Reykjavik - Glass Museum (Album Review)
24 April 2020
Album Rating 4 / 5
Live Potential 4.5 / 5
Solo Performances 4 / 5
Diversity in Songs 4.5 / 5
Favourite Songs Abyss, Nimbus part I, Colophane, IOTA
Belgian instrumental duo Glass Museum have returned with their second album Reykjavik to be released on Ghent-based label Sdban Records, following their 2018 debut Deux. Consisting of Brussels musicians Antoine Flipo (synths) and Martin Grégoire (drums), they combine electronics with a Scandi-esque jazz flow that results in an album ranging from EDM-dancefloor ready tunes to atmospheric, orchestral interludes.
Very typical of a lot of cross-genre musicians in the contemporary jazz scene, the combination of these different styles can have so many different outcomes and theirs is certainly unique despite their obvious comparisons; their jazz element is similar to GoGo Penguin whilst the electronics have influences from Jon Hopkins and Floating Points. The international music scene opened itself to the band in 2019, with the duo performing in Hamburg, the legendary Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, and in Reykjavik before finally heading back to the studio enriched and enlightened. They had this to say about their experiences and its impact on the new album:
“We have a much more mature relationship with music than we did before. We’re not trying to prove something through technique anymore - we want to bring sounds to life [...] and return to the roots of a more effusive music.”
First single 'Abyss' floats along a wave of melancholy and optimism in a cinematic way, as the official video featuring Sofia Moreira dancing reveals its dramatic nature. The soft piano has an electronic manipulation that increases the song's intensity, reminiscent of techno-wizard Stephan Bodzin in his music as the dynamics fluctuate with percussive elements entering as the piano moves quicker as climaxes come and go with great effect. This song captures my attention the most and sets the tone for the rest of the songs to follow on the album as the second half feels a lot more succinct conceptually.
The latest single 'Clothing' also has an imaginative video, directed by Simon Medard as the song provides a soundscape for the international travelogue aiming to reconnect your bond with nature and our collective environment. The track was composed as a live remix of 'Opening' which features on Deux, as the duo states "the idea was to give ‘Opening’ another dimension when playing live by accelerating the arpeggiator of the original track and by adding a groovy, downtempo beat on the first part, and secondly to conclude our live performances with a regular techno beat that would give an electronic-dancy sensation." A healthy amount of synths drive this song that includes a heavily-trap inspired drum beat to enhance the electronica vibes.
The title track 'Reykjavik' starts as a grandiose opener for the album as it has a bouncy, bright energy to it. The two 'Nimbus' songs offer different piano moods from Flipo, with 'part I' emanating a beautiful jazz tone as Grégoire's drums really push the stabs into a fluid motion, with electronics used to highlight the melody and provide an upbeat feeling. 'Part II' reflects a more mellow taste from the piano as the electronics waver and buzz on top with the subdued bass drum and hihat licks teasing before a dancefloor drop.
'Colophane' feels like a ballad as Flipo introduces and retracts various piano phrasings in this acoustic ambient song that allows him to lead completely and with superb conviction. Second single 'IOTA' finishes the album as Grégoire's drums seem to come to life the most in this song, with his use of the ride cymbal communicating with the piano as they both become livelier in this more melodic orchestral-type arrangement. It has a big finale as the electronics typically surge in to add to the grandeur of the track.
The duality of the two musicians is what makes Reykjavik a chiaroscuro of moments that range from vibrant and energetic to the more melancholy and cinematic. Glass Museum undoubtedly have a glowing, sunny electronic sound but they can incorporate this into classical and jazz arrangements which gives the duo a real authenticity, cementing their place in the international jazz scene with a distinctively precise fusion of these genres.
Watch the videos of their singles and other tracks here:
Buy or stream Reykjavik here:
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