Bands We Like: Glasser

By Zachary Swickey

Once again I must thank 2011’s South By Southwest Music Festival for helping me discover a fresh, innovative band whose record I have been spinning non-stop throughout 2011. In January, I began combing through the collection of artists set to appear at SXSW (if you don’t do this, there will be at least a dozen bands you wish you had caught in hindsight) when I discovered the breathtaking music of Glasser and their debut Ring.

As I found my seat at the Central Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, I excitedly chatted with everyone around me, “Are you familiar with Glasser? Do you realize what we’re about to see?” Everyone understood why I was so elated once Cameron Mesirow’s mesmerizing, angelic vocals filled the entire room – supplying the perfect acoustics to hear the star-in-the-making. (Even the less-than-stellar iPhone video I quickly shot looks and sounds amazing).

Glasser is the perfect band to exemplify the ease with which music can be made with today’s technologies. Mesirow (think Trent Reznor – Nine Inch Nails) had always wanted to make music but it wasn’t until she finally learned the ins and outs of computer software GarageBand in 2007 that she finally began undertaking the task. After famously recording her first demos on the program, Mesirow reached out to producer Ariel Rechtshaid – who has worked with Theophilus London and Diplo/Switch power-duo Major Lazer – to help flesh out the songs (despite the fact that she felt they were near completion).

Mesirow discussed working with her friend to Buzzine, saying, “We worked together, and he was able to change my thinking about these demos being finished, which now, when I listen back to them, I feel like, ‘How could I have thought that was finished?’” After completing work on roughly two-thirds of the album with Rechtshaid, Mesirow jetted-off to Stockholm to wrap up the project with Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid (producers who’ve worked with other female electronic artist, like Fever Ray, as well as remixing acts like Massive Attack and Lykke Li). The duo supplied Mesirow with plenty of musical gadgets to help create the ambient sounds found on her debut.

Released back in September of 2010, Glasser’s debut Ring is not shy about dabbling in all sorts of various electro-sounds. “Mirrorage” contains what sounds like the sampling of wind chimes against sporadic taps on the xylophone as Mesirow hauntingly distorts her voice through a vocoder. The xylophone makes another appearance next to some hand-clap-sampling in “Home” as Mesirow’s layered echoes provide backup vocals for herself with a synth adding a smooth atmosphere in the background. The opening track “Apply” starts off with some rocky percussion and quirky vocal moments akin to Bjork before the soaring chorus kicks in with a low-end synth that sounds like a vintage organ.

You’ll probably wonder what instruments are actually being played and which are just digital samples. Well, the video below helps illustrate the mind-blowing process in which Glasser brings the songs to life in a live setting. As you’ll see, the band’s guitarist uses a midi-pickup, which allows him to essentially “play” any instrument or sound found on the laptop to which it’s connected. It’s a pretty rad use of technology, and we bet it takes ridiculous talent to apply the concept of playing a guitar to another instrument entirely – we’re surprised it hasn’t gone viral given the uniqueness.

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