Through the Looking Glass
A Review of Illuminations, the New Album by Glass and an Interview with the Band Members

By Jeff Fitzgerald
Photos courtesy of Glass

From Aural Innovations #31 (June 2005)

When I last interviewed California based progressive rock group Glass in 2002, it was not that long after they had reformed after a 23-year hiatus that saw the band members lives take different directions (you can read that interview here). Well, three years later, a lot more has happened. There's been a lot more live shows. The band's archival album, No Stranger to the Skies was reissued on the excellent Musea label, and most significantly, a brand new studio album of all new music called Illuminations is about to be released. I've had a chance to listen to the new album and I caught up with Jeff and Greg Sherman, as well as the band's drummer Jerry Cook to talk about the it via e-mail. First, let's review the new Glass album, and then we'll dig into the details with Greg, Jeff and Jerry, and uncover the fascinating stories behind what went into the making of Illuminations.

Glass - "Illuminations" (Musea Records 2005, FGBG 4594.AR)

From the opening hits of the rhythm section to the sweep of Mellotron chords leading into the lush Hammond organ of Overture, you'll be expecting some great progressive rock in the classic sense of the phrase on Glass's first studio album in 2 ˝ decades. But Glass is definitely not a band who will just play the expected. The certainly deliver on the classic progressive rock angle, but Illuminations is also full of surprises you wouldn't expect.

Besides the opening Overture and two closing pieces, the rest of the album is divided into three sets, each representing a different aspect of the band members and their approach to music. Though don't get me wrong. This isn't about dividing the album into solo sections. Each member contributes to the writing and performing on every set. Illuminations manages the difficult undertaking of finding a perfect balance between a cohesive group effort and allowing each band member's personality to shine through as well.

It's in the opening set that we get our first taste of the unexpected. The Secret Life of Aqua J. Long is beautifully cinematic in nature, from the mysterious urgency behind Astral Transascension, which is the perfect introduction to the more experimental sound of the second and third parts. As always, Glass transcends the definition of what rock music is. You'd be hard pressed to really call the spacey Isle of Dyslexia and the primal mystery of Medicine Man rock music, yet it works as part of the whole on a rock album. Soft Machine's Hugh Hopper adds some terrific fuzz bass to Isle of Dyslexia's weird backwards rhythms, and drummer Jerry Cook gives a tour de force performance on his improvised drum track Medicine Man. This isn't just a prog rock drum solo, this is deep, exploratory percussive music, punctuated by Cook's intriguing poetic ruminations.

The first track of the Electronic Synaethesia set begins in a similar way to the beginning of the Secret Life set, appegiating keyboards that build through strange keyboard effects, finally evolving into a electronic sequence that forms the backbone of a jazzy romp with curious sounds that fade in and out, and pan back and forth through the mix. Glass once again proves that they are explorers in sound. Rather than focusing on complex arrangements or dazzling technique (though they do exhibit both), the focus here is on creating unique and emotionally defining soundscapes that are expressive of the themes within their music. The final piece of the Electronic Synaethesia set, My Tantric Gatito, is a bass solo by Jeff Sherman, utilizing a unique, finger picking style something like Spanish guitar, accompanied by strange warped sound samples of moaning voices and shimmering chime-like sounds.

The final set, Alchemy of the Word, is the most purely traditional progressive rock oriented of the three sets, and it's a lovely contrast, especially after Jeff's remarkable bass investigations on the previous track. The same kind of melodic compositional beauty Greg Sherman displayed on his solo piano album Zutique comes through here, but is complimented now by the Greg and Jerry's rhythm playing, and this time we get the full range of sparkling piano, lush Hammond organ, and deep and mysterious Mellotron. You couldn't ask for a more beautifully classic piece of progressive rock than you get in the first 9-minute 4 part composition that kicks off this set. And it's followed by two more pieces to finish off the set, the funky Delirium, which utilizes numerous voice samples to create an intriguing feel, almost disorienting feel; and the brief but beautiful and majestic piano piece, Eternity.

And just when you think it's over, there's still more to come. The album closes with two dramatically different tracks. Slightly Behind All the Time is a more up tempo rocker, with some great synth soloing from Greg, and Jeff setting the bass aside to join his brother on keyboards (Fender Rhodes) for a brief foray into the Glass sound of old. The final extraordinary track features Canterbury alumni Phil Miller on electric guitar and Richard Sinclair doing vocal improvisations. Gaia, just like its namesake, is a powerful, moving, experimental, organic creation unlike anything else on the rest of the album, and will leave listeners at the end with their mouths hanging open.

