Danceable harshness, ordinary sadness, sophisticated elegance
Formed in London in 2003, glassglue present their first album, Fantods, on the German label Klangbad after ten years of live performances. Label-founder Hans-Joachim Irmler discovered the band in 2010 playing their regular slot in London’s legendary blues and punk venue, the 12 Bar Club.
The music of glassglue moves between punk, avant-garde, rock and folk, as hesitantly romantic lyrics are transported by angular, slightly atonal guitar, keyboard and an aggressive, yet complex rhythm section. This fusion results in an energetic but minimalist musical approach that does not lack a subdued sense of humour, either.
Recorded at Faust Studio in Southern Germany, the 13 tracks on Fantods have been road-tested, selected and condensed through the slow distillation process of years of gigging until the rough crystalline beauties could be entrusted to Irmler and his team for polishing. In their Irmler-ized versions, the songs exude a disturbing warmth and almost Southern charm. This befits the lyrics that mostly circle around some of the classical themes of popular song – mildly ironic complaints about disappointed or impossible love, loss and estrange- ment; ordinary things, delivered matter-of-factly, whispering and shouting, with all the stumbling and hesitation of the old-fashioned romantic.
Harsh, yet elegantly corseted, glassglue’s live show is mostly a no-nonsense affair with little time for pleasan- tries: one reviewer compared the experience to a car crash and a stay in a hospital that is memorable rather than enjoyable. Frontman Marcel Stoetzler has a captivating stage presence evoking a savant in a suit straight out of a 1920s silent zombie film. His vocals are driven along by the jagged, disjointed melodies of Matthew Karas on guitar and keyboards and the highly dynamic rhythm section consisting of Gianluca Galetti on bass and guitar and Ravi Low-Beer on drums.
“Fantods” is not the easiest of listens and neither does it pretend to be. It rewards with repeated plays and seeps into your psyche. The music is there to be evaluated, dissected, investigated. The lyrics are structured for reflection, stabs into humour, and to justify those times when one just needs a good grouch. Lou Reed once asked – “Can you see beauty in ugliness?” – “Fantods” grants us an emphatic “Yes”. I adore this album, and those of a discerning nature should too. LeeMcFadden