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

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Five-O-One AM - 21st Century Dream – Somewhere between Marillion (Season's End) and the SI label bands Lies Five-O-One AM. That is, song oriented pop with elements of prog. Combine that with WMMS's reputation and Five-O-One AM...  (1999) » Read more

Secret Oyster - Vidunderlige Kælling – While listening to this album, I find myself often comparing it to Camel’s Snow Goose. For one thing, there is a certain stylistic similarity, as they are both keyboard-centric instrumental rock...  (2006) » Read more

Dead Can Dance - Toward the Within – Toward the Within is a live disk that documents DCD's 1993 tour, ostensibly in support of their latest studio release, Into the Labyrinth. However, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard slip their fans a...  (1995) » Read more

Brand X - The X-Files: A 20 Year Retrospective – The first four Brand X albums set a standard for fusion that still exists more than 20 years later. Unfortunately many of the albums that followed didn’t measure up to the band’s...  (2000) » Read more

Art of Infinity - Dimension Universe – It’s the Thorsten and Thorsten show! These two Dutchmen are staking out a claim to musical territory already paved by folks like Art of Noise and Enigma, but they still do a nice job with the...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues