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Monday, January 23, 2023

Maciej Staniecki - Spirals (Alpaka Records, 2022)

Spirals is a sprawling 11-track electroacoustic album from the Polish guitarist, Maciej Staniecki released March 29, 2022. Coming in at approximately 41 minutes, this album presents a place of timeless electronic textures and broad cinematic soundscapes.

Each of the tracks is titled Spiral followed by a number as low as 20 and as high as 41, suggesting that these tracks have been selected from a much larger pool of related creative output exploring similar artistic ground. The tracks all share the constancy of sound, as silence is not an element of composition here, and a sparseness in textural complexity, most often consisting of some slowly evolving drone-like background or abstract, looping rhythmic accompaniment and a more rhythmically active melodic element from guitar (see tracks 1, 3, and 7 for the drone-like backgrounds; tracks 4 and 8 for looping rhythmic accompaniments).

Track 4, Spiral 39, is the most complex track of the album, consisting of an unchanging drone, field recording of chirping birds, a repetitive bass line, busy percussive rhythmic loop, a slow meandering guitar solo, and a sixth layer of sparse and subtle guitar interjections.

Track 6, Spiral 38, may be the most representative of the album’s overall impression with its deep, slightly buzzing, background drone/textural pad slowly fading in, slowly and subtly evolving, and then fading out, combined with a sparse meandering guitar solo in the middle of the track.

Spirals presents a careful balance of composition and improvisation. The composition appears in the construction of the background elements (drones, evolving textural pads, abstract rhythmic loops, simple melodic loops) and the improvisational elements are most present in the melodic guitar material, likely with large areas of overlap in the ultimate shaping of each track.

On the surface this music could seem simplistic, but on repeated listening and close attention, listeners will find subtle complexity in the timbres and textures presented. This is carefully crafted music that will take attentive listening in order to fully appreciate its detail.