It's possible to trace the history of Glass right back to the late 60s, although even after venturing from their homes in the Pacific Northwest to Europe in the hope of gathering up a record deal, splitting, briefly reforming and then (seemingly) departing for good around '76, the band never actually released any music. However in the belief that the rest of the world had finally caught up with the Glass take on the Canterbury Sound, 1999 saw the band come back together and since 2004 they have now released a number of studio albums (and one live offering), with Palindrome being the fourth.
So was the rest of the world lagging behind the Glass musical template? Well considering that in essence what Palindrome serves up is a reasonably basic Soft Machine sound, then it's hard to suggest that Glass are (or were) forging into pastures radically fresh and new. Instead church organ becomes a major feature of the likes of "No Sanctuary" or "Satori" and whilst it is played beautifully and sounds marvellous, the pervading feeling is that in the end these meandering moments wend and wind without ever really having a firm idea of where they're headed. In the end it's frustrating because there are hints and suggestions of interest and intricacy that simply and stubbornly refuse to reveal themselves, meaning it's hard to get rid of the feeling that Glass is a band satisfying their own musical needs without ever really taking the listener with them.
"Hughtopia" highlights the vintage recording sounds utilised to set the scene and atmosphere and it does have to be said that the relaxed and easy feel does become hypnotically engaging, especially when the fuzzed feel adds a little oomph. Yet it is the spaced out swooshes and swoops of the electronic based grind of "Arrhythmia Linger Longer" that best highlights the mood here, with twenty minutes worth of sounds and noises gently going nowhere as they simply wash over the listener with little purpose. It's interesting for a minute or two but as the piece stretches out to something approaching ten times that length the patience really is worn thin. Add to that "The Rain Song" which plings and plongs in a way that made me wonder if my cell phone hadn't created its own 80s chirping land-line ring tone and in truth there are just too many skip-able moments here to hold the attention for any length of time. In between, "Wake For Owsley" does provide a huge dollop of "sunrising" atmosphere and "The Water Is Always Moving" the shimmering beauty its name suggests, but these chinks of light arrive too sparsely to properly pierce through the gloom.
Devotees of the Canterbury sound may find some solace here, but overall the lack of excitement or purpose undoes much of the good work attempted and I can't imagine ever having the motivation to visit Palindrome, or Glass again.
1. No Sanctuary
4. The Water Is Always Moving On
5. The Rain Song
6. Wake For Owsley
7. Arrhythmia / Linger Longer
10. Singing Bowls
Added: June 15th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Glass on facebook
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