‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’, is a well-known quotation from the Bible and the perfect place to begin a review on an album from Matthew Mayer, dedicated to a remarkable man who did indeed lay down his life for a friend in the horror that was Auschwitz in the war years of 1941.
This man was Rajmund Maximillian Kolbe whose story haunted Mayer to the effect that he eventually travelled, in 2015, to Poland to walk where this man, a Conceptual Franciscan Friar and Polish Catholic Priest, had lived his life.
16670 was Kolbe’s number, this album is dedicated to his selfless love for mankind. In his notes on the album Mayer says he was drawn to creating the musical version of Kolbe’s story by something bigger than himself, to telling his story through the wonderful medium of music.
The backstory to the creation of this deeply moving work was unknown until the time came to write the review. On the first, second and third listening, nothing but beauty, elegance and peace coupled with a wonderful sense of comfort, and relaxation was apparent; the perfect end to a busy day. To discover the reason, the meaning behind the compositions is not at all surprising in the light of the words from Mayer, saying he was drawn to create the work by something far bigger than himself.
Perhaps the parallel can be drawn that in this time of global distress, stories such as Kolbe’s need to be remembered to shine a light of hope for the future into a wold that for many is filled with fear and hopeless confusion. How better to do this than with the healing gift of music.
16670 is a deep dark piece, simple and yet dramatic, which flows into a more relaxed, and yet somehow more sombre piece Glasses, as the image of glasses conjures up the famous photograph of a pile of glasses found in the death camps of Germany at the end of the war.
As the work unfolds the titles capture the journey not just of the music, but of the emotions felt by many, then and in present times, facing the certainty of what was feared most, accepting the final outcome whatever it may be. Kid Rajmund concludes an intimate collection with what could easily be considered as an exquisite requiem.
16670 tells a poignantly beautiful, emotional story, one into which Mayer has poured his heart and soul; an album of rare delicacy, intimate and graceful to the final note. Not All Hero’s Wear Capes is the final line on the Press Release; we have all been discovering this in our extraordinary year of 2020, to be so very, very true.