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Robert Piotrowicz, "Walser"

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cover imageHis last major release, Samoobrona (with Lukáš Jiřička) may have had Piotrowicz trying something rather different by scoring a radio play, but Walser is a step back into the conventional album format, even if it was originally intended as a score for the film of the same title.  However, that motivation to try new things as far as instrumentation and composition goes (something that has been a distinct facet of his recent works) is not lost here.  Electric and acoustic instruments blend together, making for perhaps his most diverse and complex work to date.

Musica Genera/Bocian Records

The dense synthesizer opening on "Oleh Rami Pohon" is appropriately dramatic, with a heavy arrangement that then is mixed perfectly with bowed double bass strings.  Robert layers the electronics expertly, and with the addition of some rhythmic bits, makes for a complex piece of music that nicely vacillates between harsh darkness and pastoral spaces.  The drama does not relent into the subsequent "Tingal," with its introduction of booming war drums and complex synthesizer passages.  The unrelenting martial beat does not relent, while Piotrowicz takes the electronics into chaotic, at times frightening passages of sound.

The forceful rhythms reappear on "Utara," with additional percussive bits thrown in.  The pounding drums, buzzing strings, and other bits come together very well, resulting in a piece of music that is more of an emphasis on the strings and percussion when compared to the electronics.  Overall though, there is a nice creepy moodiness (or moody creepiness) that pervades the piece.  The brief "Elok Pada Masa" is more of a transitional passage:  the ominous hums are offset by lighter sounds, each of which slide in and out to keep things dynamic.

Things are not quite as dark for the entire record though.  "Automatu" opens with lighter, shimmering wind chime ambience that gives a more pleasant mood overall.  However, the foundation of churning electronics low in the mix and the subtle addition of what sounds like heavily treated human voice keep a distinct creepiness to the sound overall.  The concluding "Dimana" is more open and spacious, keeping the dark elements via a low frequency drone with abrupt swells and drops.  The dynamic is less sustained and more erratic, with the occasional outburst of piano keeping this weird.  The piano sound itself becomes stranger and less conventional sounding as it goes on, ending the record on a strong, if idiosyncratic note.

While I will always associate Robert Piotrowicz's output with his work for modular synthesizers, Walser is yet another step away from that and instead into more varied and complex composition.  One of his darkest releases to date, however, his ear for diversity in sound ensures that it never becomes too mundane, and is yet another impressive entry in his already impressive body of work.  Considering it was initially created in 5.1 surround, however, I wish there would have been an opportunity to hear it in that format though.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 26 March 2017 22:37  


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