Tomasz Bednarczyk – Illustrations For Those Who (Room 40, 2018)

I don’t sketch. I wish that I could, along with many other artistic endeavours, but I’ve never been very good at putting pen to paper and drawing. It’s unclear whether Tomasz has an aptitude for drawing either, but what is apparent is his ability to conjure distinct visions musically, to trace a particular environment not with his hands but with our ears.

Whilst it has been almost a decade since his last full length record under his own name, the pieces here definitely do not betray such a hiatus, and whilst not entirely a continuation of the work he was doing in the mid-to-late Noughties they still feel intimately connected. Tomasz’s keen appreciation of the world around him even in perhaps mundane or banal settings is apparent.

Even simple moments have a character and invoke a particular mood, such as mid-album “Rainy Drive”. There’s a suppressive darkness here that just touches the fringes like a vignette, the thin border of the windscreen at the periphery of vision holding back the grey sky above and the rain that tumbles from it. Damp and dampening, there is a curious drifting of mind from body, thought lost to the monotony of the road ahead as the tape loops with oddly familiar drone movements. The odometer ticks on lazily, perhaps the only indicator of physical movement and a gentle reminder of passage to our subconscious.

Juxtaposed against it is the far lighter “Sunny Ambient”; again unspecific and yet wholly familiar, shimmering and oscillating synth tones build the broad strokes that capture the essence of the scene. Fluttering gauzy electronica dance about us, a world sparklingly transformed under fresh sunlight and radiating a glow even perhaps where it should not. There’s a sweetness here in its observation: not saccharine and not carefree, but sweet all the same. That same pleasantry is also invoked in “Botanical Garden”, though without the fractal motions. Here is a piece lost to pastel smears, warm drones that hug the body and soften the mind in some unseasonal tropical greenhouse, humming in fragrant airs, displaced lushness, and a strange sense of vibrant photosynthetic energy.

Melancholic vagueness moves in the slow swells and warbling hues of tired “Sunday”, who all too often finds itself mired in reflection and disappointment at the week’s end and the return to unfulfillment in the following day. Yet whilst it distils the broad essence of only one day closing “Six Sounds” seems to collate a week’s worth, smushing drones into whirring and spinning suspension. The tape hisses softly as it winds forward, compressing and collating stacks of these moments, blurring them into singular whole as though detailing the week’s ventures into a summary or report ready to be dispensed to the enquiring.

And like most weeks it has a certain greyness to it, a repetitious ambience in the sound made as life gets lived, though that doesn’t stop its final minute transmuting into a glowing coda; a brief surge of harmonious and clean light pours forth that is, quite simply, happy to be alive to experience it at all.