Exposé Online banner

Glass Hammer — Perelandra
(Arion no#, 1995, CD)

by Jeff Melton, 1996-08-01:

Perelandra Cover art

My first impressions of the album were that the music is a trite retread of the same standard progressive ideas, just performed by a different set of enthusiastic fans using weakly written material. After the third listening, I did find a few tracks which don't meet this simplistic viewpoint. The title track, (with intro) "Now Arriving/Time Marches On" is probably the best on the disk except for possibly the title track. It contains a memorable, circular keyboard/ guitar hook which is the core of the song as well as some amusing sound effects which are more of a distraction than adding to the intended dramatic flare. "Into the Night" is kind of a creepy number with an intro of a mysterious, occult voice searching for a woman in dire distress. This project is the collaboration of two keyboardists, Stephen DeArqe and Fred Schendel. Arrangements I'd classify as 'light symphonic.' The organ playing is trademark Emerson at times, orchestral at others. Randy Burt adds a notable sax outro as a swirling, echo-ey ending to "The Last Danse" which is the atypical piece on this disc. Glass Hammer influences are easily obvious in the Yes vocal style arrangements, but also with a female backing voice (e.g. Pink Floyd's "Great Gig in the Sky"). I'm not certain who the lead vocalists are; the keyboardists or guitarist may trade off on different tracks. The male voices are pleasant, but not very forceful that could have added more presence to the finished product. Guitar player Walter Moore is mostly in a supportive role playing melody lines as a counterpoint to the lead keyboards. He doesn't really get to step out much since the compositions don't call for it. Not a bad disk, really.


by Mike McLatchey, 1996-08-01:

It's terribly sad to me that many people's impression of "progressive rock" goes no farther than Yes, Genesis, or their countless soundalikes. I don't want to be too hard on that style of symphonic rock, as many of them are artistically honest, lovingly crafted and well produced. It's just that the constant rehashing of specific stylistic elements of this niche, such as Yes like vocal harmonies, cliché ridden choruses, and instrumentalists virtually in the same style as a major influence, are going beyond trite. To keep this in perspective, it must be said that many people are introduced to the nebulous progressive genre through the more mainstream examples of the style. I mean you just don't go from Tears for Fears to Magma without something to warm you up. So on one hand, music like Glass Hammer is going to seem quite mundane to those whose musical breadth extends in the direction of the weird and wild, on the other hand, it acts as an ideal entry way for those not that familiar with progressive music's greater scope. Yes fans are going to love this, as it wears their influence like a fluorescent tie-dye. For instance, check out the last track "Heaven" with the Rick Wakeman-esque organ lines that are far too close to "Awaken" to be merely coincidence. Those that flipped over Echolyn, Spock's Beard or Ritual are probably going to love this — it's got the same sort of feel and sound.


by Mike Grimes, 1996-08-01:

If you're looking for a good keyboard album, then look no further. Glass Hammer has lots to offer in that department. There are some great keyboard parts on Perelandra and the keyboards are most certainly the main attraction throughout this recording. Stephen DeArqe and Fred Schendel share both the keyboard and songwriting duties, co-writing all 12 tracks together. Although the band uses a drum machine for the album, it's thoughtfully programmed and back appropriately in the mix so that it doesn't stand out in any bad way. The band achieves a very individual sound using so many keyboards, not really sounding too much like anyone else, except for "Heaven" sounding like Yes' "Awaken" in spots. The music ranges from mellow — like the intro to the title track, one of my favorite parts — to hard 'n' heavy. There is a lack of other instruments besides keyboards — the previously mentioned drums (or lack thereof) and especially guitar. And they even have a real guitar player! While there are tons of cool keyboard parts, there are essentially no equivalent lead guitar solo spots. More guitar would have balanced the album out nicely. The other main gripe is with the vocals, which are hit or miss. Too many different people sing lead parts, some of whom should maybe stick to background vocals. The band's sole female lead vocalist, Michelle Young, sounds great, but is under-utilized. She should be singing way more than she is. Other than these minor complaints, the album is pretty strong. Fans of other dual keyboard outfits like Triggering Myth and Happy the Man should dig Glass Hammer.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 10 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Glass Hammer, Michelle Young

More info

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music festival world, and music festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Hook - Hooked – One of the best parts of picking up modern reissues of obscurities from the 60s is that so many of them have interesting liner notes detailing the near-misses and might-have-beens of that distant...  (2005) » Read more

Billy Currie - Stand up and Walk – The second solo album by violinist and composer Billy Currie (ex Ultravox, Visage) traces a narrow path down a lush musical side road. Having completed his tenure with those bands, moving into a...  (2002) » Read more

Claudia Quintet - For – For their fourth release, John Hollenbeck and company have produced yet another engaging disc of Euro-folk chamber jazz, for lack of a better quick descriptive for their unique and identifiable style....  (2008) » Read more

Ozone Player - Frozen Paint on Boiling Canvas – What an opener for an album! I’m talking about “The Sprawl.” Fine sounds, imaginative sequencing, nimble-fingered playing, stunning composition. Ozone Player is a composer from...  (2006) » Read more

Finisterre - Finisterre – Finisterre is another debut from the country with more bands than fans. While many of Italy's newer outfits fall squarely in mediocrity, Finisterre looks like one of the brighter spots. The band...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover

Heatwarmer new album out



Print issues