Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Album Review | Jen Gloeckner | 'Vine' (2017)

image via jen gloeckner 

Vine marks the third studio album for artist Jen Gloeckner, and is her most experimental to date. Carving her own eccentric footprint in the realm of alternative, the eleven tracks on Vine traverse multiple generic conventions creating one of 2017’s most diverse records.

Produced by Gloeckner in her own bedroom and mixed by Brian McTear (Sharon Van Etten, Marrisa Nadler, War on Drugs, Kurt Vile) at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia, Gloeckner channels the alternative scene of the 1990s, combining the atmospheric aura of shoegaze, the broad genre of electronica and the innovative sphere of art rock. Vine also features contributions from John Ashton (guitarist of the Psychedelic Furs), Angela Mattson (vocals and keyboardist of In the Valley Below) and Henry Padovani (guitarist and founding member of The Police).

It’s easy to compare Gloeckner to iconic musicians of these genres. The list is extensive, but it’s obvious that these musicians have had influence on this record: Bjork, Enya, Imogen Heap, Mazzy Star, PJ Harvey, Moby, Radiohead, Massive Attack and the recent work of Lana Del Rey all come to mind when listening to Vine. These musicians may influence Gloeckner, but she manages to create her own distinctive style and aura to separate herself and become her own entity – and will no doubt become a major influence of upcoming musicians; especially with this record.

Vine may only be Gloeckner’s third record, but she has already worked with top musicians (including working with Ashton on his latest solo project – Satiellite Paradiso – which includes contributions from members of the bands behind Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Lou Reed), and her first two records – Miles Away (2004) & Jen Gloeckner’s Mouth of Mars (2010) – have received worldwide airplay and have been featured in some of the world’s top music publications. The track ‘Haunt You’ from Mouth of Mars was also featured in Brittany Murphy’s posthumous film Something Wicked released in 2014.

As stated in the press release, Gloeckner’s latest record “continues with another collection of atmospheric, mind-bending songs” which seemingly transport you to another dimension. The combination of Americana, 50s sweeping jazz, 60s psychedelia, melancholic lyrics and melodies add a certain depth and substance to Vine that is lacking in the current sphere of popular music.

The eleven tracks of Vine bounce off one another, flowing through the different generic conventions of alternative and electronica. The songs ‘Breathe’ and ‘Ginger Ale’ are complete opposites in terms of sound and melody, yet they still flow seamlessly in and out of one another. This is an occurring theme for this record, producing an audio limbo for the listener whilst still providing a wistful dream-like trance that Gloeckner has come to be known for.

Listening to Vine, I couldn’t help but make the connection between the music of Angelo Badalamenti, the composer for the TV series Twin Peaks (and long-time collaborator of David Lynch). Songs such as ‘Blowing Through’, ‘Counting Sheep’ and ‘Row with the Flow’ all harness a similar feeling to Badalamenti’s work on the show. Both musicians utilize the combination of genres, most importantly 80s synth-centric pop and 50s cool-jazz. 

Gloeckner’s use of ‘cool-jazz’ is especially prevalent throughout the tracks, with a light brush percussion often used on top of percussive beats (Especially ‘Blowing Through’; this reminds me of Badalamenti’s ‘Audrey’s Dance’). This combination allows a weird sense of nostalgia and timelessness to flow through their work, enhancing the messages that the music is producing for the listener.

Gloeckner’s Vine is shaping out to be one of the best records of 2017. In the current commercialized atmosphere, it’s artists such as Gloeckner that have the ability to breathe fresh air into the industry to not only change the playing field, but to also inspire upcoming artists to do the same. 

Follow Jen Gloeckner on:

Instagram: @jen_gloeckner 
Twitter: @jengloeckner
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