Maciek Pysz – A View
(Caligola Records, CALIGOLA2265. CD Review by John Arnett)
If you find yourself in need of something uplifting and tranquil at the moment – and who doesn’t – this could be the very thing. Essentially a solo guitar album, albeit with some subtle and judicious overdubbing, A View was recorded in Trieste in 2017, at the same time as Coming Home, the duo release of that year (reviewed HERE by Peter Jones). Pysz says that he had always wanted to record a solo guitar album, and now feels that the time is right to release it.
Having previously seen him play (brilliantly) in a quartet setting, I was particularly interested to see whether the solo context would be as compelling, and whilst the result may be a little more melancholic and gentle, I’d say it resoundingly is. The music reflects a markedly European and romantic sensibility, as evidenced for example in the two covers “Sous le ciel de Paris” (Hubert Giraud) and “Cinema Paradiso – Love theme” (Andrea Morricone) with their yearning melodies, both played on the classical guitar. The remaining ten tracks are original compositions, four of them “sketches”, interspersed through the album.
Maciek Pysz has a particular affinity with the nylon string guitar, and it is much in evidence here, although he does also play the steel string acoustic, both 6 and 12 strings, as well as electric. This makes for a pleasing spectrum of sounds, in conjunction with the diversity, in terms of form and length, of the compositions. I suspect that not many listeners would readily describe these tunes as jazz – no matter. (“Sous le ciel de Paris” is really a classical piece for example). There are improvised passages certainly, but most importantly it is just captivating, melodic and atmospheric music, beautifully played and very sympathetically produced, with great clarity of sound.
The album really hits its stride with second track “Trieste”. Pysz describes in the sleeve notes how an extended stay in the city provided the inspiration for the music we hear, and “Trieste” is certainly very evocative of place. It has three distinct sections. A haunting minor key melody leads into a rhythmic middle section with a single repeated treble note over underlying arpeggios and then a lively, exuberant trill, momentarily lifting the mood. “Coastline” features steel string guitar for the melody and solo, over electric guitar washes, with floating swell pedal, “Drifting” similarly. The track titles are evocative and apt – you can’t help forming mental pictures as you listen – and of course the album title A View itself hints at this visual element. “Seagull” is a case in point and a gem, with a delightful melody that swoops, floats and changes direction, all in a little under two minutes. Highly recommended.
A View was released in October 2019, but Maciek Pysz tells us: “I have just released digitally an extra track from the album session. The track is called Bring Me There. Originally it didn’t make it to the album but I decided to release it now, and it’s just gone live on iTUNES and Spotify.”