Szymon Borzestowski lives on through the unwavering beauty of Tigersapp

The tragedy of an artist’s death forever freezes their work in time and colours their artistic statements with an extra layer of meaning. In the case of Szymon Borzestowski, a talented Newcastle singer-songwriter who took his life in 2012 at age 23, his debut LP Tigersapp offers an introduction to, compilation of and final offering of his creative talents.

Fervently laid down in the isolation of Szymon’s bedroom studio in 2008, the tracks which make up the album were cast aside before completion due to his ailing mental health. Fortunately Szymon’s work has been continued post-humously by his family, friends and music industry supporters out of a desire to honour Szymon and continue to tell his story.

Szymon Medusa

Szymon beyond a doubt was a talented artist, and what he has left us within Tigersapp is an album made with an honest mind and incredible musicianship.

It’s worth noting that Szymon’s supporters have brought in some serious production talent to add the finishing touches to Tigersapp. With both Rusty Santos (known for his work with Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear and Ariel Pink) as well as Ian Pritchett (Angus & Julia Stone) lending a hand in mixing the album, the former’s penchant for weaving mesmerising sonic textures and the latter’s talent for creating an intimate atmosphere are both evident in LP’s tracks.

Commendably (and perhaps a little unnervingly) the combination of contemporary production and Szymon’s acute pop sensitivity, evident in his playful experimentation with indie rock and some nascent electro soul, ensures that despite being several years old Tigersapp’s tracks easily feel at home in today’s pop climate.

Opening track Golden sets the tone of the LP. Ethereal guitar riffs twinkle and flow while honeyed vocals convey dreamy oceanic themes with lyrical hook “Floating across the sea“. Combining subdued instrumentation, vocals, rich sonic textures as well as an intermingling of optimism and melancholy Golden’s sound evokes acts like The Shins and Sufjan Stevens but also takes on a more woodsy and mid-tempo rock character in line with the likes of U.S. indie rockers Band of Horses.

Second track Locks explore a folksy side of Szymon’s sound. Reverberant vocals and harmonies seem distant yet demand focus. Both Locks and the more up-tempo third track Medusa demonstrate an underlying maturity to Szymon’s gentle lyrics and vocals.

Roma introduces some electronica with a catchy synth hook that interweaves with equally infectious vocal hooks. Drawing the listener into a dreamlike state the song’s narrative lyric likens feelings of obsession and infatuation to “A fever that just won’t go“. Driven by electronic beats, synth and horns Katyusha works in some chilled out synth-pop without feeling too out of place amongst other tracks. The electronic jaunt continues with the catchy electro funk of Runaway and the Eastern pastiche of instrumental Saigon.

Brokenworld’s upbeat lamentation of the turbulent state of the narrator’s world provides the album a Marvin Gaye What’s Going On moment. Perhaps giving some insight into Szymon’s own struggles, the track oscillates between optimistic and pessimistic moments before ultimately concluding on a positive note. Instrumental jams Polen and Zoo Story lead into penultimate track Trojan Stalks which provides a return the indie rock tone of the LP’s initial tracks. The heartfelt lamentation of the vocals on final track Floods contrast with bouncy tiki style fretwork to bring the album to a bittersweet close.

Setting the listener adrift with sugary vocals, poetic lyrics and immersive sonic textures Tigersapp is a nuanced, emotive and altogether well-crafted LP that can be experienced, cherished and celebrated in commemoration of an untimely passing of a talented Australian artist.