When Tone Sketch was released last October, it bumped Glimmer of Sunlight straight to 2012. This turns out to have been a smart decision, as the two releases might otherwise have competed against each other. The earlier album was more vocal-centric; Glimmer of Sunlight only contains vocals on the opening track.
Pawn (Hideki Umezawa) has a habit of releasing albums that are half new, half remix. The advantage of this approach is that listeners can decide which versions they like better and create their own playlists. The risk is that those who listen all the way through may feel they have just played the same album twice. Thankfully, there’s enough variety here to prevent that from happening. The best mixes preserve all that is great about Pawn – the bell tones and xylophones that have intrigued listeners ever since Glass + Breath. But the artists who impose their own sounds help the album to be more well rounded. For this reason, Solo Andata‘s ambient take on “A Thousand Cups of Coffee and Despair” is effective in context, even though it pales next to the original. And while Cuushe may be upset to find her vocals excised on the remix of “We are Alone Until the End of the World”, her absence allows the other guest star, Danny Norbury, to shine more brightly.
For a while, múm was the go-to reference band for music box music. If an album contained the sound of a music box, twee vocals, or both, the Icelandic collective always seemed to get mentioned. But múm has changed its sound so frequently that comparisons now need a time stamp in order to be valid. Pawn is the new old múm, as tracks such as “A Thousand Cups of Coffee and Despair” and “Sketch of a Wooden Hand Orgel” hearken back to Loksins erum við engin in their sense of playfulness and childlike wonder. Listening to these pieces is like listening to the sound of an infant’s mobile above a crib, and hearing the infant coo in response. But Glimmer of Sunlight also shares with Loksins erum við engin a spectrum of sound ranging from the folk-tinged (the title track) to the drone (“I Colored the Arctic White”). Pawn has expanded his horizons, adding much more than a glimmer of sunlight to his future; his new album is like a full-fledged sunrise. (Richard Allen)
Release Date: February 28