Glass is an American progressive band centered around brothers Greg and Jeff Sherman that first began making music in probably what was the most fertile time to be doing this sort of music, the 70's. What is truly mind blowing is that these guys could not get signed during the heady days of prog hysteria; they apparently even went to the U.K. with the same result. The band disbanded in 1979 with no formal recorded output to their name but all that changed when Musea Records, which is based in France, released those early recordings which came out as a double CD called No Stranger To The Skies. Now in 2005 the chance to hear some new material from Glass has finally come and the end result Illuminations is a real remarkable piece of work worthy of the long wait.
The band basically functions as a trio with both the Sherman brothers handling various types of keyboards, samples and loops as well as bass guitar while the drums are handled by Jerry Cook. Any guitars are conspicuously absent save for one track "Gaia" but with such an arsenal of different sounds available to them they've managed to fill out their sound brilliantly and I didn't find myself waiting for the appearance of the guitars at all. One thing which did surprise me and I'm still quite not sure why I felt this way is I initially had trouble getting into this CD on the first couple of listens but when I did finally get it I got hit in a big way. That being said the music on Illuminations is not a hard listen at all and true lovers of progressive music are going to love these guys.
The CD is basically comprised of 3 suites of music, "The Secret Life of Aqua J.Long", "Electronic Synaesthasia" and "Alchemy of The World", with two separate tracks to close it out, but in fact the whole disc flows rather seamlessly from track to track. "Overture" kicks things off and for a few seconds starts out sounding like "White Room" by Cream before it goes somewhere completely different with some very nice mellotron work. This track eventually segues nicely into the beginning hypnotic notes of "Astral Transascension" which at slightly over 7 minutes is the longest track on the CD. "Isle Of Dyslexia" comes next and this song features ex-Soft Machine member Hugh Hopper as a special guest on fuzz bass while Greg Sherman weaves his tape loops around him. "Medicine Man" which closes out the first suite is performed as a solo number by Jerry Cook who delivers a nice percussive piece complete with a spoken word voice over.
As a whole complete piece "Electronic Synaesthasia" delivers the most for me musically and its grandiose symphonic use of the keyboards in "The Hidden Room" had visions of early Tangerine Dream dancing in my eager brain. Pt 2 "The Crossing" begins with some really cool keyboard work and as the track unfolds the drums deliver a solid, fluid jazzy backbeat while what sounds like guitar, but is probably either the sound samples again or something called the Alembic Bass Guitar, weave their tapestry of sound around some great piano playing. "My Tantric Gatito" closes out the second suite. "Alchemy of The World" is the last and longest of the three suites and probably the most upbeat sounding as well. The true highlight is some really fantastic work on the Hammond organ by Greg as he almost single handedly propels "Delirium" with his Booker T like style.
By the time the disc closed out with the last 2 tracks just over 60 minutes had gone by and I found myself wanting more. As I mentioned the whole disc flows so easily from one track to another and what really impressed me was the way the band was able to create and paint such a large canvas of sound, using both the electronic and acoustic instruments to near perfection. This is one very enjoyable listening experience and if you admire the works of early Mike Oldfield and Tangerine Dream etc. you will need to add Glass to your collection. Let's hope we hear more from these talented musicians soon and don't have to wait as long for their next CD.
1 - Overture
2 - The Secret Life Of Aqua J. Long (I. Astral Transascension)
3 - The Secret Life Of Aqua J. Long (II. Isle Of Dyslexia)
4 - The Secret Life Of Aqua J. Long (III. Medicine Man)
5 - Electronic Synaesthasia (I. The Hidden Room)
6 - Electronic Synaesthasia (II. Crossing)
7 - Electronic Synaesthasia (III. My Tantric Gatito)
8 - Alchemy Of The World (I. Eclipse)
9 - Alchemy Of The World (II. Wanderlust)
10 - Alchemy Of The World (III. Eternity)
11 - Alchemy Of The World (IV. Reprise)
12 - Alchemy Of The World (V. Delirium)
13 - Alchemy Of The World (VI. Falling)
14 - Slightly Behind All The Time
15 - Gaia