This is and it isn't the same Glass that recorded No Stranger to the Skies a quarter of a century ago. The same chemistry exists between the members, but there is more of a sense of relaxed enthusiasm, three musicians simply enjoying creating and playing together, rather than the relentless drive of youth that fuelled the early recordings. The same magic exists, but this time it's tempered by age and wisdom, which actually gives the music a more thoughtful and emotional depth. With Illuminations, Glass proves that even after a 25-year absence from the studio, they are still a creative and vital force worth reckoning with on the progressive rock scene. Here's hoping we continue to hear much more from them in the future.

Via e-mail, I got a chance to talk to all three band members about the stories and ideas behind the making of Illuminations. Here's what they had to say.

AI: How did it feel to be back in the studio with the whole band after all these years?

Greg Sherman (GS): Greg: It felt good…but not that out of the ordinary from what we had been doing all along. Glass has been rehearsing for going on five years now, and we rehearse in studios sometimes, so it wasn't that different from that. Plus, Jeff and I have been in and out of studios quite a bit in the last fifteen years with other projects.

Jeff Sherman (JS): It was also a bit strange. We had of course rehearsed; quite a bit actually, for the various festivals we've played since our reunion concert in 2001. But the time spent there was time working out how we were going to play our older material. Working on new song ideas was a different thing. When we first got back together again in 2001 to rehearse for the reunion gig we did jam a bit. Just to get used to playing with each other again. That was a lot of fun. When we first formed Glass in late 1969, jamming was an integral part of our group writing and arranging process. One person would bring a certain chord pattern or riff in an odd meter to practice and we would put it through the Glass meat grinder. If it survived a rehearsal or two, it was then usually incorporated into an arrangement we were working on at that time. So it was natural for us to start again with jamming. But jamming on a musical lick does not a great song or arrangement make. Thank God Greg and I had some real material worked out ahead of time. It is on the strength of those actual compositions; the backbone of what would eventually become "Illuminations", that we built this album.

Jerry Cook (JC): I never stopped playing in my head; only the endurance part was difficult. I always kept in the studio through the years, part owner of where we recorded and produced two music festivals, which I will be releasing CD's of.

AI: When you first got the band back together, was a new album part of the discussion back then, or has it been something that has evolved over the past few years?

JS: We wanted to see if we could even play together first off! So, no we didn't actually sit around after rehearsals and plan doing a new CD. But I would guess each of us had it in the back of his head, especially as rehearsals proceeded. You know, getting back together for me personally has been a little like dating someone you broke up with decades earlier. There are all kinds of questions. Thoughts about how things will be. What things will be easier, what better, and what things won't work. Everyone changes. Whether they want to or are aware of it. I think what has made this work is the growth each of us has done in the intervening years. We had all come to realize there was something very special about our chemistry. Something that hadn't existed in other musical and creative projects we had been involved with since Glass. Also, if only by virtue of the fact that we have known each other since our teens, we were able to appreciate just how lucky we are. We were all relatively healthy; no one had lost any more limbs no one had any de-habilitating thing happen to him. Not everyone gets to live their childhoods greatest dream again, mid-life.

GS: First of all, the Next album is always in the back of everyone's mind. Glass has always been about doing new songs. We've never gone through the experience of having 'hits', and therefore, have never gone through having to perform songs due to popular demand, we were always free to do anything we wanted to do on stage. "Illuminations" is actually the third attempt to put something together in the way of recording new material since the reunion. When we played at BajaProg 2002, we played new material. At Progman Cometh 2002 in Seattle, we expanded on that to where half of our set was new material. Originally, there was going to be a live CD from that gig, but it never materialized. Around that time, we started on a concept album called "Europa", about the history of Europe. After writing and rehearsing material for that, it was tabled, after we realized how ambitious it was. "Illuminations" was conceived in a get-together over Memorial Day 2004. Most of the material for it was already written by then.

AI: Did you set out with any general ideas or concepts of what you wanted to accomplish with this album? If so, what?

