Glasser | Ring (True Panther)

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On the surface, her list of influences seems dissonant, disconnected and difficult to mix into a coherent whole. But Glasser has a unique ability to consolidate forms, both organic and synthetic, into seamless melodies that are almost meditative in their execution.

 

 

Recently, I began studying yoga at a boutique studio near my house. The teachers there don’t always play traditional Indian compositions when we practice, and after listening to Ring a few times through, it occurred to me that this would be a perfect yoga album. Yoga focuses on the mind-body connection, and there is a meditative aspect to the practice. Glasser’s first full-length album, a shining mix of ancient and modern rhythms and tones, would complement one’s practice quite well.
 
Just like asanas, each song on Ring flows into the next, taking one common element and twisting or layering it into new ones. With each song, Glasser creates a new piece of work, individual, but part of a connected whole as well. And just as each asana, or pose, includes variations and modifications for each practitioner, the titles on this album conjure simple images, open to interpretation for each listener. When put together in a series, the tracks create a flow that is bigger than the sum of its parts. Cameron Mesirow is the solitary writer of these songs. Along with producer Ariel Rechtshaid, she worked to formulate a cycle of music that incorporates elements of monastic prayer, Eastern and Western influences, orchestras, rave clubs and the ancient tattoo of tribal drums.
 
On the surface, her list of influences seems dissonant, disconnected and difficult to mix into a coherent whole. But Glasser has a unique ability to consolidate forms, both organic and synthetic, into seamless melodies that are almost meditative in their execution. The first song, “Apply,” is vocally reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor, with Mesirow singing in a dynamic upper register. Her voice is forceful, as much an instrument as the drums or synthesizer filling in the melody. The plinking tones of a xylophone set the mood for “Home,” along with handclaps and a persistent bass drum. “Glad” builds on the recurring theme of circles, and with its Asian influences, it calls to mind the visual of Chinese fan dancers. “Plane Temp” evokes a sense of flying, with its soaring, open arrangement. “T” sounds like early 80s British new wave, as if Midge Ure himself were at the helm. “Tremel” is a song of confusion, searching and uncertainty—in it Mesirow sings, “We were drowning and laughing along with the tide.” 
 
In “Mirrorage,” Glasser’s songs are returning to the Earth, again weaving both organic and synthetic structures into a perfectly matched musical yin and yang. All of the songs on Ring have that dichotomy in their structure and execution—the drumbeat on this track feels like a heartbeat, with layers of droning synthesizers and bells like breaking glass. “Treasury of We,” a song about unity created from differences, seems to be as close to pop music as Glasser wants to get. Finally, “Clamour” initially seems organized, with intricately layered musical elements, but quickly turns into something much more random. Sounds wander in and out of your ears and then fade out with the exact same drumbeat that began the album.
 
Just as yoga is practiced through a series of poses performed in a pattern, all of the songs on Ring are patterns. All music tells a story. Ring is a story about finding one’s way, about the circles we travel on our journey, and about how we often return to where we began. Grade: A- | Courtney Rau
 
RIYL: Imogen Heap, Sinead O’Connor, Peter Gabriel

 

 

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