'Capitalism is what is left when beliefs have collapsed at the level of ritual or symbolic elaboration, and all that is left is the consumer-spectator, trudging through the ruins and the relics.' - Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism.
Ani Glass : Mirores6 March 2020 I Recordiau Neb
I first saw Ani Glass perform at the inaugural Future Yard festival. Her mid-afternoon set of resplendent autobahn pop floated out over the Mersey from an open air stage nested in the ruins of Birkenhead Priory. In the sunshine and still-sacred setting it was an unexpectedly absorbing expression of pop-otherness.
At that point there was not much recorded music to follow up the interest the performance created. Glass' solo output had been sparse, with only a lone EP (Ffrwydrad Tawel) released in 2017.
That is about to change - a momentous single has recently calved from her imminent debut album, like an iceberg from the sea edge of a suddenly advancing glacier. The single, and ensuing album, take their name from a neologism, Mirores, which incorporates the name of one of Glass' favourite artists - Joan Miró - and the Cornish word for 'to look', miras. The meaning of the new word is suggested as 'observer'; aptly as the album's song-cycle is a flow of participant observations of the city in which Glass was born and now lives, Cardiff.
A closeness of connection to place in the new music is symbolised by IBT, a piece at the heart of the eleven track set. IBT is a straight capture of a rousing, emotional choir singing Freedom is Coming, a South African protest song. The Cardiff-based choir is one Glass' mother sings in, Côr Cochion Caerdydd, the recording was made at their friend (and former member) Beaty's funeral in 2018.
There is an intimacy to that minute of voices raised in unison that echoes through the rest of the album, as samples, melody and moon-luminous vocals are interlaced to express a deeply rooted hometown psycho-geography.
Mirores opens with The Ballad of A Good City - an urban morning evoked, and closes with the gentle beat, melodic electronic waves and promise of The Rising of the Moon.
In between there is enough intelligence, emotion and genuine pop artistry to satisfy head, heart and feet - all three fully represented in the understated but imperious sweep of Peirianwaith Perffaith, the simple pop majesty of Cathedral in the Desert, the cloud-like drift of Cariad, and the magnificence of the title track, a pulsing electronic hymn to finding inspiration from despair.
Yet, for all the attention each of those songs demands, this is an album that needs to be taken as a whole - then it forms a hypnotic trip, taking you from wherever you might be to a place of atmospheric samples and softly euphoric choruses.
Mirores' sound is grounded in eighties synth-pop, finding there an innate sense of substance, with other layers of influence detailing it; Glass acknowledges inspirational debts to Martin Rushent, Giorgio Moroder, Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre and Arthur Russell, whilst the album's wider themes have been inspired by the works of the abstract painter Agnes Martin and the author and activist Jane Jacobs.
That range and depth of current cultural hinterland is underpinned by the long apprenticeship Glass served before Mirores - with key moments coming when she joined her sister Gwenno in The Pipettes for their second, Martin Rushent produced, album and featured in the R&B pop group Genie Queen, managed by OMD's Andy McCluskey.
The final result is impressive. Mirores is a transcendent electronic pop achievement, remarkable for the enlightenment in its bones.
Ani Glass resolutely refuses to trudge as she finds layers of meaning in her home town - and instead has created a captivating electro-pop dreamscape woven from seductive melodies, bewitching rhythms and the ambient sounds of a city.
Ani Glass MIRORES 2020 tour dates :
- 6th March - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
- 7th March - Railway Station, Caernarfon
- 10th March - The Social, London TBC
- 13th March - In-store at Spillers, Cardiff
- 14th March - Ty Pawb, Wrexham
- 21st March - In-store at Tangled Parrot, Carmarthen