s probably the main highlight for me here, along with the stellar rumble of the low-end in the bass-lines.  This would be a great example of what Glenn Murawski creates, as a kind of overall representation of the sound & style he puts into his music and the high-degree of professional control he’s got in performance & production.  He’ll tell ya he’s just a regular dude, but make no mistake, he’s got a tremendous ear for sound and how to use its dynamics effectively to keep you listening, engaged, and entertained.  In some ways, I do feel similarly towards “The World Is Yours” as I do about the beginning half of “Irretrievable” – but at the same time, you gotta acknowledge a signature style for what it truly IS – this is Glenn doing Glenn better than anyone else there could ever do Glenn and that’s definitely something to recognize.  As a longtime fan now myself, there are moments where the innovative & creative side get flexed in more unique ways from what I’ve heard in his past tunes than I personally find in “The World Is Yours,” but I’ve definitely got no argument against the quality & tightness in the end results here.  If you hadn’t heard Murawski’s music ever before, this would be an instant gateway in and a highly enticing first impression without question – it’s only with as many experiences as someone like I’ve had with his tunes that there’s a chance this one comes out more on the similar side of his catalog.  When it comes right down to it though, he’s starting to remind me of Lyua Dust a lot, and quite a bit in this tune truthfully; if you know anything about me & my underground music gems, that’s one of my favorites from the scene.

“Tragic Darkness” is a solid example of what I was referring to in my previous review of Glenn’s music and rockin’ it tightly within a short timeframe if that’s what the core of the idea really is; to essentially leave it at that & nothing more, lest we taint the awesomeness with a bit of randomness type-thing.  That being said, it’s harder to say if this is the right ‘one’ of those ideas that’s gonna land or connect – I was never really sure about this track if I’m being 100% honest.  Harder to get jazzed by with its more murky atmosphere & melancholy mood I suppose…and I guess when it comes right down to it, if you’re gonna choose to rock that one gear for the most-part, that piece has gotta stand out unquestionably, and I was just never completely convinced that “Tragic Darkness” had quite enough of the boldness it needed to make a memorable impact on listeners out there.  I’m not saying it’s impossible – I’m saying it was a little perplexing on this side of the speakers at all – you might very well listen to The Book Of G and decide this track is one of your favorites, and I’d be left with no real argument to be had in support of otherwise.  I never skipped it, how about putting it that way?  That’ll tell ya a little, but it really won’t tell ya a lot – I’d honestly be pretty hard pressed to just pass over anything Murawski has made on this record or in the past for that matter; at the end of the day, I’ve always got room for the music he makes.  For myself, I like “Tragic Darkness” enough that I’d always listen – it’s more of a question about whether or not something like this would be exciting enough for those out there just getting into Glenn’s tunes.

Context matters though, as it always does.  Were it not for the kind of sadly flat spirit of “Tragic Darkness,” would “Vision Of Hope” come out blossoming as beautifully as it does right afterwards?  I’d have to honestly guess that it likely wouldn’t, not at all.  The endearing sincerity in the sound of “Vision Of Hope” is immediately appealing, humble, and thoughtfully laid out – I have zero doubt whatsoever that this will probably be the favorite for many listeners out there, and rightly so, it’s a truly great tune.  I love the space in this song…it’s like we’re drifting along with Glenn as he sifts through his thoughts & feelings in real-time…and you get to experience an insightful structure that both delivers tightly on its core melody, but also embraces the freedom to roam creatively, and even a bit aimlessly.  Normally, that’s not exactly something you’d want, but that looseness really pays off here whenever Murawski mixes a little of that in along the way throughout “Vision Of Hope” – the entire song really embraces its dreamy sound & wandering spirit, and I fully believe listeners out there will love what they find in that.  Hearing moments like around the 2:45 mark are breathtaking…that’s where you hear everything really snap into focus and come into play to hit the maximum potential in the melody, and it’s 100% fantastic.  While “Vision Of Hope” tends to rely on its digital pulse to guide it along, make no mistake dear readers, dear friends, there’s more organic sincerity & heart in this tune than most can put into an entire album.  Once again completely nailing the opening…listen to the sparkling clarity and compelling way “Vision Of Hope” reveals itself…the entire first eighty seconds feels like we’re all witnessing something wonderfully special…fragile, delicate, exquisitely beautiful…indelibly charming & sweet…it’s got it all, and then some.

