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July 12, 2010 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Glass Vaults


Glass Vaults are a Newtown-based duo comprised of Richard Larsen and Rowan Pierce, and have been making quite the buzz around Wellington with their excellent live set over the last few months. With the release of their excellent self-titled debut EP they’re proving that the attention, which is rapidly spreading throughout the interwebs, has been more than justified.

The website for Sonorous Circle, the artist’s collective which released Glass Vaults, describes the EP as “a cloud-dwelling pop delight”. It’s a description so apt that I won’t bother to attempt to top it. Producer Bevan Smith (of Signer fame) will inevitably receive much of the credit for his spacious and airy mix, which makes Glass Vaults perhaps the most impressively recorded local release I’ve heard in some time. Crucially though, Glass Vaults take full advantage, blending together an impeccably arranged array of guitars, synths and delicate falsetto vocals into a set of tracks that cover the spectrum from ambient mood pieces (opener ‘They Will Grow’) to Sigur-Rosian epics (‘Set Sail’, ‘Forget Me Not’). And while much of the album is relatively accessible, the third track, ‘New Space’, also demonstrates a pleasing experimental bent, with its jittery percussion and reverb-heavy vocals reminiscent of the better work of Christchurch’s Mount Pleasant (which these pages praised so effusively last year).

For such a short release—Glass Vaults clocks in at just under 25 minutes—the band manage to weave in an enormous variety of sounds, bending genres at will, and generally coming across as original and underivative. There’s plenty to praise here, but I think I’ll settle on two qualities in particular. The first is Larsen’s high-pitched vocals, which manage to convey plenty of emotion without ever sounding overly affected or shrill. Given the risks inherent in such an unrestrained style of delivery, this is quite the achievement. But perhaps even more impressive is the band’s approach to percussion. Simply put, the drums on Glass Vaults sound fucking immense. Mixing both acoustic and digital percussion, the drums are usually juxtaposed against the ambient backdrops, and the result is a spine that is both powerful and dynamic.

All up, Glass Vaults is a truly remarkable debut, and given that the band sounds at home in its more drawn out moments, it also bodes well for any future transition to the long player format. Oh yeah, and did I mention that it’s free? Just fire up Google…


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