Before doing any background research into Andrew Wasylyk's new release through Clay Pipe Music, I thought for sure it was a film soundtrack. Maybe it was the colon in the album's title, the beautifully animated cover, or the song names which seemed to reference specific scenes. I sat down to listen, and by track three I could tell that my assumption was incorrect. Wasylyk's tone was bucolic and warm, but his music felt just a little too active, a bit too interesting to simply be background texture. It turns out that Balgay Hill: Morning in Magnolia is a score of sorts, but rather than set to film, the album was inspired by the artist's pandemic meanderings. Wasylyk pays tribute to a specific park where he spent many mornings walking alone, and is now sharing his audio "nature journal" with us all.
Like he did on last year's Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation (which we also adored), Wasylyk dabbles in nostalgia-tinged ambient jazz on Balgay Hill. Skillfully weaving together field recordings, chimes, tape loops, woozy guitar + bass, horns, soft percussion, and vintage Rhodes, he guides us through Balgay Park - past roses and hydrangeas, in and out of a cemetery, and up to the iconic observatory. Wasylyk took these pandemic walks in the AM, presumably when few others were out, but the ten tracks emanate a cozy fullness and warmth. Who needs people when you've got magpies and magnolias? Guess Wasylyk's walks weren't solo after all.
Balgay Hill is a wonderful listen, so catch it on the artist's Bandcamp page, linked here. Check out a favorite track below, and enjoy the album when heading out on your next socially-distanced stroll.