Boomkat Product Review:
Annea Lockwood’s 1970 avant-garde evergreen is a masterpiece of concrète innovation defined by a sound sensitive curiosity and poetic imagination, now back in circulation via Room 40, on a newly remastered edition that comes with a bonus artist book. Essential listening for all and any disciples of Pauline Oliveros, Christina Kubisch, Ruth Anderson, Madalyn Merkey, Tomoko Sauvage, claire rousay, Alvin Lucier.
‘Glass World’ is the resoundingly classic debut by a pioneering American artist whose tactile, holistic approach to sound craft has been crucial in blurring distinctions between academic, sound art, and experimental musics for half a century. The album’s 23 vignette-like pieces derive from hands-on experiments with the form and function of glass in a musical context, using various techniques to stimulate and animate glass objects and revel in their familiar yet peculiar acoustic resonances and ringing overtones. Over the decades the album has achieved legendary status as one of those records that has found its way to curious ears one way or another, and has sparked the imaginations of so many sound dreamers in the process.
Born in New Zealand in 1939, Annea moved to England in 1961 to study at the Royal College of Music, London, and followed courses under post-serialist pioneer Gottfried Michael Koenig (an influence upon everyone from Roland Kayn to AFX) which honed her playfully intuitive fascination with the malleability and endless strangeness of acoustic sound vibration and resonance. ‘Glass World of Annea Lockwood’, as it was originally known, most beautifully made audible her vision in 1970 with something like a sound map to an archipelago of imagined, ethnomusicological sounds that resemble rudimentary gamelan as much as the sounds of liquid water music or domestic chores, each twinkling and chattering with a recognisable yet otherworldly character that leaves an indelible imprint on the listener.
With all but ‘Water Gong’ and ‘Deep Water Gong’ lasting under 3 minutes, the purely instrumental parts flow over the user in an effortlessly enchanting passage of time, future-proofed by their plaintive simplicity but riddled with the sort of detail that snags on first listen and rewards with repeat returns. It’s not hard to hear analogs with Annea’s recordings in work by her contemporaries such as longterm partner, Ruth Anderson, or the deep listening strategies of Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier or Christina Kubisch, but also likewise in the modern world with the direct similarities of Tomoko Sauvage and claire rousay’s small sound experiments, or the between-worlds electro-acoustic sensitivities of Teresa Winter and Madalyn Merkey.
Essential listening for the curious ear, no less.