Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Brian Glaze - Rainsplitter

Brian Glaze's first record, Let's Go to the Sea, had a similar feel to a Gris Gris or Mirrors record, with grainy analog production, instrumental minimalism and a circus-like darkness hovering above influences in '60s psychedelia. A reasonable comparison; Gris Gris/Mirrors mastermind Greg Ashley co-produced and played half the instruments on Let's Go the Sea – theremin, electric cello and organ among them. On the other hand, the record also made Glaze sort of worthy of comparison to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in their Howl phase, or even the Brian Jonestown Massacre (Glaze was a drummer for the latter), but with more of a childlike feel (as is, again, accomplished by Greg Ashley's work, or a slight likeness to Syd Barrett, to whom Glaze's style has been compared and which is quite apparent on “Brittle Piece of My Heart”).

Glaze has got a very average – not bad, just average – male voice that is neither high nor low, neither powerful nor weak. But he made it work by forcing himself into the audible range, just barely, above the rush of acoustic strums, psychedelic electric sound waves, and tambourine beats thickly swirling around him. That first record felt and sounded like a dream sequence, if a dream sequence could be felt and heard; it floated or rushed wherever fit, yet managed to flow fluidly regardless of which moment you got caught in. “Can I Look at You?” was a tropical adventure that somehow fit in on the album as well as it would have fit on Greg Ashley's last solo record, while the tight and tense “Well Did Ya Mean It?” or “Oh My God, God” would have worked well on Howl.

There was a big '60s psych folk influence on Brian Glaze in 2006, and it worked beautifully then, but 2007 has found Glaze gradually evolving out of the lo-fi and into an odd variety of efforts. Rainsplitter, released on June 12 as Glaze's second record on Birdman, sees the multi-instrumentalist testing out clearer production and a wider range of styles. “Magic Lover” is the new “Can I Look at You?” but “21-31” is an out-of-place experiment in '80s new wave, despite a rather exciting theme (“You're so damn young/and I'm 31”). And there are odd, ambiguously intentional humorous bits, like the awkward doo-wop-style finger snapping and bass harmony of “Biff Rose,” or the fun stomp of “Bad News,” both of which also seem misplaced among songs that might have been nicely incorporated into Glaze's debut.

Interestingly enough, though, it's not so much the variety of Rainsplitter that makes it less exciting than Let's Go to the Sea so much as the lack of distortion that comes out of it. Maturation is nice, but a good fifty percent of this record is of the same style as Glaze's first record, and that older material worked because it took the psych folk theme and ran with it. “Last Exit” on Rainsplitter is another one of those Gris Gris-style freakouts, but this cleaner production job makes it much more controlled than it could be, and this song's dilemma essentially epitomizes the issue with the overall record. But Brian Glaze is still a decent songwriter, and Rainsplitter, if nothing else, is still a decent record.

Sample Let's Go to the Sea (because I like a tease).
Brian Glaze - Oh My God, God
Brian Glaze - Oh Baby Don't Go to the Sea
Brian Glaze - Don't Believe in Love

Purchase Rainsplitter (available June 12)
Brian Glaze on Birdman Records.


brian glaze said...

"Psychedelia is fucking dead!!!!!!!!!! I hate B.R.M.C, B.J.M. Black LIps. Black Fucking Angles, and other Black shit!"

Mr. Glaze

Rye said...

This review is a steaming turd. You are complaining because the production isn't dirty and grubby and lo-fi enough for you? That it attempts to move beyond the 60s psych style you so clearly identify with? So you are basically upset with the artist for attempting change? Isn't that what art is?

C'mon man, try a little harder next time and strive for more valid criticisms than "it wasn't the same as the last one."

China said...

Sorry to upset the musician himself with my steaming turd - you're both equally entitled to opinions, especially if you were the one making the record. I don't think anyone should make the same record twice, and I'm glad to have seen something new attempted, but I happened to like the consistency of the first one just a bit better. Isn't everyone entitled to like one phase of art more than another? My opinion's only as valid as the next person's - I just opted to write mine down.

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