As the Spring of discontent took hold on 2020, composer Andrew Wasylyk sought shelter in the familiar. Low-light morning walks in Dundee’s 19th century Balgay Park acted as sanctuary and solace to events happening in the world outside. Opened in 1871 the park, with adjoining cemetery and sweeping panoramic views across the Firth Of Tay’s inner estuary, is known for its astronomical observatory which sits high on a wooded hill and is the only full-time public observatory in the UK.
These walks, along with the comfort found in work and routine, helped alleviate the universal cloud of anxiety that swept the first part of the year, and soon Andrew found that his daybreak strolls were seeping into the music he was creating. Slowly, a collection of luminous, inventive and largely instrumental music was taking shape.
The ten compositions that make up Balgay Hill: Morning In Magnolia present themselves as hymns to early morning light, the optimism at the start of the day, and the simple joy that can be found close to home exploring an inner-city park. As with last year’s Fugitive Light And Themes Of Consolation and Scottish Album Of The Year Award shortlisted The Paralian (2019), trumpet and flugelhorn are handled by fellow Tayside musician Rachel Simpson, who’s delivery blends muted swells and punctuated patterns.
The hallmarks of Wasylyk’s multi-dimensional approach to composing, performing and producing glow soft throughout the arrangements. His timeless, yet entirely individual,melodies remain potent and apparent. A warped tape loop cycles over a Fender Rhodes motif – elegiac strings underlined by the thud of analogue drum machine. Textures shift and shade like dawn glimmering through the branches of a sycamore. Infused with field-recordings made on his morning rambles; finches flutter in the high green canopy, a dog walker shuffles in fallen leaves, the faint hum of lawnmower and passing passenger-less bus. Elsewhere, a wood pigeon clatters through a blossom tree, migratory geese call above Mills Observatory and the heavy summer rain rattles down on empty streets.
Balgay Hill: Morning In Magnolia is as much a daydream rubric through solitude as it is meditative map. An invite to untold stories and images that take flight in the listener’s mind.Here, Andrew Wasylyk offers another cohesive, unique, and transcendental journey through ambient, library and jazz. A comfort to pause, to look up, and to celebrate our human connection with the nature around us, and within us all.