Szymon’s ‘Tigersapp’ is a Thing of Beauty

Szymon is a caster of spells; he weaves sound into this vivid, rich-with-colour tapestry. He catches sonic threads tousled wantonly by the wind and plaits them into the braid of his artistry. He does this with soft-handedness and gentility, and as such sound rallies to him on its own accord to rest in the warmth of his genius. There is no doubt that Szymon is otherworldly talented, that his relationship to music was more than sublunary. All of his soundscapes are an unforced gathering of keys, brass and strings, everything reposes and croons from its set place. It really is a bewitching experience to listen to; all the elements gyre and turn together like unison-flying flocks of birds tracking through cream cumuli. The point is that it feels profoundly organic, prime and vital, in a way that one rarely experiences.

Szymon cannot be placed in any single genre – his songs can be pure sonic narratives (Katyusha, Saigon, Zoo Story), or lush, from-the-forest folk anthems (Golden, Locks, Trojan Stalks, Floods) or even sugar-sweet 60s/70s pop revival tunes (Medusa). I am sure, however, that many will try to pigeonhole him as another iteration of the indie-folk zeitgeist. But Szymon is not stale, nor trivial, nor conformist. He proves on his posthumous album, Tigersapp, that he is profoundly human and connected. This body of work cannot be made secondary to the concerns of genre obsessors. It cannot be reduced to an auditory blimp, an atom, when it is fact star-like in its proportions. Tigersapp is the distilled voice of a sufferer, and it will speak to us for longer than Szymon could have imagined.

I could write without end about the songs on this album. But just as a foretaste, I will share my thoughts and feelings on two songs. Katyusha is a revelation. There are so many things: the way the clutter-clap of the drums lends its texture to the sirening vocal sample, the way the trumpet’s metallic voice slips into the lush bundles of instrumentation, the way the guitar glides with a sensuous Che Guevara-esque wanderlust. It is an incredibly well-crafted sound-piece that would be better described as high-art. It flung me onto some far-off landscape burnt orange by the sun’s fire, fragrant with fruit-festooned forests and played upon by dry-with-cool winds. It transported me.

Zoo Story did the same thing. Different to Katyusha, it has this deep groove that makes your bones rattle with rhythm. Szymon builds the song’s percussive architecture, by intersecting and layering wooden, glassy and metallic beats. He holds the teeming mass of clicks and clacks in order by means of a guitar melody, found I imagine in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magical South America. I don’t know why, but so much of Szymon’s music evokes images of the mist swept Andes, and the green infinity of the Amazon. Perhaps, it was a world that he longed for – a world of life, living life.

It is incredibly sad that Szymon took his life in December 2012. Debilitated and shrunken by his battle with depression, Szymon could not bear to continue. But he has left us with a powerful body of work that affirms life in all its complicated expressions. Szymon might not have been able to save himself, but I have not doubt that he will be saving others.