GS: As I said, we got together during Memorial Day weekend in 2004 and laid out the foundation for the CD. By then, the band was going in a new direction. Jeff wanted to concentrate on playing bass guitar on the new recordings, instead of Fender-Rhodes piano with bass pedals. Also, we wanted to get back to an earlier sound, one using more analog instruments, such as Hammond organ, and less sequencers.

JS: Well, like Greg mentioned, my only thought was that I'd like to get back to playing bass more, though I did end up playing a little Rhodes and pedals. We had been working on several different ideas for sets during rehearsals of the older material. It was natural for new musical ideas to come up and be worked on if only to provide a break from working on nothing but older songs. At these times it was also natural for us to start loosely organizing these newer song ideas into arrangements. Greg brought a wealth of new material to the band after our last series of gigs. These he had organized into a first-draft of a loose concept he had about the nature of dreaming. There were other concepts that precluded "Illuminations" as well. As Greg mentioned, one of these concepts we worked on before "Illuminations" was a musical suite entitled "Europa". This set of songs would be our musical interpretation of ideas Greg and I were inspired by Jarrod Diamond's great book "Guns, Germs and Steel". In the book Diamond chronicles the rise and fall of various cultures and societies on the European Continent. This interested me personally because Europeans are the great-ancestors of American Civilization. Their art, their worldview and their beliefs are the seeds of all our Eurocentric thinking here. And the reasons behind why one culture survived and another perished. The reasons are quite interesting and not what you might expect at first. "Europa" is still on the slate and may well see realization in the next Glass CD.

AI: Were the songs written specifically for this album or have these been in the works over the years? Are any of the songs leftovers from the earlier Glass period?

GS: All the songs are new songs except one. Some of them were written specifically for "Illuminations", such as the "Alchemy of the Word" set and "Slightly Behind All The Time". For some reason, which I have yet to totally figure out, I write in flurries. I start writing one day, and write a lot of material in a short period of time. Then it stops for awhile. What I have as work product is all sorts of songs, not all of them suitable for Glass. Then I record them all and send them to Jeff and Jerry to sift through. Jeff and I have a web page we post MP3 files to that all three of us can go to and click on a title and hear it. How many of those the band ends up doing depends on the direction the band is going.

JS: Well as I've mentioned Greg had a "block" of material, some of which we started working on during the rehearsals for Progman Cometh 2002. Most of it though was new. I had some tracks that I had been working on for the last couple years, some of which were songs that didn't get used on my solo CD's. We did have the one song "Falling" that was written years ago and used by Glass onstage in 1975. I had always loved this song's melody and suggested to Greg we resurrect it for this recording. It was one of his songs and seemed to fit perfectly into his set in Illuminations entitled "Alchemy of the Word". One of the tunes "Slightly Behind All The Time" is a shameless ode to our longtime heroes, Soft Machine. The title was one of Jerry's brilliant little play on words.

AI: What aspects of playing/band/recording technology have you brought from the old days and what is new to Glass now?

GS: After delving into digital for a while, we decided to go back to more analog sounds. Not simpler songwriting, but older instrumentation, with analog sound sources, such as the Hammond organ - instrumentation we used to use back in the '70s. On the other hand, as far as recording technology, nothing has survived. The new digital recording techniques, with recording to hard disk instead of tape, using software such as ProTools, have totally re-invented the art of recording. In the old days of recording, we used to record a take of a long song and then go into the booth to listen to it. If it was good enough to keep, we went on to the next song. If not, we would rewind the tape and record another take. This was because we couldn't afford reel after reel of two-inch tape. Now, we simply leave the "tape rolling", which is just the computer now, and record as many takes of the songs as we feel like doing. We don't even listen to the takes immediately. Digital editing has taken recording to a whole new level, also. If the band did a great take of a song, but someone clammed one note, you can fix it easier now than before. It also adds a dimension that was never possible before - the idea of the studio itself being an instrument. It becomes an integral instrument in the creation of the music, not just an objective observer.

One more aspect has changed over the years, though. When we were younger, we were more obsessed with getting the takes perfect. So obsessed, that we would do take after take for hours. Now that we are wiser, we are migrating to the "one take' principal…that you should nail it in one take, or else. Just do it, you know what I mean? Like Dylan did in the "Highway 61" phase. It can drive some musicians insane. When you look at everything in context, that's really what it's all about. A lot of the songs on "Illuminations" where done in one take…"Slightly Behind All The Time", "Gaia", "Falling", "Delirium" were all done in one take live, plus overdubs.

