The biggest problem with synthesizers is that they’re not so good at communicating emotion1. Most traditional instruments (whether it be stringed, brass, or percussion) can easily convey sadness, happiness, or loneliness at the ready, but because synthesizers by their very nature do not have a natural, empathetic sound: they’re harder to relate to. But what if you wanted your music to sound cold and personless?
Glasser’s second album, Interiors does just that – it incorporates synthesizers and drum machines to achieve something that sounds less like music and more like architecture. Anyone who tuned into Glasser’s (stage name for Cameron Mesirow) debut album, Ring, will already be familiar with this formalist artist: she’s not an overly emotive musician, but she’s got a great set of pipes, and a good ear for new, intriguing sounds. There’s a bit of a difference between Ring and its follow-up Interiors, though. For one, most of the tribal influences that underlined Ring have been replaced with cold synths and drum machines. The other is that Mesirow sounds more confident this time around, and it’s reflected not only in the texture of her arrangements, but in the tone of her voice. Her voice is full, but soft. She has great control over it while she navigates some of Interiors tricky terrain.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Interiors is how seductive it is. Mesirow’s voice is one of the only constants on the album, and she lets the music behind her shift, melt, and wrap around the vocal tracks. This may be best embodied with the second track, “Design”. Hand claps, deep inhales, triplet-synthesizer notes, and diving bass all make up the music behind Mesirow, but she sings as if the backing track is a (mostly) ordinary song. Most of the other tracks on Interiors follow a similar formula: the musical landscape is ambiguous and amorphous2, and Glasser’s vocals rarely rise above her melancholic, provocative croon. The more experimental tracks are reserved for the instrumentals: a three-part suite titled “Windows”3.
Mesirow’s music and delivery isn’t so far removed that it’s peerless though; her closest musical relatives would likely be Bats For Lashes, Zola Jesus, and Grimes at times. However, Glasser is doing things on Interiors that I haven’t seen any other artist do: you can study this album and pick apart the sounds, or you can just sit back and let it draw you in. For an experimental record, it’s surprisingly accessible, or, perhaps maybe I should rephrase that as: for an pop record, it’s surprisingly experimental. At its worst, Interiors is too far removed from Mesirow’s natural sound that the music is just too cold or too alien. Overall, it’s a better album than her impressive Ring, and where she’ll go from here – well, that’s anyone’s guess at this point.