Mark Przybylowski – ‘Lonely House’ [Review]

‘Lonely House’ marks a sharp, early turn for the Galtta label, their catalog having not yet reached double-digits.  Still based in instrumental virtuosity, the tape by Mark Przybylowski diverges from the familiar jazz sounds of previous releases by utilizing stringed instruments alone, and then in a distinctly folk idiom familiar to Kottke and Fahey.  Beyond the choice of strings (cello, bass, and guitar), it is the use of space and architecture – the title house, standing empty, utilized for its reverb – which makes the most radical break in concept compared to Galtta’s previous studio pieces, and which brings it back around to reunite with the instrumental novelties/innovations which distinguish each release.  The space is both vital and subverted: the reflections of the house make the rich, bold sounds of each strum and pluck, but the house becomes abstract as each layer is recorded and edited together into one piece.  That is, rather than present each stringed instrument in a solo piece, and thereby contextualizing the space in the real-time of a “single take” (real or faked), two and sometimes all three of the instruments appear together, overlapping sounds from different moments into one, achieving not just impossible harmonics, but bringing with all the artifacts of each moment and imposing them into one space of the song.  This neo-classicism likens the sound to prime Johann Johannsson and Peter Broderick in songs like “Sunday”, which by this process juxtaposes multiple tones across these multiple spaces, materializing the structure of the house through activity.  Perhaps the only thing close to uni-dimensional is the theme of the tape – relentlessly melancholy, with titles like “Slow Winter”, “Lamentation”, “The Pain” – but this is not to say flat or uninteresting: the vocals which appear on “Blank Walls” are subdued but youthful, the guitar perky and waltzing across the floors and natural light that cello chords bring.  Even the coda, “Rejoice,” reverses this formula only slightly, lacking what would otherwise pass as joy but isolating well those strains of optimism which pass quietly through these seven tracks.  Professional cassettes come in heavy cards with art by Przybylowski’s grandfather John Carl Bulthuis, hand-numbered to 200.

Galtta cassette

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