JS: I've been the most "low-tech" member of Glass since our reunion. Both Greg and I had continued writing and recording during the long hiatus since Glass broke up in 1978. We were familiar with the new world of digital recording and the incredible possibilities it opened up. Glass was always a band that was driven creatively by the latest technological innovations in instruments and recording. So it was only natural that Greg, Jerry and I use the new technologies of the studio today to our advantage. We were helped a lot by the talents of the engineers we worked with, specifically Jeff Evans at Zircon-Skye in Ojai. He opened a lot of doors for us and allowed Greg and I to realize concepts we heard in our heads that were difficult to explain sometimes. He really co-produced the mixing sessions.

AI: Related to that, what instruments are you playing these days? What vintage instruments are you still using? What new instruments have you added to your lineup?

GS: I don't really have a standard set of keyboards anymore. They are constantly evolving and changing. The vintage keyboards I use now are a Hammond BV with percussion added, and a Mellotron Mark V. It's actually a new Mellotron, but the technology is the same as the old ones, only improved. It's that classic Mellotron sound. I have a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 now also. One keyboard I use that could be called vintage, although it's a digital keyboard, is the Korg 01/W. The Korg 01/W was used extensively on "Illuminations" for anything from a harp sound to a distorted guitar to a choir. The band actually has three 01/Ws onstage. In the studio, I used a Yamaha grand piano. For live dates, I'll be using a Roland A-90 for the piano sounds and as the master MIDI controller. One new sound I'm experimenting with uses an ARP Odyssey through a Marshall amp turned up extremely loud for that "bee-in-a-box" sound, ala Mike Ratledge.

JS: I still prefer to use my instruments from 1975, with the exception of my Korg O1W workstation. I use that as the sound source for the StudioLogic Bass Pedals I play on some tracks. I still play my 1971 Fender-Rhodes piano too as I prefer its analog sound and the action of the keyboard. I do use the signal out of the Rhodes into a newer pre-amp setup to add the tube warmth and the wonderful analog noise. And of course I still use my 1974 Alembic bass to record thanks to some very fortunate turn of events. My latest piece of hi-tech gear would have to be my Korg KP2 Controller Pad. I haven't had a chance to use it in Glass yet but I'm looking forward to it. In addition to the Fender-Rhodes, Alembic Bass and O1W, my current setup also includes my 1966 Martin D18 acoustic guitar and a custom made Thorn Inlay reproduction of a 1952 Fender Precision Bass using all stock fender parts. Ron Thorn, the man responsible for helping me keep my instruments healthy, is a luthier who is also a good friend of mine from when I first moved to Southern California. He is a true master craftsman and an unbelievably good visual designer. He is one of the people responsible for helping me get my 1974 Alembic bass in top shape for recording "Illuminations". Also instrumental were the great people at Alembic, Ron Wickersham in particular. Ron is an original Alembic co-founder and electronics design genius who personally worked on the electronics of my Alembic. Ron was the man who built the electronics for my bass in 1974 - what a trip down memory lane that must have been for him!

AI: Jeff, I heard you have a very interesting story about the bass guitar you use on this album. Tell me about that.

JS: Well it's an interesting anecdote. I recently acquired my 1974 Alembic Small Standard bass back from my old and very dear friend Mark Hawley. I had sold it to Mark back in 1978 when I was busy pursuing a singer-songwriter career. When Glass reunited in 2001, I thought it would be perfect - sort of a total completion of everything - if I could locate that bass, so I contacted Mark and luckily for me he had kept it all these years. I knew he had gone on to become a doctor and only played around with music for fun, but I still didn't know how he would react to an offer to buy it back, Low and behold to my astonishment, not only did he still have it, but it was in near mint condition having spent most of the two past decades IN HIS BEDROOM CLOSET! It speaks volumes about our friendship that he consented to sell it back to me. It was nearly in the exact same condition as when he had bought it from me, with of course the exception that time had caused a few problems with the necks alignment, and that it needed a fret job too. In fact he'd only played out with it three times in all that time!

AI: Jerry, I know Greg and Jeff remained involved in music over the years, but you had not really been that involved, from what Jeff has told me. What was it like for you, getting back behind the drum kit again and playing with your old band mates?

