Raging and Reflecting With Glassing’s Ambient Metal
Letting just a little light in on new album Spotted Horse
In a modern musical landscape where subgenres collide into uneasy blends calling attention to their construction, a band melding multiple influences into a seamless whole counts as damn near revolutionary. Incorporating strains of post-rock, noise rock, math rock, black metal, and ambient music, Glassing doesn't lean definitively toward any of those styles, but stands sure-footed on its amalgamated foundation. The Austinian palette of bassist/vocalist Dustin Coffman, guitarist Cory Brim, and drummer Jason Camacho avoids cognitive dissonance in reaching full cohesion on Spotted Horse, the locals' second album and Brutal Panda debut.
Both children of musicians, Coffman and Brim met when the former's San Antonio-based crew, We the Granada (which included future Boyfrndz frontman Scott Martin), played a show with the latter's New Orleans band, Hat Talk, there in the Crescent City.
"He was in the mathy, screamy band, and I was in the post-rock band," elaborates Brim. "Interesting that [we] made a band that's a mix between both of them."
The pair reconnected in 2014 Austin at a Scoot Inn show and convened for a jam. Thus began Glassing. Having shared a bill at Red 7 (now Barracuda) with the nascent combo while still in Chicago noise act Lechuguillas, Camacho joined after substituting for Glassing's original timekeeper when the latter wasn't available. The chemistry proved obvious.
"Once we played with him, we were like, 'That's it,'" says Brim. "'This other drummer's not coming back.'"
While Erik Wofford produced 2017's punk-infused Light and Death at Cacophony Recorders, its successor metastasized at Estuary Recording with engineer Andrew Hernandez. A huge leap from its rowdy predecessor, Spotted Horse projects light and shade, dreamy guitar textures overlaid with tortured screams, shifting rhythm beds supporting scorched-earth riffs. The album reflects not only the musicians' varied artistic experiences, but also the life journeys each has taken.
"Andrew's the reason Spotted Horse sounds like it does," insists Coffman. "All this album choreography we had rough ideas for, but we didn't really have the execution knowledge readily available for it. Andrew gave us the ability to flesh out ideas, and encouraged a lot of the weird things that we wanted to do. He's Glassing's fourth member."
The LP takes its name from a street southwest of Austin on which the ranch where that material came together is located. Sound engineer Adam Smith donated the space in exchange for the group taking care of its animals. The locale fed into the threesome blowing up personal inspirations into widescreen epics, an approach seemingly out of favor in Glassing's hometown.
"There's a vibe out there with popular Austin music where they're making music for people to like," theorizes Brim. "Very generalized, easy-to-digest type stuff. It's not that we're against that, because we're not. A lot of our stuff is easy to digest if you can get through the loud-and-heavy type thing.
"But I think the wide-angle thing is a good compliment, because it's a testament that we're really trying to play music that's for us."
While Brim states "each of our parts are super personal," the obvious path into those intimate realities comes, unsurprisingly, from Coffman's lyrics. Though the singer paints with a deliberately abstract hand, he also doesn't shy away from expressing the emotions that led to the songs' creation.
"Some of those songs have a motif of self-deprecation," he says. "Things that have molded my life in different ways. Most of them are all pretty unique."
The most poignant source of inspiration comes from the death of Coffman's mother, which informs the album.
"The very beginning of the record opens with chimes that belonged to my mom, and she passed away a few years ago," he affirms. "While we were writing, we incorporated it. I think paying homage to things like that is a good idea."
The emotional impact of that tragedy hits most powerfully on the raging "A Good Death" and atmospheric "The Wound Is Where the Light Enters," whose title nods to Leonard Cohen. Coffman elaborates on the circumstances obliquely: "I tried to create this narrative between substance abuse, my mom, and myself," he ventures. "It's almost as if you're talking like a substance that controls somebody – how that substance can speak for a person. That's what 'A Good Death' and 'The Wound Is Where the Light Enters' are. The narrative is the substance speaking through my mom to me."
As Glassing prepares for its June 1 release show at Barracuda – with Boyfrndz, Grivo, and Saint Peeler – and its fourth national tour, Coffman reflects on the indirect route the band takes to get to impassioned honesty.
"It goes against my personality type to dwell on a lot of stuff like that," he notes. "But when you see a platform for emotional release and you don't take it, I feel you do yourself a disservice by bottling it up. So if I have an outlet for it, and it's in music, then I'll do it, if I think it fits. I would never try to force the subject of loss or death if it didn't have significance in the art."