This album is pure, clean, austere. Not austere in the sense of frugal or bleak – no, not at all. Austere in the sense of simplicity, modesty and honesty, the powerful starkness you experience in the unadorned interior of an abbey such as Pontigny. I have lived with and loved this album for twelve months, from the very first listening. A Journey by Maciek Pysz is my album of 2015 because of its beauty, its emotional depth and variety, and the dazzling compositional and performance talents of Maciek Pysz on guitar.
A Journey is guitarist and composer Maciek Pysz’s second album, recorded and engineered once more by Stefano Amerio at Artesuono Studio with the same musicians as his first album Insight – Yuri Goloubev on bass and Asaf Sirkis on drums – but with the inspired choice of Daniele di Bonaventura on piano and bandoneon. The mutual inspiration between Pysz and Bonaventura on bandoneon is nowhere clearer than on the haunting Innocente by Ralph Towner with its delicate impressionist water colour introduction. This has a touch of genius about it, inspired by the moment.
You can appreciate this album for the beauty of the sound: clear, pristine and sparkling yet warm – everything you would want to hear in an acoustic guitar if you can’t actually be in the room with it – this album is made for vinyl. But you soon forget the technicalities as you are swept away in the emotions of each composition. Take Water Streets inspired by a trip to Venice, the gentle rocking of a gondola, the ripple of sunlight on ancient facades, masks and carnival – you experience all of these things unforgettably in just a few bars. The clarity is not just clarity of sound, but clarity and honesty of emotion, and that is why I love this album so much. There is no escaping the wistfulness of Until Next Time, the opening bandoneon so full of longing, the warmth and peace of Coming Home, the affection in Paris, the joyous momentum of Always On The Move.
Insight was my album of 2013, reviewed here. There is no denying the technical, stylistic and emotional growth in this second album, the easy flow of melody disguising music that is challenging to perform. It is unnecessary to list influences since Maciek has his own sound and colour pallet, as subtle, gorgeous and extensive as any painter’s, every note delivered with passion and breathtaking skill. It was quite evidently a magical few days in the studio with inspiration from all involved. And the order of tracks is very satisfying, from opening Fresh Look to closing Coming Home. A perfectly executed work of art in every sense. And what next? Well, I for one can’t wait for the next stage in this particular journey….but in the meantime, I will always enjoy A Journey.
Mary James works with Maciek Pysz as his manager
‘A Journey ‘ is released on Dot Time Records