Glass House “Headlands”

23 Jan 2015 — Henry Schiller

As Glass House, Ian Collier and Eric Brannon create what they describe as “dynamic chunks of space and melody.”  The notion of music coming in “chunks” really speaks to the heft of the Chicago-based duo’s latest cassette, "Headlands", which is 40 minutes of post-apocalyptic ambience.

On "Headlands", Glass House pull at the tendons of washed out ambience with enough melodic intent to make the cassette sound less like a soundscape and more like a cinematic score. Whether meant to accompany such images or evoke them, "Headlands" seems suited to a wide expanse of desert with a possibly illusory city perpetually on the horizon.

Side A thumps out slowly with a loop of a sound like a ghost knocking on a window in the rain. Side B of "Headlands" is a bit louder, a bit more front-facing, and incorporates some excellent sonic peppering around the 13 minute mark by way of church bells and a string instrument that sounds like a coyote howling. The naturalness of this turn almost had me convinced there was some sort of rich narrative to the whole thing; as if, with the track, I had wandered into some abandoned town and we were about to investigate.

Tim Hecker’s Virgins seems like a probable influence, but so do the kinds of wandering, ponderous scores usually associated with open world video games. Indeed, the experience of "Headlands" is almost like that of playing an RPG. There’s supposed to be a strict narrative – a compelling and wrought out one at that – but you very often delay or dance around it because you’re too busy trying to jump over an invisible wall or talk to an NPC that you’re convinced can trigger the continuation of the plot. Is it a little frustrating? Sure – but it’s where all of the fun is, it’s where the point is. If you wanted everything handed to you you’d have read a book or, similarly, listened to a pop record. This kind of music requires a little more effort on your part.

"Headlands" is out now on Lillerne Tapes - supplies are limited but you can order your copy here.