For the past decade or so, Polish musician Michal Jacaszek has been exploring a new, resolutely modern chapter in Eastern Europe’s long, storied love affair with classical music. His creations are painstakingly crafted collages of electronic textures and baroque instrumentation, harpsichords being swarmed by woolly static one minute and pulled apart by billowing wind the next. Ambient music—if we can generalize unnecessarily for a second—is rarely so sonically challenging.
Jacaszek’s latest album, Glimmer, is marked by a noticeable tug between melancholy and beauty, like it’s hovering in some gaseous grey area between both, at once both insular and extroverted. “I tried again to create some fragile beauty glimmering behind the veil of reality,” he says. “I built a kind of curtain out of dirts and fuzzes, and used pure sound of clarinet and harpsichord playing beautiful melodies as a contrast to its harshness.” This winking, push-and-pull tension runs deep and constant throughout the 40-odd-minute journey to the end.
To parse an album so deeply experiential and deliberately cohesive track-by-track seems unfair, almost ludicrous. But there are undisputed highlights—the apocalyptic crescendo at the end of “Evening Strains To Be Time’s Vast,” with its crunch of nightmarish noise and bit-crushed distortion; the dizzying, obscenely pretty tangle of Spanish guitar in “As Each Tucked String Tells.” Glimmer is, quite simply, an album that’s easy to get lost in without being easy to ignore. Don’t expect any eyelid drooping while it’s on.
Michal Jacaszek talks about his music in a very self-assured way. He lists clear moods, behaviors, and feelings (nostalgia, misery, classical music, and contemporary ambient electronic artists suc...check out Jacaszek's page and other releases