Andrew Wasylyk spent five months in remote coastal Scotland on a residency. The resulting album, The Paralian, contains a great many instruments, and indeed field recordings, but the core of the album is a restored Erard Grecian harp from the 1800’s. The tender plucked strings of that harp sets the tone for a plaintive, rich and subtle suite of pieces. Out on Athens Of The North.
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What is it about the idea of an artist going somewhere isolated and making some art that is so compelling. Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver has built an empire on that story and he won’t be the last. Andrew Wasylyk probably doesn’t have the uh, scalability of Vernon’s music, but the results of his visit to the woods are no less moving.
The Paralian was created over five months on the coast of Scotland and I think for that reason it had to be the musical equivalent of the pleasure of sitting thoughtlessly by a crackling fire. Being warm and dry always means more when what’s going on outdoors is a bit hostile. I love my house, but never more so than in the midst of winter when the heating’s on (no fireplace in my back-to-back). Wasylyk uses tender horns, a piano and at 19th century harp to generate that warmth. But to remind us of what lies on the other side of your front door he has also integrated field recordings from cliffs and mysterious lighthouses.
The Paralian is Wasylyk creating his own type of pastoral jazz and folk to create a tribute to one specific home, Hospitalfield, but in doing so reminds of the joy of all of our homes. ‘Welter In The Haar’ is a piano ballad about arriving at your front door, ‘Flight Of The Cormorant’ a woozy jazz number about the awe of what’s going outside. It’s freezing where I am right now, but my cockles are well and truly warmed.
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