Review: Mid-Air! & Elliott Sellers – Glasswerx (self-released, Feb 15)

The “set limitations” of Glasswerx, as outlined on the cassette packaging:

  1. No laughing, breathing, or other human sounds audible on record
  2. When striking glass, striking utensils must not be audible (table or water sounds discouraged)
  3. Re-sampling, pitching, and other technological advancements permitted when extremely necessary, providing [sic] original glass timbre is preserved
  4. Effects may not be used unless they originate from mic and/or recording technique
  5. Absolutely no sound except glass

Considering the otherwordly textural and harmonic heights reached by these two musicians on Glasswerx, it would be hard to believe that all of those strict rules were in place without reading them first. Over 45 distinct tracks and about sixty minutes, this adventurous duo (about either of whom, for the life of me, I cannot find any information) delve deep into the sonic possibilities offered by their arsenal of glass, with each short segment establishing itself as a well-composed expansion of a particular idea. I can only assume that the amount of work put into this album is mind-boggling; the longest piece by far is “Never Be the Same,” at not even five minutes, but like many of its brethren it explores a sound-world so lush and immersive it seems like it could only be five times its actual length. There are too many tracks to talk about all of them in detail, but the fact that I can pick out practically any of them and discuss their amazing qualities—”Sword Sharpening” with its sublime rapid bowing and expansive stereo clatters, “First Break” and its beautifully dissonant major seventh melodies, the visceral bass crunches of “Infant”—is a testament to the painstakingly consistent quality of Glasswerx.

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