The first Cool Thing to Like about Originals is that it’s available on one’s choice of digital, cassette or vinyl, a generous selection in the modern age. The second is that the music is indeed original, as the title touts. One would expect no less from Weird Ear Records, whose homonym is “We’re Dear” or perhaps “We’re Deer”. Those looking for a similar homonym for the artist – for example, “Glow Kids” – may be surprised to learn that a glochid is a little cactus barb. Hello, Barb!
With 18 tracks to peruse, one might expect the album to sound a little disjointed, but once one gets used to the idea of sound celebration, the rest unfolds like a picture book. In the beginning, all is ambient and kind: tape rustle, piano, captive birds. What a sweet little record this will be! But the origin is not the destination. Even before the first track ends, the sound begins to warp, as if filtered through an echo chamber. Before long, Glochids (Tempe’s James Roemer) delves into crunch and improv; bubble wrap seems to be an instrument on “Swell Sacsayhauman”. Roemer investigates the sonic properties of whatever lands within his reach, operating with childlike abandon and keen adult intention. Sometimes he sings; sometimes he plays guitar. On “Palo Museo”, one gets the impression that he’s snuck into a Buddhist temple to play with their chimes (it’s really his own gamelan, but speech provides the appearance of impropriety). Every timbre is fair game; if he finds it interesting, it’s included, from video games to bicycle wheels to radio rapping to walking on snow. The album travels across international borders, but makes no such announcement; it’s easy enough to intuit from the dialects and sampled songs, especially at the close of “gamelan hiphop chinese capoeira”.
If there’s any downside to the album, it’s that the tracks are often too short, with pauses inbetween. With so many distinct samples and live instruments in the mix, one wonders how the album might sound as a single soundscape. Such a change would require a bit of re-sequencing – for example, the birds of the 14th track might fly all the way back to the beginning. Would the charm of the current tumble be replaced by a welcome sense of a coherence, or would order rob the set of its charm? Either way, when listening to Originals, one gets the impression that Glochids has a sock drawer of sources waiting to be used. His ear for the original will keep us listening. (Richard Allen)