Since being treated to some early mixes of this record late last year, few albums have piqued my interest in quite the way the new Looking Glass album has since a time before the internet.
To give you some context, the last pre-mastered version I heard of this, I listened to whilst driving through thick fog, on a winding mountain road on my own to the south coast of Australia in the middle of the night. All I had was the album cranked in my car and visibility of about 10 metres. It was 3 tracks shorter and a little dirty in spots, but when I arrived I was overwhelmed at what I heard and what I imagined the end result might sound like once polished. Now it has arrived in its final form, it is entirely fitting that this record take its place among the best ever sustained pieces of creative heavy music making that have come out of Australia.
“Sustained” is a word not used lightly here. It’s a big, ambitious piece of work. Weighing in at twelve tracks, and a running time of fifty seven minutes and thirty four seconds, it’s long. That length doesn’t impose on the quality of the work or dilute the creative chances it takes. The record succeeds at being progressive without any pretentiousness, it’s catchy without sacrificing musicality, it traverses a bunch of heavy music styles without losing focus. On a record that covers so much ground, it gives me a great sense of pride to know that it was entirely written, created and recorded right here in my neighbourhood over a couple of months last year.
For those who’ve come late, Looking Glass are veterans of the Canberra heavy music community. As indicated by the title, this is their fourth foray into a full length and I will make a guilty confession here: The previous 3 records are all among my favourite records produced in the territory, but when I heard they were recording this one locally, my internal reaction was to wince and think to myself “Really, here, in Canberra? You guys NEED to go somewhere else to make this”.
To qualify this thought, if you have seen this band live, it’s clear that there is a gulf between their talent and ability and the production of their previous records. III was my album of the year in the (Canberra Magazine) BMA a few years back when it came out and while it contains some absolutely sterling song writing and demonstrated the best sound on a record they’d pulled off to date, it didn’t quite capture the balance in what was on wax living up to their potential for me.
It’s a high bar in their circumstance, I count all three guys as benchmark players in their respective disciplines.
Unequivocally, my wincey face and thoughts were utterly decimated by the band and Tim Duck at Infidel Studios in Queanbeyan with this record. It sounds fan-tastic. I feel that the three piece of Marcus De Pasquale (guitar/vocals) and brothers Lachlan (bass/vocals) and Clinton Paine (drums) has been perfectly captured as a band, with their best performances on any record to date and done justice by Tim’s work behind the desk. If there’s a better advertisement for recording in the region, I’m yet to hear it.
Song wise it took me half a dozen listens to be able to comprehend this. That’s not a knock on the record’s accessibility, it’s just their scope is so much wider than so many bands that occupy the stoner doom genre that there was a lot to take in. Songs that didn’t gel for me straight away have become essential favourites as the production revealed more layers with repeat listens. While at their core they are a 3 piece heavy rock band, there are acoustic interludes with aching beauty, detours of psychedelic feedback and mental anguish that scrape on your psyche reminding me of EXP from Axis Bold as Love, and moments of pure Led Zeppelin clavinet joy that nearly melted my brain the first time it popped into the bridge of album opener Before I Hang. In a genre full of tired tropes, fresh ideas are embraced and explored with refreshing fearlessness.
Don’t let me infer that the all influences and reference points at play are exclusively classic heavy rock, there are entirely contemporary ideas and more recent inspiration on display; Second Winter is a short banger that has some tones and atmosphere that feel fresh but pleasingly homely and familiar.
This record track by track evidences a band that is at the absolute peak of its creative power and distilling it into killer song writing.
I can’t express how excited I am for all to share in this album, because you will be talking about it for a long time to come once hooked. Brilliant.
Volume 4 is out now on Goatsound