On 2 April 2014, our friends Glasfrosh headlined at Bar Open.
If you need it in two words, these will cover it for you: Fruity. And Psychedelic.
These three gentlemen weave a strange tapestry of sound. Headed by psychedelic extremist Justin Ashworth, the band combine vocals, guitar, piano and drums with otherworldly textures created by synths, vocoders and samples. The songs themselves – if you can call them songs – are extended jam-like journeys. Much like a mystery flight, you’ll never know where they’ll take you.
And they’ll take you some bizarre places.
Visually, the set was spectacular. Backed by two walls of projected visuals, the band seemed to change shape and colour from moment to moment. For most of the set, the projections consisted of constantly shifting impressions. Occasionally the shapes formed themselves into something almost recognisable, but then quickly dissolved back into their glorious soup. It was certainly more Pollock than Picasso.
The alien hues of the projection were matched by Justin’s hat that was of indeterminate colour – even under neutral lights. It seemed to reflect and distort everything around it. Adam’s fedora and suit jacket added a surreal film noir element, as if the 1940s time travelled into the 1970s. James’ enormous boxy red headphones completed the sci-fi angle.
It sounded as adventurous as it looked. Jazz piano collided with sequenced synths, overdriven guitar, robotic vocoders and heartfelt singing. The music sprawled across abstract sound-art, contemplative piano chords, free drumming and even some almost song-like sections. Like the visuals, the music flirted in the space between the recognisable and the unrecognisable. This was not music to dance or seduce to. This was music for exploration, expansion and reflection. Synthetic textures interwove themselves with more traditional electric and acoustic sounds. It was not often clear which band member was making which sound. Rather than interact with the music cerebrally or physically, audience members were invited to use the music (and visuals) as a pathway toward their own thoughts and imaginations.
Despite such a wide range of sounds and styles being thrown into the cauldron, the music had a strong coherence. The band clearly understood what they were doing and successfully created a definable sound. The overall characteristic was light and playful. Even during the strongest climaxes, the music never felt heavy or overbearing. It was the musical equivalent of a strange fruity cocktail – you’re never quite what’s actually in it and how it’s going to hit you, but you’ll have fun guessing. And best of all, you’ll feel great (if a little odd) the next morning.
There’s a very real sense that Glasfroch will never give up their secrets. Not for want of trying, of course, but because the ingredients are complex and combine in unpredictable ways. They know what they’re doing but the art is dark and relies as much on magic and intuition as it does on formulas and structures.
Glasfroch are a surprising, amazing delicious treat for your mind.
Follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/glasfrosch
Listen to their recent album ‘Aubedes’: http://glasfrosch.bandcamp.com/album/aubades
Photos by Obsessive Music