Wednesday, June 3, 2020

LowBow - Murmurs (2019)


Maciej Sadowski - double bass
Małgorzata Znarowska - cello
Kevin Scott Davis - ambient
Antoni Wojnar - piano (9)
Mikołaj Zieliński - trombone (9)
Maja Maseli - violin (9)
Piotr Guz - tuba (9)



By Adam Baruch

This is a stunning debut album by Polish duo LowBow comprising of bassist/composer Maciej Sadowski and cellist/composer Małgorzata Znarowska. American multi-instrumentalist/composer Kevin Scott Davis (a.k.a. Glowworm) accompanies the duo on four tracks and four other musicians participate on the final track. The album presents nine original compositions, all by Sadowski, except two which are co-composed by him and Znarowska.

The music is an absolutely marvelous collection of strongly melodic tunes, which elegantly escape genre classification, and flow between Medieval Church Music, contemporary Classical Music, Ambient vistas and whatever else comes to the listener´s mind while experiencing these deeply moving sounds. The stern minimalism, which seemingly rules a priori due to the duo´s instrumental range, proves to be a complete false assumption, as the duo manages often to sound like a full orchestra in spite of the intrinsic limitations, partly due to multi-tracking but mostly due to the power of the music itself. The ambient synthesized sounds on the tracks with Davis´ participation are completely organic with the rest of the material, which leaves only the last track played by a sextet to round things up with a slightly different accent but completely consistent with the rest of the album.

But beyond the unique low key sound, the melodic lyricism and ocean deep melancholy of this music are its most striking characteristics. It easily stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the most profound contemporary Polish Classical Music by such lofty names as Witold Lutosławski, Wojciech Kilar, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and others. I know this statement will raise a brow or two, but honestly anybody listening to this music should be able to immediately recognize the distinctive "Polishness" it radiates, and although the formalism of the orchestration may still lack the sophistication of the Masters, it has all it takes to make it profoundly beautiful and lasting.

Albums like this make the life of a music reviewer worth living. It is not very often that music of such striking quality lands on my desk in spite of the fact that I get thousands of albums every year. It takes just a few seconds to hear that this is something completely different as far as quality and beauty are concerned and a repeated listening only strengthens this feeling. People who know me are aware of the fact that I am rarely left speechless, but in this case I am truly short of words to say anything more… just listen!

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