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Music Review: Glass Vaults – Glass EP and Into Clear EP [12” Vinyl Editions]

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The New Zealand duo of Richard Larsen and Rowan Pierce are the creative forces behind Glass Vaults. Their name perfectly describes the shimmering form of electronic music they have crafted on the five songs of the Glass EP (2010) and the four on the Into Clear EP (2011).

While both of these EPs are available in digital and streaming formats, I strongly recommend the vinyl editions. Great care has been taken to offer a premium presentation. Each comes with inserts, special label and cover art, and in the case of the Glass EP, one of the most creative uses of colored vinyl I have ever seen.

Glass opens with the slowly evolving ambience of the instrumental “They Will Grow.“ The piece seamlessly segues into “Set Sail,” a exquisitely moody, and introspective blend of vocals and atmospheres. Turn the record over and we embark on another autonomous three-song journey, which again blends together as nearly one. Glass Vaults venture a bit further out with the aptly titled “New Space.” Beneath the deeply hypnotic tones, something of a tribal sound emerges. “Worrier” moves into darker territory, and then we come to “Forget Me Not,” which stayed with me long after the grooves ran out.

The four-song Into Clear was released towards the end of 2011, and blended an even more intoxicating cocktail of sound. “Golden” opens in heaven, or at least a reasonable facsimile of it with the acoustic strums of an angelic guitar. These notes are soon joined by the sparkling ambient environment that Glass Vaults produce so well. Much like side one of Glass, the segue is seamless between the two songs that comprise the first half of this program. “It Looks Like Winter Water” is an 8:30 journey into the center of this glass vault, and is the single most impressive piece of music I have heard from them.

That is not to say that the flip-side of Into Clear is in any way inferior. “Gold Star,” and “Into Clear” blend together in a most satisfying manner. The title track is the closer, and only leaves one wanting more. Call me a “vinyl snob” if you will, but I think that for the extravagant packaging alone, these two EPs are something special. For those unfortunates who are suffering through life without a turntable however, Glass Vault’s label Jukboxr does offer the music in the CD and (gasp!) downloadable formats. I should also note here that their latest single “Crystallise” (which I have yet to hear) is available only as a download from the site, so maybe my “vinyl snobbery” is misplaced.

No matter what delivery system one chooses, both of these EPs offer a marvelously mysterious journey into the inner and outer realms of electronic music. Glass Vaults are something special indeed.

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