Glacis: 22.16.04
Soft Corridor Records

The second EP from Belgian micro-label Soft Corridor Records is by Edinburgh-based musician Euan McMeeken, who issues solo piano compositions under the name Glacis and who recently released Music for the Animation Tohu Va Vohu on the mini50 imprint; expect to see him surface again in early 2013 when Lost Tribe Sound releases the debut album Our Sound is Our Wound by Graveyard Tapes (McMeeken constitutes one-half of the group) and a collaboration with London-based drone artist Ed Hamilton, The World is a Little Lonelier Without You, will also see the light of day.

The somewhat cryptically titled 22.16.04 attempts to explore the tension between acoustic instruments and technology, and there's no denying that said tension emerges within the EP's four settings, two of them written and performed by McMeeken and Matthew Collings and the other two by McMeeken and Hamilton. Throughout the twenty-three-minute release, the piano is embedded within electronic soundscapes, such that during “Slow Morning,” for example, the gentle piano statements are contrasted by the rough-edged noises of the accompanying textures. The other Collings setting, “May This Night Never See Morning,” is less abrasive, even though the balance between piano and textures is again evenly split.

The first setting with Hamilton, the melancholy “Words Held Back Create a Restlessness” at first immerses the piano within a shimmering bath of drone-like fluidity, the piano's notes stretched into liquidy form until delicate, acoustic guitar-like plucks establish a mood of soothing placidity. The EP's eleven-minute closing meditation, “In Dawns Mouth Lives the Pulsing Remains of Hope” (sic), is memorable but not simply because it's the longest. It's also the one where McMeeken's piano playing presents itself most affectingly, its sparse and pretty lines complemented by a steady flutter of harmonium-like dronescaping that grows progressively more dominant and aggressive as the piece unfolds. It's also the piece that makes the most powerful impression on the listener, in no small part due to the multiple changes the piece goes through. In its juxtaposition of acoustic piano and electronic treatments, 22.16.04 puts some degree of distance between itself and other electroacoustic releases, which bodes well for whatever future life McMeeken has in mind for the Glacis project.

January 2013