JC: For me, it was really like we had never been apart. We all have stayed in touch over the years. And they do come up to Seattle several times a year to visit family. The playing part was different - we're all older so we have had to learn to conserve energy and use it wisely when it comes to rehearsal and recording. The weirdest thing for me was watching Jeff and Greg go back to playing rock covers in tavern bands after Glass broke up in the late 70's. I was like "what is this?" I can see now though that it was all part of their process of growth.

AI: I know the Canterbury sound was always an influence, but I hear it even more on some of your recent material. What do you attribute this to?

GS: Two things. First, meeting some of them and playing with them at the Progman Cometh concerts in Seattle in 2002 and 2003 energized all of us in that direction. I spent some time with Richard Sinclair and we have since become good friends. Richard is a true genius. His talent is amazing. We spent a week with him at a beach house in Ventura, learning all the old Caravan songs (for BajaProg 2003). Second, there was a conscious attempt to get back to music that showcases what we do well, which is not surprisingly, the Canterbury-influenced music. It goes back to the inception of Glass after seeing Soft Machine in '69.

JS: Speaking for myself, I don't really see that but perhaps it's true. One of the great things about having other people listen to your music is the fresh perspective they bring to what you've done. Myself, I see this collection of songs as amongst some of our most varied, stylistically speaking. The exception, of course, is the song "Slightly Behind all The Time", which really is nothing but a vehicle for Greg's soloing. It came about because we had nearly finished the writing and recording of the album and we realized that there were hardly any up-tempo songs on the CD; lots of mid-tempos and a couple of slower things but nothing that really ripped along. I went home one night and wrote the backbone of the song. Greg developed it a bit musically, and all three of us played around with the arrangement until we liked it.

AI: In the early recordings, you focused less on solos (with the exception of Greg's superb synth work), but on this album, every player gets at least one bit to shine in a solo context. What prompted this direction?

JS: It came about very naturally, really. For one thing we had all matured as people and artists each of us branching out to write and do other things. When we came back to Glass, we each had a few things that didn't really fit a "band-type" arrangement. I know the bass solo was really just inspired by the feeling of getting the Alembic back, how it felt to be in my hands again and all that just came out as I started practicing for the sessions. I started to mess around with playing the bass as if it were a Spanish guitar, using the traditional finger picking style of that type of music. And then I started experimenting with a different tuning for that piece. I loved the way the low E on the Alembic sounded when I tuned it down to a D. So I wrote "Gatito" around an open D tuning. There really wasn't much forethought put into each of us having a "solo" per se. It just happened like many magical moments do with Glass. Jerry had been in the studio working on music for a solo drum album he's recording. He asked me to listen to "Medicine Man" and when I did I just thought "Wow! I gotta talk him into letting this be on the Glass album! It's just too cool. The session where Jerry added the verse was pure magic.

JC: "Medicine Man" was first intended to be a song on a solo CD featuring nothing but percussion instruments. After Jeff and Greg heard it, they convinced me it belonged as part of the "Illuminations".

AI: Jerry, you did some amazing drum work on "Medicine Man". How did you go about creating this part? Was it improvised or did you construct if from ground up?

JC: Medicine Man was total improvised work, with some over dubs, also improvised, but with an overall theme from a dream I had.

AI: I know the original, working title of the album was Reflections, and the final title is Illuminations. The two words are related in some ways, but what made you decide to go with Illuminations instead?

GS: To be honest, I like the title "Reflections" a lot, but after sleeping on it for a short time, we all realized it's also what Barry Manilow would call his greatest hits CD, and it quickly lost favor. I had the title "Illuminations" kicking around for a while because of my fascination with French poet Arthur Rimbaud. The CD took on even more of a "French Connection" over time. The photography for the cover art was taken in Paris (the cover shot is outside the Louvre museum) by our sound engineer Erik Poulsen.

AI: Speaking of titles, you've organized the album into an intro set, and extro set, and three sets each bearing the title that one of the three band members' chose. What were the thoughts behind the titles and what made the songs under that title part of each specific set?

GS: The first set "The Secret World of Aqua J. Long" is really the heart of "Illuminations", from a conceptual standpoint. (Aqua J. Long is a nickname for Jerry from our early teen years). It's about altered mental states, and that reality is nothing more than a convention of ideas that everyone loosely agrees upon. "Astral Transascension" is the gradual ascension of the listener/protagonist to an altered state. "Isle of Dyslexia" and finally "Medicine Man" provide the illuminations to his inner self through the dream-like state. The set "Alchemy of the Word" is taken from the works of 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who originated the idea that one can reach a state of heightened awareness through what he called "derangement of the senses". Each song is one word long, and represents some phase of his life. Some of them, like "Delirium", are poem titles.

