[sic] Magazine

Mateusz Franczak – Long Story Short

Polish cultural polymath Mateusz Franczak (Daktari, HOW HOW) is something of an enigma and his debut solo album, Long Story Short, is presented via a series of single word, present continuous titles. Such is Franczak’s mastery of the ambient instrumental that each of these carefully chosen, emotionally charged epithets conjures a degree of intimacy even before his evocative guitar play arrives. Long Story Short never feels forced as a result, indicative therefore of its home recording.

Ambient music is sometimes difficult to engage with, but Franczak’s super stripped-back missives don’t rely on samples or field capture – they’re all him, his choice of instruments and the cavernous space that surrounds it all. While a flurry of strings elevates the fragile “Hiding” into something special, for example, it’s the hissing silence of Franczak’s capture that swells in your ears and transforms it into teary cinematics. Semi-improv and semi-instrumental, isolated strumming in oceans of echo dominates. Its meditative and peaceful, metallic strings shimmering like the waters of some beachside idyll. Wheezy accordion drones creep in to the opener, “Lazing”, while deep, solemn brass helps the ghostly mews and guitar shapes of “Floating” coalesce into something delightful.

Franczak’s chord changes are audible, his fingers sliding down the fret. “Slips and mistakes” remain in situ so as not to devalue the creative process. His delicate finger-work meanders but is never less than emotional. And, amidst interludes and one-man jams built on clanging metallic drones and stream-of-conscious guitar, are strewn moments of magic. The hyper-intimate “Laughing” is rendered utterly beguiling with a literal mew and clean acoustics. A light fuzz of distortion lands “Crying” somewhere between the solo set-up of A Grave With No Name and the experimentalism of Irma Vep. Long Story Short’s most commercially appealing and longest cut, “Moving” combines scuffed piano keys with what seems like a chorus, piercing star-spangled noise later reducing the tender edifice to rubble.

Franczak’s fragmented, unfocused take on the Avant Garde has no right to be this compelling, but under the tutelage of mastering engineer Marcin Bocinski and thanks to the expert mixing skills of The Norman Conquest [TNC], a producer known for his work with Barn Owl, Grouper and Blixa Bargeld amongst others, his raw clay has come alive and these fascinating nine tracks are the sound of it breathing.

~Long Short Story is out now via Too Many Fireworks.~