CULT CLASSIC: ANDREW WASYLCYK-FUGITIVE LIGHT AND THEMES OF CONSOLATION.
Cult Classic: Andrew Wasylyk-Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation.
When Dundee-based writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Wasylyk released his fourth album Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation this brought to an end a journey that began back in 2017. That was when he released Themes For Buildings and Spaces, which was the first instalment in a trilogy of albums that were journeys through the architecture and landscape of Eastern Scotland. This was followed in 2019 by The Paralian, which was shortlisted for the Scottish Album Of The Year Award. Bringing the trilogy to a close is Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation. It’s the latest chapter in the Andrew Wasylyk story.
For anyone unfamiliar with Andrew Wasylyk, this is the alias of Scottish writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Mitchell. He was born in Dundee in 1982, and by the age of eight was learning to play the violin and cello. Neither instrument was for him, and he turned his back on music. Instead, he decided that he wanted to follow in his elder brother’s footsteps and become a footballer. Andrew Mitchell’s priorities changed when his uncle gave him an eighties Fender Stratocaster when he was sixteen.
Up until then, he was happy to listen to music and spent his spare time listening to cassettes of everything from Crystal Gayle and The Beatles to Carl Cox. However, by the time Andrew Mitchell left school in 1999, his musical tastes were expanding and becoming even more eclectic. Soon, he and his friends had discovered Cannonball Adderley, Fairport Convention and The Salsoul Orchestra as well as Gang Starr, Pavement and Olivia Tremor Control. This search for new music continued as Andrew Mitchell decided to form a band.
He and his friend Matthew Marra formed the indie pop group The Hazey Janes which also featured Alice Marra and Liam Brennan. They signed to Measured Records and in 2004, released their eponymous debut album. This was the first of five albums the group released over the next thirteen years. During this period, the toured the UK several times, opened for Wilco across Europe and appeared at the South By Southwest Festival with Andrew Mitchell playing guitar and keyboards. All the recording sessions and tours were a learning experienced and shaped him as a musician for life beyond and after The Hazey Janes.
Andrew Mitchell went on to work with Art Of The Memory Palace, Electric Soft Parade, School Of Language, Deacon Blue, Idlewild and Roddy Woomble. However, he had also embarked upon a solo career. That was when Andrew Wasylyk was born.
On November the ‘6th’ 2015, Andrew Wasylyk released his debut album Soroky. This was the name of the village in West Ukraine that his grandfather Iwan Wasylyk was from.
Soroky was a cinematic, cerebral and sometimes uneasy sounding album that was recorded in just five days on the island of Mull. It found Andrew Wasylyk drawing inspiration from baroque pop, modern classical and seventies Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters and his fragile and emotive vocal sounding as if he had been influenced sonically and stylistically by The Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan, The Bathers’ Chris Thompson, former Associate Billy McKenzie as well as Scott Walker and Randy Newman. These influences shine through on an album which deals with a variety of themes. This ranges from the sense of disillusionment and anxiousness on Last Of The Loved right through to the playful retort of Mr White, It’s No Trouble At All. The result was a powerful and poignant debut solo album that borrowed from music’s glorious past and showcased a talented singer-songwriter who it seemed had bright future ahead of him.
Themes For Buildings and Spaces.
Andrew Wasylyk returned on the ‘28th’ of April 2017 with his sophomore album Themes For Buildings and Spaces. It was also the first instalment in the trilogy of albums that were journeys through the architecture and landscape of Eastern Scotland. The album had been inspired by his home city of Dundee, famed for jam, jute and journalism. However, it was the city’s architecture and open spaces that inspired the instrumental soundscapes on Themes For Buildings and Spaces. They reflect the materials which are in everyday use in the city as it’s evolved in the postwar years.
This includes Under High Blue Skies which pays homage to the Brutalist architecture in Dundee while Drift and Lower Dens Works reflects the city’s industrial past and especially the jute mills. Heavy industry is no longer part of Dundee and The Howff with its understated sound is reminder of a city that was once an industrial powerhouse. Sadly that’s no longer the case and sadness and wistfulness permeates an album which is a nostalgic look back at Dundee’s glory days. However, there’s also optimism and hope for the future on Themes For Buildings and Spaces.
In 2019, Andrew Wasylyk released The Paralian which was the second instalment in the trilogy. The album came about after he received what was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The previous year, 2018, Andrew Wasylyk was offered a residency invite by the arts centre and historic house, Hospitalfield, in Arbroath. He spent the next five month composing and creating new music on their recently restored nineteenth Century Erard Grecian harp and the house’s original grand piano. This music was inspired by the Angus landscape and incorporated field recordings made during trips to Seaton Cliffs and Bell Rock Lighthouse and formed the basis for The Paralian.