“Tumultuous.”  Indeed.  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat are we doin’ here brother-man?  Y’all and your concept albums I tells ya.  Alright…so…once again, context matters – I’m just not 100% sure it’s gonna make the entire difference here, but I’ll be happy to argue on behalf of why this actually makes sense conceptually, even if “Tumultuous” is probably gonna throw everyone for a loop when listening to The Book Of G.  First of all, go back and read the interview we just published with Glenn Murawski not too long ago, and essentially, you’ll find all the answers right there in what he has to say about who he is, how he operates, and in the authenticity of his true character.  As a man that’s battled depression for as long as he’s been alive himself over here on this side of the screen and continues to kick its ass in through music each and every day – I’m still well aware of the ebb & flow of the intensity of emotions & feelings and how quickly it can go from being maintained to completely outta control, and I monitor the living daylights outta how I’m really doing, you know, on the inside, every single minute of every day.  I know that regular sleeping & eating patterns lead to the evenness that can quickly get out of control for me personally – but I also know that it’s in the most frantic & scattered moments where I’m right on the edge of my own sanity that I also feel the most creative & ALIVE.  Like anyone battling depression and likely Glenn himself who has always been upfront about his own struggles – we’re essentially then asked to somehow trade this extraordinary GIFT of our own creativity in a cruel exchange for a predictability & calm in our own behavior.  And that…is…fuck, that’s just boring, and there’s no other way to put it.  Many of us learn to somehow live through the worst lows in order to reach those creative heights and it’s the scariest, most exciting line you’ll ever walk…you live in fear of falling off the edge, but compelled at the magnificence of what could possibly be ahead, so you keep going, cycle after cycle, wash, rinse, repeat.  Will there be “Tumultuous” and inexplicable moments along the way?  You bet your ass there will be.  That’s what this song is and what it represents, like it or not.  It’s a TOUGH shift in sound from the splendor of the serenity & the sweetness of the melody in “Vision Of Hope” right beforehand, but on a conceptual level, on a record that’s based on Glenn personally, I totally get why it’s been included.  We simply cannot predict when the most “Tumultuous” times are going to show up, even if we think we’re in full control of our emotions & feelings – the fact remains, they can rage out of control at any moment.  We can be on guard as best we can be, and still find ourselves in a tornado of “Tumultuous” noise in the thick of our thoughts without so much as even warning sign – once again folks, that’s what this IS about.

“Ennui” felt like a version of “Tragic Darkness” where everything went perfectly right instead – it has all the spark & genuinely interesting sound I was looking for earlier on, with a similarly mysterious & mischievous vibe that’ll haunt the empty halls of your soul.  That is, at least, until Murawski lets a bit of warmth & comfort into this song by the time it finishes…you’ll find he brings in just enough light & hope into the mix before “Ennui” is over so that we don’t all leave this cut completely devastated.  Locking into a highly impressive and captivating groove that boasts big, bold sound and crystal clarity in its most delicate moments as well – the drama & intensity are completely on high here for the entirety of its first two minutes, keeping you right on the edge of your seat for every second, and then allowing you to somehow blissfully relax by the end and know that everything is somehow gonna be okay.  It’s the audio equivalent of seeing Michael Myers standing outside of your window with his trusty knife raised up over his head and lightning flashing behind him malevolently, only to discover he brought over tea & biscuits and really just wants to have a sit down heart-to-heart chat about the upcoming PTA meeting instead.  C’mon now folks – how many songs are you gonna hear with a description like that one eh?  I’m tellin’ ya – it’s just that awesome!  Excellent transition in this tune…”Ennui” lightens up the darkness just enough to send away the demons for the moment in its finale, but if you’re listening closely, you’ll find just a tiny fraction of their spirit remains…whether it’s intentional or not, or if I’m just reading too much into this I don’t know, but within the context of the concept of The Book Of G, this song ended up feeling like an audible allusion to how things like depression and the storms inside us can get better, but how it all never leaves us either…it remains part of us, more hidden & subdued, like this song becomes; love it.

Let’s be real…eleven songs, five days – could you do it?  And IF you could – would it come out as good as whatever your opinion of the least appealing song on this record might be?  If you’re being objective & honest, probably not right?  Most of us couldn’t.  Like, I probably wouldn’t put “All But Destroyed” up there in my top ten of all time by a fair margin – but am I REALLY going to complain in knowing that he’s cooked this up and served it to us within a five-day timeframe?  Technically, if we’re all being real, this entire album is an achievement in itself simply for its overall consistency & the fact that it EXISTS.  So no, I’m not really gone gripe about any of these cuts considering how quickly he put’em all together and the fact that it all genuinely sounds great in one way or another, as most all Murawski music truly does to me.  Having said that though, as much as I love the production on this tune even more so than some of the rest on this record, which is lined with stellar quality in sound from start to finish – there were some stranger things that popped up in this track for me that had me questioning things a little.  Most specifically in the drums here I suppose.  When you know how a dude maps out his music, it becomes real tough to argue that something’s out of place you see, but…well let’s just say that doesn’t mean there can’t be an odd fit occasionally, even if something is technically on-beat.  I liked the acoustic vibes and how they added into the song…maybe felt like they could have even somehow played a more starring role in this cut, given that’s more of a noticeable difference than the digital pulse Glenn will quite often add in.  Once again though, overall, if it seems like I’m complaining, I ain’t – I wouldn’t ever pass over “All But Destroyed” – there’s just a difference between a great tune and a jaw-dropping one.

Speaking of…”Connections” was probably the cut that brought clarity to that difference the most.  With its crystalline sound, slow movement and heavy spirit, it’s not a track I’d necessarily assume is going to resonate with everyone out there, but it certainly was a highlight on The Book Of G for me as a listener.  Of all the songs on this album that I was most likely to check the ol’ repeat-1 function and hang out a lil’ longer with in a couple rotations through this record, this tended to be the one that had me clicking that the most.  It’s not something I always do, mind you, but with “Connections” and the distinctly different vibe it has from just about everything other song with the exception of the back-end of “Irretrievable” earlier on towards the very beginning…I dunno…I just found it incredibly easy to sit back & be fascinated by this cut.  Almost like it induces a spiritual calm, or a meditative trance…the ingredients of “Connections” are fairly minimal, but used to maximum potential – and the space itself is every bit as crucial to what we hear, compounding the intensity of the emotion through the subtlest of means.  Basically, it’s bare bones, vulnerable and bold in its every moment – and while there might theoretically be ‘less’ to listen to, you’ll more than likely feel how I felt about this song and discover less is more here.  Don’t get me wrong, I know people say that like it’s a truth written in stone somewhere – it’s not – I’m just saying in this particular instance it absolutely is – Glenn proves to be a master of the subtle arts on “Connections,” delivering a stunningly powerful & memorable moment built on the pure beauty found only in the depths of melancholy.  As sensory as a song can be, you feel every moment of “Connections.”

Yaaaaaaaaaar.  I can SEE the show in my mind that uses this string pattern in its theme-song and I cannot for the life of me place what the heck it is right now.  Rest assured it’s a mystery or a horror type show I’m sure…I can’t believe I’ve been writing this all this time and still never been able to figure out where I recognize this main sound from the finale cut in “An Unknown Future.”  I love what I hear, that much I can tell ya – and I love what this both nods towards & signifies in the story of Mr. Murawski as well.  First & foremost…he’s let the chains off a little here, and you can hear that – “An Unknown Future” is more adventurous and curious in its selection of sounds and the overall combination than any other cut you’ll find on this hybrid record.  While there’s undoubtedly a trade being made for accessibility – its cuts like this that’ll lead to that next Murawski breakthrough, in heading into what’s not known, what’s new, and experimenting.  There will be trials and tribulations along the way I’m sure – but such is the cost of exploration and discovering uniqueness…and in my humble opinion, that’s always a search worth pursuing.  I can recognize that “An Unknown Future” is probably a bit too on the scattered side of sound when it comes to the thick of the mix at its most intense – it can be difficult to figure out just what the heck you want your ears to focus on, because there really is ton of rad stuff swirling through the atmosphere that you’ll wanna catch & make sure you hear, and realistically, no – we can’t do it all at once…at least, not at first.  Again folks, this is the kind of cut the repeat function is for and multiple spins through a record make it worth the trip to conclude with – you wanna spend that extra time with “An Unknown Future” to dig right into all it has to offer and figure it out with your mind, like an audible puzzle.  While there’s probably a space in between something like “An Unknown Future” and tracks like “The World Is Yours” with the signature Murawski sound that he’ll want to nestle comfortably into for a while…therein also lies the peace & balance he’s been personally seeking out, musically…and mentally.

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