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Glass Eights


This is the highly-anticipated debut album from American electronic artist John Roberts. Glass Eights debuts a sound impeccably curated and delicately enigmatic. With its contemplative instrumental weave, this album asks broader cultural questions about the psychological function of music as it blurs distinctions between sublimation and expression, escape and confrontation, medication and symptom, repression and reserve. The electric and grand piano, organ, violin, modular synthesizers and eclectic percussion split, shatter and reform, disclosing an aesthetic sensibility which delicately reflects on the eerie stillness of a grey day, the repetition of a single note on a detuned upright piano, a deflated balloon, the white of a funeral arrangement, exhibiting a kind of discrete, perverse hopefulness. Complicating melancholy, the emptiness of a mechanized loop serves to reveal a particular humaneness, caused by a percussive rapping, shattering into slow-motion, or an off-keyed drunken note of a piano begins to sound strangely in tune, finding itself transmuted into something more obscure, potent, and hard-hitting. Rendering awkwardness enigmatic and anxiety beautiful, effectively, Roberts' questions if there is not something more natural, more human, in the hesitation of a clap that rings a moment too late. The album's interior reserve heightens the potency of its immaculate transitions, which harness a primal sense of rhythm and, at times, the utter impossibility of standing still. Echoes of influence can be found in The Smiths' self-deprecating charm of the tragic, the muted, off-key eroticism of Bonnie "Prince" Billy, introverted house music of early '80s Chicago undermining its own progression, falling apart and collecting itself into darker psychological territory. The album nods to the production of mainstream rap and R&B, cultural and ethnic appropriations/dialogues between early European and American electronic music and modern anxiety, acknowledging both the productive and problematic nature of technological innovation. Glass Eights does not just generate a new auditory experience but builds an ornate frame through which to view the intricate psychological undertones in music of the past, and more importantly, constructs an anomaly that sounds a lot like the future.