JS: My title "Electronic Synaethesia" came to me because this is the first Glass album or set of recordings where I have been able to express my, "progressive ambient" leanings. In the interim years between Glass' original parting of the ways and now, I had at one point become very caught up in the "Found Music" school of thinking. I had always liked bands like Tangerine Dream when I was younger but didn't really have the patience then to appreciate what they were really about. I just liked their textures. When I got older and matured as an artist, I started to get what people like John Cage and Terry Riley were trying to do (I'd like to think). Their attempts to blend the worlds of music and impressionist art into one. Remove the barrier of belief that impressionist art was only about the visual. The idea of music as environment really knocked me out. I think Brian Eno's "Ambient 1 Music for Airports" is one of the most brilliant concept pieces I've ever experienced. In that set of "atmospheres" he truly succeeded in inserting his art concept into a real space, a living space where people existed in his music. He's a genius in my opinion. The "Synaesthasia" part of the title is really a dedication of sorts to a musician friend who has the "disorder" of the same name. (Synaesthasia in people is a neurological condition in which the person having it actually sees colored patterns simultaneously with the hearing of music). When this friend told me about his condition I was fascinated. I immediately wondered what Glass music or my solo music might "look" like to him.

AI: As always, there is a wonderful balance on the album of more melodic, structured prog, and looser, more experimental passages. You were always interested in experimenting and innovating with the technology to discover new ideas and sounds. Tell me about some of the experimenting you did for Illuminations.

JS: Oh Boy, you know I've been waiting to answer this question! Well basically we had two "types" of song material to work with. One set of material was the more structured strong pre-arranged melodic stuff and one set was the "riff" or "lick" type of improvisational music. Where one member brings a lick in to rehearsal - usually in some strange meter - and we use that as the backbone of the piece. On top of that structure almost anything can (and did) happen. One of the strengths of Glass as a unit is the ability we have to inspire each other to create something larger than the sum of all the parts. Or the willingness of all of us to consider a completely different concept than the one we came in with. For instance the song "Crossing" as it was originally written by Greg, was conceived as something entirely different than how we finally recorded it. It was originally part of a larger concept piece Greg was working on inspired by our trips to Mexico (to play BajaProgs 2002 and 2004). He had the backbone sequencer lick written in 2002 and we felt it was so strong we should try and use it for something for this album. We experimented with several different treatment ideas and finally it evolved that we played a kind of "loose acoustic jazz trio" vibe over this very mechanical structure. That worked but there was still something missing. We also felt it needed a little something else - something unpredictable. That's when I got the idea to use some of the .WAV files from my ambient library and play around with them. Create some kind of "explosion" in the middle of this relentless, mechanically driven piece. I used some tricks I'd developed in my solo work like reversing the waveform of part of what we had already recorded as a basic track (ala the beginning of Soft Machines "Facelift" from the "Third" album), work on it as a separate piece and then reinsert it into the song. Then Greg came up with the brilliant idea of constructing (and playing!) the solo section backwards as well. SO we could then take the solo section "flip it over" in ProTools and the keyboard used ( a Korg O1W again through a Marshall stack) would have a reverse envelope attack sound to it while still retaining the melodic and dynamic structures. You asked in a previous question about using the new tools and technologies in working on Illuminations - this is a perfect example of that.

GS: Let's see…on "Isle of Dyslexia" we experimented with cross-Atlantic file exchange of music files with Hugh Hopper. I sent him the original tracks of what I had, and he recorded his parts in his home studio and sent them back as separate files, along with the original tracks. We assembled them in the studio as separate tracks in a multi-track recording, and then I recorded more tracks on top of those. The song "Crossing" is another experiment. We laid down the original tracks in Seattle, at the first recording session, but weren't happy with the track as a whole. We ended up using a tape montage technique, where the middle section was modified in the studio, including a keyboard/guitar solo that's recorded, then played backwards. The first time I heard anybody do that was Jimi Hendrix in "Castles Made of Sand", of course.

AI: I thought it was a really interesting idea to use samples of voicemail messages and other voices in Delirium. How did this idea come about?

