The prodigious music to be found on Tigersapp might have been overshadowed by its tragic story. That this isn’t the case is testament indeed to the beauty of the musical craftsmanship here.
At just 19 years of age, Szymon was on the verge of a recording deal with EMI. But having pieced together an album’s worth of material in his home studio, the multi-instrumentalist was forced to devote his energies to battling debilitating depression, before tragically taking his own life in 2012.
We can be very thankful that his family and friends were determined that his music saw the light of day. The result is Tigersapp, a posthumous debut album that deserves high praise while leaving us lamenting the abundant artistic output that might have been. In addition to the immeasurable human loss, this is also the world’s great loss.
In contrast with the very sad circumstances that gave rise to Tigersapp, the music is bright, lively and brimming with ideas. The crafting of the tracks gives us insight into Szymon as a musical perfectionist, whose compositions are delicate and painstaking in their construction.
For the most part, the album has a modern hue, akin to the careful sonic fashionings of Goyte and Bon Iver. With Szymon ranking comfortably alongside the likes of these two (on what was his first home-made project), we get some idea of his great talent. And although the tracks display an astute ear for samples and electronic effects, there is also a palpable devotion to the organic, giving the LP a gentle, authentic flavour.
Szymon the producer is most prominent on the instrumental tracks, such as the hypnotic ‘Katyusha’ and the slow groove of ‘Saigon’. While there has been justifiable hype surrounding the inventive musical landscapes created on the new Tame Impala album, Tigersapp deserves just as much attention.
But there’s more than just a latter-day producer vibe here, with some moments harking back to 70s folk; the vocals on ‘Locks’, for instance, channel Simon and Garfunkel.
The whole album is a remarkably consistent effort, making it difficult to pick out highlights. While the luminous beauty of ‘Golden’ and the neat alt-pop of ‘Roma’ catch the ear upon first listen, the recording is full of moments that promise to reward in different ways upon repeated visits.
It is very sad that Szymon is no longer with us; his brief musical legacy is a pure joy that will continue to give.
Tigersapp is out now from Eloper Music / EMI.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor