- Michal Jacaszek captured the hearts of many with his 2008 album Treny, a stunning blend of baroque melodies, delicately placed arrangements and subtly pulsing electronics. It was the kind of "modern classical" record that could be appreciated by listeners from any background, with alternating moments of melodic lucidity, trembling melodrama and impressive sound manipulation. The Polish composer might have lost some of that widespread goodwill with his follow-up Pentral, a release that sacrificed the emotional tumult of Treny for illustrative composition in an attempt to sonically map the inside of a church. It was about as gorgeous/alienating as that sounds. For his fifth album-length effort, Jacaszek has turned to American electronic conglomerate Ghostly, and both its content and its digestible running length seem to confirm the implications of accessibility that accompany such a move. Simply put, Glimmer is Jacaszek's easiest, friendliest record to date.
Glimmer moves in cresting waves and washes rather than a linear path. Jacaszek calls it a "curtain out of dirts and fuzzes," and his approximation of the work isn't too far off from its actuality: each track here feels like an empty canvas waiting to be adorned with his distinctive blend of elegantly sustained horns and creeping string instruments. The album's intricate artwork—a series of microscopically-zoomed photos of surfaces, every crevice and canyon clearly visible—gives a hint for what to expect, music that finds power in intense focus and brooding inertia rather than booming narrative.
Most of these canvases are subtly flecked with electronic effects, but the line between natural and artificial is consistently blurred. Opener "Goldengrove" stirs to life on a bed of sounds that feel like a mixture of artificially generated white noise, phased footsteps and the rustling of paper or leaves: it's all beautifully contrasted with a harpsichord that weaves in and out of its field of interference, which only makes its brief moments of naked clarity all the more effective. The album's opening stretch leans closer to drone than anything else, with "Dare-gale" and "Pod Światło," and Jacaszek conjuring up stomach-churning dread and detachedly glacial beauty from his long strokes of melody.
There's nothing quite like the beat-driven "Rytm To Niesmiertelsoc II" on Glimmer, but the album's biggest tracks like "Evening Strains to Be Time's Vast" and "As Each Tucked String Tells" relocate that throbbing intensity into rumbling walls of noise and distortion, live instruments clawing their way to the surface. That's the main attraction on Glimmer: where Treny felt like a story, human voices and all, Glimmer is a composer pitting his dual selves against each other and feeding off the tension. Sometimes it's subtle, almost whimsical, and other times the conflict swells into behemoth blankets of intensely detailed strife. Never afraid of emotive overtures, Glimmer has enough to rope back in jilted Treny fans, but is steady-footed enough to find acolytes in drone and ambient communities as well.
03. Pod ÅšwiatÅ‚o
04. Evening Strains to Be Time's Vast
05. Seiden Stille
06. What Wind-Walks Up Above!
07. Only Not Within Seeing of the Sun
08. As Each Tucked String Tells