Scottish composer Andrew Wasylyk’s latest album, Hearing The Water Before Seeing The Falls, was commissioned to accompany the work of acclaimed landscape photographer, Thomas Joshua Cooper, namely his exhibition, The World’s Edge. This is a collection of 65 photographs, created with a 19th-century Agfa Ansco view camera, that capture the ocean at remote and isolated points around the Atlantic Basin. It’s the culmination of a project that Cooper began in 1987.
(Photograph taken from Thomas Joshua Cooper’s exhibition, The Worlds Edge)
Given that introduction / explanation you might expect Andrew’s music to be cold, or stark, but the pieces he’s produced are the opposite of that, instead conveying a sense of purity and beauty. In the main the compositions could be described as modern classical. On the title track, for example, rapidly rippling piano keys wrap around the field recorded sound of water fowl, a gaggle of geese or ducks. They themselves, surrounded by a romance of strings, harp, and subtle suggestions of brass. The melodies are moving, dramatic, and cinematic. On The Life Of Time they frame a reading of Cooper’s poignant poetry. From my own shelves, points of reference might be Phil France’s The Swimmer, and Jóhann Jóhannsson`s score for James Marsh’s The Mercy – two more albums inspired by bodies of water. However, that’s not the whole story.
The yearning Years Beneath A Yarrow Moon segues into The Confluence – a trap-drummed touch of funky jazz, as opposed to jazz-funk. Strutting its stuff somewhere between, say, Greg Foat and Felbm. The closing, more obviously electronically-assisted, Truant In Gossamer, is a cut of calming pastoral kosmische. It was the opening, Dreamt In The Current Of Leafless Winter, though, that really blew me away. A 15-minute suite, in 3 shifting sections, it starts with a low synth drone, saxophone and temple bells. Close mic`d and intimate, processing its signals into into serene spiritual shapes. Slowly introducing contrabass notes, and steady, massaging beat. The extended ensemble arrangement evolving, building bit-by-bit, drawing you further and further in. The fluttering reed, and groove, reminding me a little of Pharoah Sanders duetting with Jah Wobble on the latter’s Heaven & Earth, before vocal harmonies transform the track again.
Andrew Wasylyk’s Hearing The Water Before Seeing The Falls is released tomorrow, on Clay Pipe Music. Andrew is also about to embark on a short UK tour.
07 Dec. – Headrow House, Leeds
08 Dec. – Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield. 09 Dec. – St. Matthias Church, London
10 Dec. – Halle St. Michaels, Manchester
11 Dec. – Philharmonic Small Room, Liverpool. 16 Dec. – CCA, Glasgow