GoGo Penguin meets Jon Hopkins on the jazzy dancefloor.
Glass Museum enter their third album with a renewed sense of cinematography. The duo’s brand of jazztronica has been wildly exciting as two people make more noise than whole quintets with ease. With “Reflet”, Glass Museum move away from the easier “new jazz” collectives into a more electronic scene and build their own identity further as a result.
The album is certainly less immediate than their stunning previous album “Reykjavik” although “Elipse” is a superb bridge song between the two albums. Here, soaring piano melodies and chunky bombastic drums are the order of the day. The riffs are never direct with Glass Museum, they allude to something and partner shift around it instead, making repeat listens more engaging. However, if you have arrived expecting more of the GoGo Penguin and Portico Quartet jazz vibes, you’ll be switching your double bass for synths. This album is more electronic than meets the ear.
The title track makes an excellent example of this. “Reflet” is built around a cyberpunk-esque dirty electric piano and synth arpeggiator. It slowly washes in guitar feedback synths and pulsing drums until it explodes into a cinematic odyssey for a sci-fi movie. It is dissonant like a refracted warning siren but totally immersive at the same time. “Shiitake” is a playful percussive piece that has blinking and beeping synths tweaking out in full stereo. It reminds me a lot of Takayuki Nakamura’s work on Lumines. There’s a rigidity and place to every sound but Glass Museum bring the piano and acoustic drums in to give it humanity and flavour. “Caillebotis” shows this off beautifully as the two play off of each other like they are going into musical battle before joining forces. It sounds odd on the surface but house and breakbeat influences pop out across the album too.
Some of my favourite moments on the album are when the cinematic elements of Glass Museum are fully explored. “Swimming Trees” is a slow-motion wade through brushed drums and deep echoed piano and synths. “Auburn” starts out as a jazz number before transitioning into a glitchy dystopian grimy synth refraction. Vocal snippets and synths refract around your ears as the drums roll out like a nightmare. The six-minute “Opal Sequences” is another fine moment where a brooding build-up of tension turns into piano-led house… jazz style of course.
There simply isn’t anyone else quite pushing jazz into this style of electronica quite like Glass Museum. It is definitely an album that requires a few listens to click with as it’s a layered and shape-shifting beast. Some may struggle after more direct tracks from their previous efforts but “Reflet” rewards mood and patience. Dive in.
Recommended track: Reflet
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