The music that the Upstate trio Gláss makes is about pushing boundaries.
On their new album, “Wilting in Mauve,” the band makes dark music that’s not quite goth, heavy music that’s not quite metal, and complex music that’s not quite prog-rock.
On the album’s 12 songs, singer/guitarist Aaron Burke, drummer Sam Goldsmith and bassist Alex Angell dip into eerie, atmospheric drones (“Heavy Fields,” “Boughs”), grinding, guitar-driven noise-rock (“Garters”), haunting, melancholy ballads (“There Was Wisteria”) and thrillingly complex, jazz-tinged epics (“A Tangled East” and the nearly eight-minute “Triage: Étude in Mauve”).
“We wanted to do something different, we wanted to make a great record, and we were pretty conscious of not wanting to limit ourselves.”
It’s an explosion of creative, adventurous music, with Burke’s metallic shards of guitar exploding over Angell’s subterranean bass lines and the propulsive drumming of Sam Goldsmith (son of WYFF-TV news anchor Carol Clarke).
It’s also the first album that Gláss has released in four years, which is perhaps why there’s such a wide stylistic range on display.
“It was kind of a slow, evolving process to get these songs done,” Burke says. “Sam and I listen to all different kinds of music, and though we never really set out to do a versatile record, it just happened organically, just from us sharing different music with each other. We wanted to do something different, we wanted to make a great record, and we were pretty conscious of not wanting to limit ourselves.”
Burke is quick to credit Angell with the album’s reach, as well. “Alex joined the band about a year and a half ago, and he’s just a wealth of knowledge,” Burke says. “He’s one of those guys that, when you think you know a lot about music, you talk to him and you feel like a novice.”
Most of the music on “Wilting in Mauve” was recorded in Columbia at the Jam Room recording studio, with producer/engineer Jay Matheson behind the boards. But when it came time for Burke to sing his imagistic, impressionistic lyrics (“Grain split and ripped, up the floor/Crystals collect, dipping his fingers in the ashes,” for example), he needed a more intimate setting.
“I can’t remember who said it first, but the muse isn’t going to find you. You have to be at your table every day working on it, and the muse will sometimes come.”
“I couldn’t really deliver in the studio,” he says. “So I did a lot of the vocals in my house and sent them to Jay. He was really accommodating and easy to work with. He knows exactly what he’s doing and how to deliver on what we asked for.”
Burke is in the middle of a seriously fertile creative phase after a long dry spell; “Wilting in Mauve” is the second Gláss album to be released this year, and there will be another, more experimental acoustic album called “Soundings in Fathoms & Feet” coming out Nov. 14.
“Inspiration has always been hard for me to put my finger on,” Burke says. “I can’t remember who said it first, but the muse isn’t going to find you. You have to be at your table every day working on it, and the muse will sometimes come. And that’s what it felt like, working on it every day, being really obsessed with the lyrics, and creating my own little world. Having a new band member was really inspiring, too; it added some fresh energy to the whole thing.”
It also helped that Burke moved back to Greenville after a period living in Athens, Georgia, and reconnected with Goldsmith, his longtime musical partner and one of the most talented, intuitive percussionists on the local scene.
“We’ve been playing together for seven or eight years, and it’s always been very easy,” he says. “He’s an amazing drummer; the best drummer I’ve ever played with, for sure. He’s just really good, really easy to work with, and we have this unspoken understanding about how things should be. We keep each other going, I think.”