JS: That was another piece that underwent quite a metamorphosis. It began life as one of Greg's great licks and we just jammed on it at first in the studio. I think it too was part of another set Greg and been working on but it has such a compelling rhythm to it and was so much fun playing that we just kind of used it to loosen up with during those first sessions in August 2004. Greg had wanted to have a couple songs on the CD that he could really cut loose with on the Hammond B3. The idea for adding the vocal overlays was just another example of that Glass "groupthink" that really is our greatest asset. I think the idea to overlay the voices may have also come from my solo work. I have this huge library of nothing but sounds I've collected. I love sounds-as-music thinking. My original idea once the band accepted the vocal overlay concept was to have several voices going on that would be like the way it would sound if you were at a party and someone put on "Delirium" sans the vocal overlays. And you would just kind of hear it in the background while the party raged on. But Greg wanted it to be more focused - have a relevancy to our concepts for the CD. Jerry had this great idea of having it be like voices in your head when you're under a lot of pressure and ready to crack. We tried many different voice recordings I have. Conversations saved from everything from phone machines to background studio chatter. In the end we chose the ones that fit the idea that this person has got non-stop talking going on in his head. And it's about to explode.

AI: While the three band members primarily perform most of the songs, you do have a few guest appearances by other well-known musicians on the album. Can you tell me who the guests are and how their contributions came about?

GS: There wasn't really an overt plan. It just happened. Ex-Soft Machine legend Hugh Hopper appears on the third song, titled "Isle of Dyslexia". Ex-Hatfield and the North greats Richard Sinclair and Phil Miller are heard on the last track "Gaia". On "Isle of Dyslexia", it was planned to be just tape loops. Then it dawned on us that fuzz bass would sound great on it. When the call goes out for fuzz bass, who else do you call but Hugh Hopper? We emailed Hugh, and he agreed to do it. The whole thing was done with cross-Atlantic file exchange of music files. I sent him the original tracks of what I had, and he recorded his parts in his home studio and sent them back as separate files. We assembled them in the studio as separate tracks in a multi-track recording, and then I recorded more keyboard tracks on top of those. The song "Gaia" was recorded at Bob Lang's Studio in Seattle with Richard and Phil when they were in town for the Progman Cometh 2003 concert in August 2003. We went into the studio with open minds. We recorded three songs, one which was a new Richard Sinclair original in the style of "RSVP". The whole session was pretty much live except for a few overdubs. When we heard "Gaia" in the rush mixes, we new we had something. We knew then it would end up on some CD.

JS: Well, we had met Hugh Hopper, Richard Sinclair and Phil Miller when Jerry brought them over to play at Progman Cometh 2002. That whole experience was so incredible it really defies description. I never thought we'd actually get to meet, let alone play and record, with these guys. It was a blast hanging out with them and somewhere along the way it got decided we'd go into the studio and see what would happen. What happened was the song "Gaia" which ended up closing out the Illuminations CD. It is probably the strangest and most "progressive" of any song on the album.

AI: So what's next for Glass? I know there will be live performances this summer. What shows will you be playing? Is there talk yet of a follow up album to Illuminations?

GS: Live dates are still in the planning stage, with nothing definite yet. There will probably be a gig or two in Southern California with the band "Forever Twelve", and one in the Pacific Northwest. We are in the early stages of feeling out the major Prog festivals for appearances in early 2006. We are also sending out inquiries to put together a small tour of Europe. As far as recording, we are working on new material, which, of course, takes a new direction. More analog synth than before; some acoustic guitar, ala early Glass; we want to finish the concept piece "Europa", which we started in 2002.

JS: We need to play now not only to support the new album, but also to just do it. Get out there and play play play. We are currently working on some shows in Southern California as a prelude to a larger tour we want to do later this year and next. We are very excited about this album and are confident it will help us reach a much wider audience. We think we accomplished what we wanted to with it - which was showing the world that Glass is a band to still be considered. As original and unique as we were when we were younger. As viable as any new, younger band. But with much better writing. And as far as what's next? I don't know about Greg and Jer, but I'm ready for the next thirty years of Glass music!

AI: Thanks guys! As always, it was a great pleasure.

For information on Glass, visit the Relentless Pursuit web site at:
You can visit the Musea Records web site at:

Click your browser's BACK button to return to the previous page.
Or CLICK HERE to return to the main Aural Innovations page.