Glass Hammer Release “The Return Of Daedalus” Official Video
Glass Hammer’s Steve Babb will release the nearly 17-minute-long epic, “The Return Of Daedalus,” in video form on Halloween to celebrate their ARISE release.
“Books have always been a big influence on the concepts behind our albums,” says Babb. “Besides fantasy and historical fiction, I’ve been a big fan of the cosmic horror genre. The works of H. P. Lovecraft have been a favorite since I was twenty, and recently, I’ve gotten into the works of his protégé, Clark Ashton Smith.
“ARISE was conceived as a cosmic horror story, or at least one that would evoke that particular sort of dread. It’s about a deep-space mission meant to glorify the achievements of man. But the android they commission encounters a rift in space. All sorts of nasty beings are emerging from this anomaly, and rather than being glorified, humanity finds its very existence at stake.”
The album’s finale is The Return Of Daedalus, Daedalus being the name of the android’s spacecraft. It’s divided into three distinct parts: Battle At MARS-001, Reentry, and The Doom Of The World.
“Music is the tool to express life—and all that makes a difference.” – Herbie Hancock
Music is a unique form of art. It allows us to express our emotions and creativity through beautiful notes, melodies, and lyrics. It can influence and exert a substantial effect on us, making music a compelling art that helps us in so many ways.
Music accompanies us on life’s great highs and gives us solace when we suffer life’s great lows. Without music, life would have no colour and the greatest music lights up our lives in so many ways and, every now and then, these musical gems come unbidden into my life. Thanks to JazzFuel music, this gorgeous album born from a collaboration between renowned vocalist Andreas Schaerer and esteemed jazz guitarist Kalle Kalima, arrived recently and It has been a totally immersive and emotive musical journey while I got to know it.
‘Swiss vocal acrobat Andreas Schaerer and Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima have some things in common. As artists, each is essentially in a category completely of his own. Both are musicians who can always conjure something special from their chosen instruments. Both are known on the international jazz scene for the completely distinctive and original ways their music constantly crosses genres. Both have played together for several years in the quartet A Novel Of Anomaly. And now they have recorded a first album together in which the focus is on the two of them. However, for this “evolution” (as the album title has it), they have also involved – and drawn inspiration from – a musician whom they both admire, Tim Lefebvre. The American bassist has worked with many pop and jazz stars, notably Sting, ElvisCostello, David Bowie, Mark Guiliana, Wayne Krantz…Lefebvre’s involvement in the Michael Wollny Trio’s breakthrough was, incidentally, anything but tangential. In other words, his playing is at home in practically every context.
Listeners familiar with Schaerer’s and Kalima’s previous work may find “Evolution” somewhat surprising. “An album is such a different platform from playing live on stage,” explains Schaerer. “Over the course of our many recordings, we have become increasingly aware quite how differently one has to play.” That awareness has also resulted in a particularly careful focus on the post-production phase of ‘Evolution’.
Taking turns, Schaerer and Kalima each contributed both an idea and a song text (three of these are in fact by Kalima’s wife Essi) before developing these versions in the studio together. Each piece therefore bears an unmistakable and very personal signature, not just musically, but also in the lyrics. “Kalle and I are also processing some deeply personal and intimate thoughts and experiences in some of the lyrics. And, of course, it’s also about things that are currently bothering us in the world, from artificial intelligence to the question implicit in the album title, as to whether evolution is stagnating.‘
This splendid jazz evolved release opens with the delicate Rapid Eye Movement where Kalle shows his penchant for the ever changing colours of folk music, his guitar dancing lightly in your mind as Andreas’ vocal flows warmly over the top, a superb lesson in how less is more. The haunting, psychedelic tension of Trigger is highly evident in Andreas Schaerer’s falsetto vocal and the edgy, spine-tingling guitar, it’s all very disturbing in a deeply creative way and gets under your skin as it crawls menacingly along. There’s a laid back, almost funky vibe to the stylish charms of Pristine Dawn, Andreas low vocal reminiscent of Bob Dylan in places as Kalle’s chic, jazzy guitar lays down a cool groove. Evolution does just that throughout its five minute running time. There is a definite free-form jazz atmosphere to this clever, intricate piece, especially as we get further into the song and Kalle’s guitar gets wild and dramatic before the song comes to a close with a wonderfully improvised ending.
I’ve got to give special mention to the brilliant bass playing from Tim Lefebvre, a musician who has been such an inspiration for both Andreas and Kalle, on this album he just stays there in the background and delivers the most sublime bass playing, sometimes on electric and sometimes on double bass. “We played with Tim for the first time at the big Jubilee concert celebrating 30 years of ACT. The chemistry was so good, we decided we would keep in touch. When I called him about ‘Evolution’, he didn’t hesitate for a second”, Schaerer remembers. “It was then really impressive how quickly he could connect emotionally with the music. It’s crazy how he grooves on a track like SloMo, and how we were able to play ourselves into a frenzy over Kalle’s guitar track.” And he’s not wrong about SloMo, the bass is simply superb and Kalle’s incendiary guitar trades blows with Andreas’ vocal tricks, clicking and popping sounds, beatboxing and polyphonically layered vocalise, to deliver a free-form jazz extravaganza. Song Yet Untitled has a layered, cinematic feel to its slow burning atmosphere and Kalle’s guitar almost talks to you while Andreas delivers a haunting, ethereal vocal performance that has you holding your breath. There’s a calm reflection about the glorious Untold Stories, a song that has more of a singer/songwriter feel than pure jazz. The guitar has a more of a formal feel to it, as if following guidelines but this does not make it any less than the other pieces on this sublime album, especially on the intricate, flowing solo that Kalle delivers mid way through the track. Andreas’ vocal has a keening edge to it, although there is still a warmth at its core, and the whole piece leaves you in state of rapt contemplation.
Multitasking, with its humorous plays on words and philosophical theme, is typical of Andreas. It’s a fast paced track where his vocal tricks are brought into play again, especially the grin inducing ‘mouth trumpet’ solo and Kalle plays along merrily, his guitar almost dancing as he plucks each note. Despite there being no words, there’s a wondrous lyrical quality to the wistful and nostalgic So Far, a quiet, hushed piece of music that will lift any anger or stress that you may be feeling. Tim Lefebvre leaves his talented mark on Piercing Love with a beautiful solo intro on his elegant double bass before Andreas delivers a mesmerising vocal. Kalle contributes his usual exquisite guitar playing, including a stunning solo, and we are treated to another fine ‘mouth trumpet’ performance by Kalima. The album closes with the hypnotic, melancholy Sphere where Kalle’s superlative guitar once again sings out, entrancing every listener. Andreas’ voice has a sorrowful catch to it which, along with the heartbreaking guitar, gives the song a stark and yet darkly beautiful aura. It is a beautifully plaintive way to close out the song and the album.
To be honest, I don’t know if you can call this ‘Jazz’ in the true sense of the word, with ‘Evolution’Andreas Schaerer and Kalle Kalima have ripped up the rule book and rewritten what a jazz album can really be. What I can say about it is that is is a truly incredible collection of highly personal and intimate songs that will resonate with anyone who takes the time to explore this fascinating musical journey. It certainly expresses life in all its glory and that is so important in this day and age.