Daniel Menche: Glass Forest

Surprisingly, this latest addition to the voluminous Menche discography offers an eminently accessible entry point to the producer's sometimes harrowing universe. Glass Forest, whose three long, connecting sections total sixty-eight minutes, is also purportedly the last CD he'll release, with subsequent music set to appear in LP form or on DVD to accompany film-work. The opening track's monolithic drone is dominated by clattering percussion that careens like a phalanx of speeding locomotives. Though the attack is relentless and unflinching, it's not painful; it does escalate, yes, and it is fierce but it also stabilizes at a tolerable pitch and then essentially stays put. Imagine, if you will, a microphone placed next to train tracks and the recorded clatter looped and phase-shifted until the thrumming patterns resemble the amplified blur of galloping horses. The second section begins quietly but gradually swells to immense proportions, as if resulting from the microphone inching steadily closer to the train tracks. The degree of percussive activity intensifies until the violent clatter appears ready to combust, but then it slowly subsides, leaving glassy electrical tones in its wake. The final section is a semi-controlled thunderstorm that sounds as if Menche amplified dancing bingo balls a hundredfold and then wrapped the results in organ tones that twinkle so brightly they could pass for harpsichords. Glass Forest proves to be an arresting and, in some perverse way, an oddly musical listening experience; most strikingly, Menche manages all that without betraying his uncompromising vision. Think of it, perhaps, as a rare glimpse into Menche's slightly more "bucolic" side.

April 2008