Resurfacing after four years of almost incessant touring with a new record is a thing that most musicians would view with at least a small measure of trepidation. Doing this then after starting other, similarly well-received musical projects as well would be something that many would balk at, and simply refuse to do. Yet Glissando, who's critically acclaimed and nigh-on unanimously well-received previous record 'With Our Arms Wide Open We March Towards the Burning Sea' was released four long years ago, have emerged anew (although again on Gizeh Records) with Novemberʼs 'The World Without Us'.
Whilst the material contained within 'The World Without Us' is not all new - compositions such as 'The Long Lost' and 'Of Silence' not only appeared in different guises on a limited-pressed double A-side single several years ago, but have in fact been re-imagined live countless times in the ever-mutating live setups that have constituted Glissando's membership over the past four years - it is in no way worn out, nor is the record simply a thrown-together collection of compositions that have been in the group's repertoire previously, but that have never made it onto a formal release. 'The World Without Us' is a complete re-think of old material to such an extent that one can only class the output of the now seven-strong Glissando as entirely original; for although the original pairing of Elly May Irving and Richard Knox create an unmistakable sonic footprint on the release, the sounds have become more orchestral and dynamic, showing not only a furthering of Irving and Knox's skills as musicians over the years, but also their ability to adapt, and create records that refuse to slip into the ruts carved out by previous releases.
However, the best aspect of this release is the completely organic way in which Glissando's sound seems to have undergone a sonic evolution. Opener 'Still I' beings with the found sounds, wafer-thin drones and soft piano arpeggios that one would expect from previous releases. That this then builds and builds ever-higher into a swelling, throbbing mass of sound over a very short period (a mere two minutes) is impressive enough in a genre almost designed for hesitant instrumental changes - that this mass then gels almost imperceptibly with what one knows of Glissando's previous releases and in fact improves upon this old sound is naught more than evidence of the unfettered musicianship on the part of all involved in this release.
As such, it would appear that the four years between such concrete musical statements as releasing a record has only served Glissando well. The larger-scale mindset of Knox's other group A-Sun Amissa, as well as the fact that Knox himself pre-mixed the record in his own Cloud Blunt Moon studio has broadened the group's musical horizons, and taken them beyond what they used to be - inhabitants of the same entirely intimate world as Motion Sickness of Time Travel (Rachel Evans) and Grouper (Liz Harris) - to become a group capable of grand musical gestures, yet allowed them to retain the intimacy that is so utterly fundamental to their music. This record is evidence of a group ever in flux and refusing to stagnate - their next release is eagerly awaited.
Released 5th November on Gizeh Records - http://www.gizehrecords.com/gzh40.html
Review by Max Hampshire