Stefan Wesolowski – Liebestod

Weslowski is a Polish composer who is new to me, but this record has already made it through quite a few spins already. This is modern classical, but when approached from more of a dark ambient or experimental viewpoint, it still works quite well. Not being overly familiar with modern classical myself, I tend to go on feeling with this one.

The first track, Ostinato, is very dark. String heavy with drones sliding up into the mix. This is the track that sold the album for me. It feels like the soundtrack to a tour of ruined or abandoned government buildings. You can feel the weight of it all. The strings carry you along down empty hallways toward empty rooms. Dogs barking outside are your only company.

More of the same for the second track. Fairly dark. It begins with a simple piano note played over and over, and is followed by a rich string section. Layers build up, but slowly. The piano continues through the back end, almost menacing. Past the halfway point you get a piano burst of sunshine followed by some serious tuba.

The third is where things get a bit weirder. It starts out with a very prevalent electronic beat. A slow one, but one that took me off guard. I’ll admit, it irked me through the first listen. It just seemed so out of place, but the more I listen, the more I can appreciate how it melds into the rest of the track.

Liebestod, the fourth and title track, takes its name from Tristan and Isolde by Wagner. If the music references this, I don’t know. Its a quicker more gentle piece.

Tacet, the fifth, has guest soundscapes by Michal Jacaszek. A great noisy wash with the sound of voices trying to creep through the horn and piano, but buried in the murk. This still has the classical sound, but in a black metal outro kind of way.

As we get to the end, we have a slow moving beautiful piano piece. A very pastoral finish to the album with strings coming up through a simple repetitive piano loop. This one keeps bringing to mind a field of grain swaying gently. At just under 6 minutes, I could take another 10 minutes of this one.

Ok. I typically am not into reviews that go track by track, but this album covers so much ground in six tracks, I couldn’t do it justice otherwise. Even with the breakdown, my lack of knowledge of modern classical is probably not helping matters here. Hopefully the moodiness of the album is coming through. Really, it is an intensely emotional and cinematic album. It feels vibrant, nostalgic, crushing at times. The string quartet and piano feels very classical. The inclusion of brass, a baroque bassoon, and the field recordings help this feel more accessible to the general fan of experimental music. I still have my qualms about that electronic beat in the third track, but I’m dealing with it. It does have its place here. An album well worth your support. -Jack

Important Records

~ by jackhannert on May 21, 2014.

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