Certain creative beings fill up their output with so many hints and references that one feels unlettered only by observing the premises of a given work. Jeff Gburek belongs to this category, in that I always feel the necessity of a magnifying lens for the mind just to declare myself at least partially qualified for talking about his music in a semi-coherent way. The Falls Of Hyperion – recorded and assembled with artistic and life partner Karolina Ossowska – is an album that requires persistence and application well beyond its eerily alluring sonorities.
Ossowska and Gburek’s multidisciplinary aptitude provided four chunks of pretty ineffable material, and it’s not hard to comprehend why it took years for the whole to be brought to completion. Inside an entanglement born from the proximity of instruments, human presences and skilfully exercised location recordings, we were nevertheless hit by the pair’s unashamed melodicism in “Hyperions 3 (Białowieża)”, a moving acoustic duet comprising reflections of fine East-European folk propagating over a superb backdrop of tweeting and chirping birds. This particular piece represents a soothing departure of sorts after two segments in which the textural sliding – looped violins, cryptic whispers and shifting dimensions – had trained us for a trip to an oneiric lower world defined by fading lights and indefinite contours rather than explicit pessimism.
The suspension – both harmonic and in a “waiting for the unrevealed” denotation – is reaffirmed once and for all in the 30-minute “Hyperion 4”, aptly subtitled “Lift Not The Painted Veil”. Ossowska’s floating singing and Gburek’s low-toned articulation are sustained by perplexing taped voices, some of them screaming, others speaking with a somewhat dismaying deliberateness. In the meantime, a needlework of phrase fragments, metamorphic pitches, ritualistic patterns and barely tactile timbres communicates a mix of enthrallment and pre-awareness apprehension. When the souls leave the scene, the higher frequencies – in union with obsessive electronic codes – remain prominent until the very end, any residual confidence in our rational faculties conclusively switched off.