Contemporary music from everywhere

Matthew Swiezynski – the one who modifies Time and Light

SwiezynskiMatthew Swiezynski’s stark new disc is a collaborative project that features contributions from Tarrl Lightowler, Johannes D’église, Arthur de Eriomém “plus other artists on invisible birds.”

That last reference is to the terrific 10-year-old New York City label behind this release and Adrian Dziewanski’s hypnotic The Trail Looks Back. Both titles are co-released with The Alcohol Seed.

This disc features two densely atmospheric titles, both over 30 minutes in length. They represent the launch of a new series inspired by cinematic sound and music. And while that theme is immediately obvious in both pieces, the work is largely monochromatic.

That’s not a criticism. There is a kind of steely harshness running throughout the two works that comes across (to my ear anyway) in various shades of grey. It’s a powerful listen.

The album’s notes describe “field recordings, follies and harmony initially used to augment picture, now isolated and modified as a lover’s response to the experience of film.”

Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy is the core inspiration. Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished) and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) were released in 1955, 1956 and 1959 respectively. Thought by many to be the best ever produced in Indian cinema, the original music for all three films was composed by Ravi Shankar.

There are specific references to Ray’s masterpieces scattered throughout both pieces: “The bird represents phases of the work” and “Reduction, the transmission of light.” Bells ring, sitars buzz, trains race by. Like a lot of great field recording-based work, we’re treated to one striking visual after another.

It could well be that the greyness I’m picking up on is in fact a reflection of the fact that Ray’s celebrated trilogy is in black and white. Or it could simply be a personal interpretation of the extensive sound editing undertaken in the production of these two pieces.

Either way, Swiezynski and Co. have delivered a captivating 65 minutes.

Kevin Press

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