The Scotsman Sessions #126: Andrew Wasylyk

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Andrew Wasylyk performs In Balgay Silhouettes, taken from his new album Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 6:08 pm

Andrew Mitchell, who records albums of intricate, elegiac classical pop music under the name Andrew Wasylyk, describes the aftermath of his third album The Paralian’s surprising-to-him nomination for the 2019 Scottish Album of the Year Award as the thing that kickstarted the recording of this year’s follow-up, Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation.

“My expectations are generally quite low,” he says. “Maybe that’s a protective mechanism. When (the nomination) happened, one of the ways of processing it was to move on to something new immediately.” Created during summer and autumn 2019, the new album is the third part of an “inadvertent triptych.”

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“Themes for Buildings and Spaces (2017) started life as a commission from NEoN digital art festival in Dundee that looked at architecture and urban decay,” explains Mitchell, also a former member of the Hazey Janes and current member of Idlewild. “The Paralian was a commission from Hospitalfield House in Arbroath to write some music for their restored Grecian harp; it took its influence from the imposing nature of the North Sea horizon and my relationship with the coast, growing up in Dundee.

Andrew Wasylyk
Andrew Wasylyk

“If The Paralian looked outwards, then Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation looks inwards, up the Tay estuary, to these metaphorical empty suburban streets.” Reflections on childhood memory play a big part in compositions such as the Style Council-like groove of Last Sunbeams of Childhood.

“At the beginning of that track I used a field recording of kids in a playground at Blackness Primary School, which I went to for a couple of years,” he says. “Hopefully it carries that sentiment of optimism and naïve joy. Black Bay Dream Minor is a sort of nocturne for the area I grew up in, Invergowrie and Kingoodie, where I’d go swimming in the quarry among the eels and the shopping trolleys.”

Evocatively filmed by artist and musician Tommy Perman at Mitchell’s Dundee studio, his Scotsman Session is In Balgay Silhouettes, a song Mitchell chose for its adaptability to solo performance. “I lived next to Balgay Hill, and at the time spent a lot of mornings walking,” he says. “It has a park, a cemetery, an observatory… I wrote the piece after being there around sunset, in that beautiful half-light in amongst the sycamores and the gravestones. Musically, it’s half cursed lament and half nursery rhyme; it was nice to peel the layers away on the arrangement and leave it exposed by just piano and drum machine.”

Andrew Wasylyk’s new album Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation is out now, and available to buy at www.andrewwasylyk.bandcamp.com

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