After several EP’s over the last couple of years, Johanna Glaza’s album has been a while coming but her unique voice and kooky classical chamber pop music is something that clearly takes time to concoct.
Glaza opens her album with the stop/start, launch and lurch “Space Mermaid” which bounces between industrial clunks and then airy piano led sections. Coming from her previous piano and string based production, this expansion of her sound palette is really welcome. If you’re new to Johanna’s music then the first thing you’ll notice is her voice. It has a child like innocence to it but also a distinct quiver and pronunciation. Think a calmer and more controlled Joanna Newsom, as Glaza doesn’t scream or break her voice – it’s more operatic and Kate Bush like – and her voice shines in the more psychedelic elements of this opener. “Coming Home” is more of a tale of dreams, fathers and trees – metaphorically blocking the path to a goal or destination. The sweet piano riffs that permeate all of Glaza’s work give way to more cinematic big chord stabs in the middle as Johanna really gives it some welly. It feels lazy to say Kate Bush like, and it is, but the vocal range of Glaza matches her perfectly. The title track follows with equally cinematic chamber pop moments and beautifully evocative lyrics of love and yearning as time signatures and tempos wind up and down over its various movements.
“In the Shadow” quietens the album down with a haunting piano and vocal piece that in the interlude sections breaks out a vicious buzzsaw bass line to give a broken and sinister edge to Glaza’s coo’s. “Desires” keeps that haunting feel with an initially sickly sweet piano and vocal arrangement that cleverly shifts octaves at a whim. Pitch bending on disorienting synths is something Johanna enjoys as is appears both here, and in the fun “Million Years” which has the calmest chorus, and then a funky verse with unusual percussion and percussive piano playing. There’s a real jazzy side hidden underneath the kooky layer of singer/songwriter it peaks out to play in this track.
“R.M.”‘s short thirty-second ditty to sleep gives way to “All Those Dreams” with its dreamy arpeggios and choral vocal arrangements of Glaza’s voice. Everything has a slight echo to it, giving it an otherworldly and light feel. It’s artistic song structure feels more like an out-of-body experience as it floats around lots of noises with only the track title being repeated for actual words. It’s wonderfully artsy and exactly what I’d expected from earlier works. “Arctic” brings in a cute uke to replace the piano as the main spine of the music and it’s an adorable piece. Johanna’s ooh’s are the most adorable in recent audible memory and combined with an ear worm of the uke, what’s not to love? The album closes with the creepy “Don’t Fall Don’t Break” which takes us back to the kind of music she created in her first EP’s. Piano, xylophone, and lots of sweet music that would shit you up if it was played in a horror movie. The knife-edge of sweet and eerie is the perfection where Johanna sits.
It’s that knife-edge that makes Wind Sculptures utterly compelling. She doesn’t often follow the usual song structure, her instruments are a mish mash and her voice is distinctive. If there’s one new artist you take into your heart in 2017 as you new queen of kooky, make it Johanna Glaza.