Then as winter gave way to spring, all that was left was for Andrew Wasylyk to augment the harp, piano and field recordings with synths, drones, an upright piano, flugelhorn, euphonium, oboe and a string trio. The result was The Paralian, which drew inspiration from disparate musical genres including ambient music, British folk, classic British jazz from the sixties, experimental music, fusion, modern classical, soundtracks and the golden era of library music. All these influences were part of Andrew Wasylyk’s atmospheric and cinematic album where he painted pictures and takes the listener on a journey where he explores the exchanges between sea and shore. The result was the finest album of his career and one whose filmic sound brought back memories for many people.
Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation.
The final instalment in the trilogy was Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation which was recorded between the summer of 2019 and January 2020. The album was written by Andrew Wasylyk who is a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays all of the instruments on the album as he returns to where the journey began…Dundee,
On Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation, Andrew Wasylyk returns to his home city. He retraces his steps on this journey upriver as sets sail and heads upriver, inland and home as he navigates his way to the city famous for jam, jute and journalism. This means sailing across the River Tay’s inner estuary and watching as the pale moon shines on the barren winter fields as the watery winter light casts a shadow on the empty city streets at dawn. They sit proudly upon what once was a quarry that was excavated to build the Dundee that Andrew Wasylyk’s journeys across. That journey is documented on and the city celebrated on the ten tracks on Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation.
The music Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation is understated, subtle and cinematic. This filmic album from Andrew Wasylyk is also atmospheric and evocative. However, the album opener A Further Look At Loss is tinged darkness, sadness and melancholy. There’s a change of mood on Last Sunbeams Of Childhood as Andrew Wasylyk reflects on what’s the best days of our lives. Fugitive Light Restless Water then meanders along veering between a ruminative and hopeful sound as ambient, modern classical and jazz combine to create a beautiful soundscape. The Violet Hour is a piano-led cinematic track with a pastoral sound as birds sing, horns play and strings add a haunting sound. It paints a picture of a city awakening from its slumbers where sadness and hope could be near neighbours as dreams are dashed and come true. After the mechanical opening to Everywhere Something Sublime suddenly it’s all change and beauty is omnipresent as Andrew Wasylyk picks the perfect combination of instruments especially the piano, percussion and muted horns. He’s like a painter picking the perfect selection of colours as a masterpiece takes shape.
There’s an almost moody, haunting sound to In Balgay Silhouettes which sounds as if it belongs on the soundtrack to a French film from the sixties. Then Awoke In The Early Days Of A Better World offers hope, hope for the future. That’s apart from in Sturgeon’s Scotland where the nasty Nat’s peddle their divisive policies. Meanwhile, the genre-melting arrangement meanders melodically and floats dreamily along fusing elements of ambient, fusion, library music and modern classical music with industrial sounds and clicking kick drums. It’s a quite beautiful and memorable combination.
Even the title (Half-light Of) The Cadmium Moon paints pictures as the journey continues. That’s the case from the opening bars as the piano plays before instruments drop in and out playing a supporting role as the music becomes ethereal, elegiac and sometimes dramatic. It’s always cinematic and so much so, that one can imagine the city appearing in the (Half-light Of) The Cadmium Moon. There’s then a sense of melancholy in Black Bay Dream Minor as if the journey nears its ends that the city is no longer the proud industrial powerhouse it once was. On Lost, Aglow which closes the album there’s a sense of sadness as a Fender Rhodes is joined by drums and wistful horns as the arrangement almost reluctantly unfolds. Later, the shimmering Fender Rhodes shimmers and horn give way to the unmistakable sound of the sea. One is left to wonder how the journey ended and did the traveller reach dry land and home on this cinematic epic?
Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation is without doubt the finest album of Andrew Wasylyk’s career. It’s also the final instalment in a trilogy of albums that were journeys through the architecture and landscape of Eastern Scotland. Fittingly, the singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer journeys back to Dundee the city of his birth, which has also inspired him as a musician.
On Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation Andrew Wasylyk seems draws inspiration from Alice Coltrane, Brian Eno, David Axelrod, John Barry, Mark Hollis and Virginia Astley and during the album fuses everything from ambient music, avant-garde, jazz, library music, modern classical, soundtracks and spiritual jazz. All this plays their part in the breathtaking cinematic journey where Andrew Wasylyk paints pictures with music on Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation which is a career defining album from the thirty-eight year old Dundonian.
Cult Classic: Andrew Wasylyk-Fugitive Light and Themes Of Consolation.