Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Glass Fingers’ ‘This’ is one of the year’s best

Posted on October 02, 2011 in Album Reviews
By Kevin Steeves

WSA Arts Collective

In 1963 Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys professed the intimacy of bedroom creativity to the world with their immensely successful single “In My Room.” For Wilson, the bedroom proved to be his single solitary kingdom where he was able to escape the ensuing Beach Boys hysteria that was sweeping across the globe. “There’s a world where I can go/And tell all my secrets to/In my room/In my room.” Since the single’s release, the notion of the bedroom being the workshop of an up-and-coming musician concerned only with being an artist as opposed to being a celebrity has been revisited time and time again. Like most ideas in popular culture, time has not been friendly to the original intention of the technique and has reduced bedroom recording to little more than a buzzword or synonym for an absence of proper production techniques in music.

This isn’t the case for Jesse Gertz’s newest release under the Glass Fingers banner. Partially recorded in his bedroom, “This” is a nod to the varied history of music, and a monumental leap forward in the music of the 19-year-old South Portland native. It’s an astounding album and a sure contender for the best local album released this year. “This” is more than a confessionally-intimate recording; Gertz puts absolutely everything on the line with “This,” covering far more distance than musicians 50-years his senior have in their entire career.

This incredible sense of personable intimacy is even more impressive considering the sustained use of electronics in “This.” While the use of synthesizers, keyboards and multitrack recording often creates a cold, unrelatable distance between the audience and the artist, Gertz’s low key, less-is-more approach, draws the listener closer into the recording to the point of feeling at ease. “Lose Your Mind” is a great example of this ability, as a simple electronic drum is interwoven with sparse guitar tones and a hypnotic 8-bit chip-tone as Gertz repeatedly pleads: “Don’t make me lose your mind tonight/Don’t make me chose a side/Don’t make me chose what’s right/Don’t make me lose your mind this time.”

This isn’t to say that “This” is an entirely low-key affair, as the frenetic “3:33” drives into an incessant barrage of electronic crashes and distortion. Gertz is a man possessed, the polar opposite of the narrative in “Lose Your Mind”: “I said I wont sing about you/Let me out of your sight/ Now see what I got into.” The ability for the artist to be as defined and sure in either role is not only successful, it’s outright impressive.

It has to be said again: Jesse Gertz is only 19. But it would be ignorant to simply limit this work as impressive for someone this young. “This” would be an incredible release at any age, but his youth lends itself to a hope that somehow an even more impressive release is in Glass Fingers’ future.

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