Let’s begin with the obvious. It has been 25 years since Glueleg released their last album. Clodhopper came out in 1997 with their hit Pistons and then disappears after that. I will have to find out what happened and get back to you. I was privy that they got back in the studio last year and decided to see if they still had something to say.
Well this new release says a lot. They chose an all instrumental recording with 20 different themes running through it. This sounds like it could be a difficult sell, considering they walked away from a hit many years earlier. Instrumental music rarely sees the chart. As you delve into this new record, you will quickly discover this is not about having a hit, but expanding the musical knowledge they have accumulated over the years and their new form of alternative progressive rock is fresh and new and exciting.
The opening track- The Aegis- is a spacey psychedelic monster that seeps into your pores with severe tension that wakes you up immediately. In contrast, the next piece- Neuroeconomics- is a cold calculated piece of machinery that transforms into a more elaborate purpose.
As each song unfolds, you eventually notice a blend of house music, with progressive ideas. It blends both masculine and feminine energies. For example if King Crimson was an all female band they may do a piece called- Soft Power. Flip that back to a masculine sound and you get the ugly, clunky monster called- Chonk.
Havana Syndrome- sends you to Cuba to smoke funny cigars while- El Pulpo- has some excellent interplay with the spotlight landing on the drummer, who really shows off his high flying energy.
Black Tinnitus- is filled with dark sounds that drill holes into your psyche, and then you have a spiritual uneasiness that tells an entire story that ends with surrender and release. This is- The ballad of Audrey Munson.
The title track- Horror Vacui- begins with tension coming from a ticking clock, build slowly with total apprehension and dictates a slow surrender. For me the highlight is the tune- Lobotomy Chic. First off, I love the title…very cool. I sense brain waves running in fear and then occasionally getting caught in a trap.
Sorry, the geek in me has to bring this up, but at the beginning of Emerson’s Elephant, I can distinctly hear a moment of Nash the Slash’s- Remember When, as the opening notes to this tune about a funky pachyderm.
I wish I could go song by song in this review, but that could add many chapters to this simple review. There is not one weak piece on this record. Each song is a journey into your imagination and the details are very fine and precise. You can hear how much thought went into recording this and still hold the fire that fans its flame around each song. It is a recording that doesn’t let you breathe calmly for very long because it constantly is filled with a level of tension throughout, from beginning to the end.
Anyway, how many times can I mention the word tension here? The record is filled with it. That is what makes this a great record. It keeps you on the edge of your listening seat. The playing is at the top of its game and the ideas are fresh and new. Isn’t that what progressive rock is supposed to be about.
It may have taken Glueleg 25 year to reunite and the beautiful thing is they don’t sound tired or rehashing old ideas. It feels up to date and open enough to create a brand new path not just for the band, but for music in general. This is the kind of band that keeps our music scene vibrant and alive. I encourage other Toronto musicians to get this and listen to the detail they put into this. Simply put a dynamic and original album filled with good in-Tensions…