Words by Andrew Wasylyk (this article originally appeared on Caught by the River)
As the Spring of discontent took hold of 2020, like many, I sought comfort in the familiar. What arrived in low-light morning walks in Dundee’s 19th century Balgay Park became a sanctuary and solace to events happening in the world outside. Opened in 1871, the park, with adjoining cemetery and sweeping panoramic views across the Firth Of Tay’s inner estuary, is known for its astronomical observatory which sits high on a wooded hill and is the only full-time public observatory in the UK.
These walks, along with the contentment of work and routine, helped alleviate the universal cloud of anxiety that swept the first part of the year, and soon these daybreak strolls seemed to be gently seeping into the music I was writing.
The ten compositions that comprise Balgay Hill: Morning In Magnolia hopefully present themselves as odes to early morning light, half-hymns of optimism at the start of the day, and the simple joy that can be found close to home exploring an inner-city park.
‘Avril Hydrangeas’ is the first track taken from the new album. Like many of the songs, it’s threaded with field recordings I made on those mornings; finches fluttering in the high green canopy, a dog walker shuffling in fallen leaves, or the faint hum of a passing passenger-less bus. These are accompanied by an undulating tape loop cycling over upright piano, electric guitar and shimmering vibraphone.
Inspired by the work of filmmaker Margaret Tait and animation pioneer Norman McLaren, my pal and artist Tommy Perman has directed an accompanying film for the piece. Shot in Balgay, the footage experiments with homemade lenses he beautifully designed from an array of found and recycled materials, such as leaves, feathers, tissue paper, card, foil, tinsel and onion skins. I’m very grateful to Tommy for his work and his approach to this collaboration. For me, the soft bursts of new colour and elegiac fractures of light combine in meditative recreation. Hope you maybe enjoy it.
Andrew Wasylyk – Balgay Hill: Morning in Magnolia is available now on Clay Pipe Music.