Andrew Glassett recently spent two months in Japan on tour with Utah’s Uzi & Ari playing what he considers to be “sentimental” music—songs about childhood, about romantic relationships; songs rooted in the past, full of wonderment and awe. Overseas, the talented multi-instrumentalist strengthened friendships, stayed with gracious hosts and even met his match in the form of a 5-foot-tall, sub-100-pound female drummer who hit with such precision and intensity he nearly turned in his kit. (“I felt so inadequate—she used to train with weights on her arms!”).
Glassett left the experience with little sense of nostalgia. He loves his band mates and respects their skills, but ultimately “I don’t feel anything listening to the music.”
Ouch. Glassett doesn’t sugarcoat his opinions. He’s blunt, direct and refreshingly honest—qualities that helped strengthen both his former position as SLUG magazine’s managing editor and as the “odd duck” in a fairly traditional LDS family. Glassett isn’t a radical. He’s actually rather conservative, though he challenges convention and that doesn’t always jibe well with organized religion. As a Mormon missionary, he battled severe depression and sensory deprivation until a sympathetic bishop lifted the standard ban on music. For two years, he listened only to classical music and returned with a new perspective on sound. Growing up, he helped pioneer a punk scene in Jerome, Idaho, but after a steady diet of Beethoven, grew tired of fast, loud rock & roll. “I became obsessed with drum machines,” he says, adding that his passion for electronic music intensified under the strict regime at Brigham Young University. “I’d just put on my headphones and escape.”
The turning point in his aesthetic came when he hit rock bottom. After BYU, he came to Salt Lake City to attend grad school but soon dropped out and realized he had no set purpose in life. It was then that he started applying his studies of audiology, recording a noise album using a no-input mixer to explore high frequencies that cause pain. Though he considers the resulting LP his best work, Glassett has a new state of mind that inspired him to record his most accessible album to date—the type of album that complements rainy-day strolls, its layered rhythms and sampled voices slowly seeping in until your head gently bobs. He recorded the disc at Blake Henderson’s San Francisco studio, playing all of the instruments except a music box, which the head designer of Black Chandelier brought to life.
“It’s kind of my pseudo-attempt at being sentimental,” he says of the collective nine tracks, each dedicated to one of his family members. Sweet, right? Well, not completely. “By doing this album I learned that I don’t really know my family that well—and I’m OK with that.”
He did say pseudo.
“The music I make is so out of their range of understanding,” he says of his family who he admits are supportive nonetheless. Most of them probably won’t be at the show, which might be a good thing considering what Glassett has planned for the performance. He’s hired four actors to act out scenes set to each song, one of which describes his brother discovering he has cancer after getting kneed in the testicles by his future wife. He overcomes the disease, but is “still very unhappy with his life.”
“I actually thought about setting it up as a comedy—having an audience track laughing and clapping,” he says.
Even Glassett has his limits, though, so audience members will instead be treated to a light show courtesy of Colin Stevens, who has coordinated his reactive light system to performances by Vile Blue Shades, among others. Incorporating Stevens, the actors and a videographer into the stage show reflects Glassett’s desire to stretch beyond his comfort zone and pursue collaborations. Right now, he’s looking for a few good hiphop emcees to appear on his next project, which delves into the world of booty house. Big in Chicago, the genre pairs accelerated trance beats with lyrics “sexually charged to the point of ridiculousness.”
“This is not a serious album,” he says. “If you’re going to be the voice of it, you have to understand the humor.”
NOLENS VOLENS CD RELEASE
w/ Lapsed & Nonnon
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Thursday, June 25