We had our celebration at The Camel on Tuesday, and now it’s time to share this new album with the rest of the world!
You can buy our new album, Beach of the War Gods, at any of these fine sites:
Here’s more info on this exciting release:
Glows in the Dark’s Latest Album
Beach of the War Gods
Explores Cinematic Music in a New Light
The latest release from Glows in the Dark takes the relationship between music and film way beyond the expected. Following their 2008 debut, Beach of the War Gods is guitarist and leader Scott Burton’s idea of how music can be inspired by movies, and it’s a clear evolution of Glows in the Dark’s sound that is driven by tight grooves and loose improvisations. And for Burton, it’s a way of combining two of his interests just short of scoring a film.
Every track — except one — is named after the movie that it’s inspired by, like the first track, “Revolver,” which is about a 1973 poliziotteschi film of the same name. It’s a good indication of Burton’s angle. “I’ll take a movie and try to recreate the structure of the movie in a song,” Burton says. “It’s figuring out a different way to tell the story with improvisation.” Trombonist Reggie Pace and tenor saxophonist John Lilley represent the film’s two main characters: a cop and a criminal who are forced to work together. Burton’s use of a repetitive groove while activity swirls around it happens from the album’s onslaught and reappears frequently in his compositions.
Pace’s and Lilley’s roles are similar in “The Silence,” the 1963 Swedish film directed by Ingmar Bergman, in which they explore the twisted relationship and character development between a mother and her sister in a land where no one can understand them.
For some of these compositions, the band gives the music new meaning when they play it, never having seen the film that it’s about. For others, like “Manhunt,” viewing the film dramatically altered the band’s interpretation of the song. In the film, a small-time criminal who is being chased by the mob sees a mobster kill his wife and child with a car. “You see something in him snap,” Burton says, and what follows is “probably one of the single greatest car chases that has ever happened in a movie.” When the criminal gets his revenge, there’s a strange feeling of release that is beautifully alluded to in the music.
John Carpenter’s “Halloween 1978” finds its way into “One Armed Swordsman.” Burton takes a cue from hip-hop and the art of sampling, but with a live band. He explains, “I like the idea of that happening organically and acoustically as opposed to digitally.” Especially with Carpenter’s music, which is mostly if not completely played with a synthesizer, the band owns their acoustic sample of the eerie, anxiety-ridden music. The music that surrounds it on both sides about the the Shaw Brothers film starring actor Jimmy Wang Yu is about a small town hero whose arm gets chopped off within the first few minutes.
“I usually decide if I’m going to write a song about a movie before I see the movie,” Burton says, and like One Armed Swordsman, Beach of the War Gods happens to star Jimmy Wang Yu. The impetus for watching films like these is often Kung Fu Night, a weekly gathering at Burton’s house of friends devoted to watching movies of the genre. Pace and Burton both wondered how they could reflect in their music the movies that they have watched, and while the trombonist took the influence to his No BS! Brass Band with pieces like the suite The Ballad of the Eagle Claw, Burton applied it more to the form and structure of his compositions.
Even a lack of form inspire Burton’s compositions. The 1975 film Violent Rome starring Maurizio Merli is a great action movie without an overarching plot. “It’s literally just a collection of scenes,” he says. In four parts interspersed throughout the album, each “Violent Rome” is a small vignette of controlled improvisation. The second part has bassist Cameron Ralston and drummer Scott Clark filling up all the space while Pace and Lilley improvise long tones. Ralston and Burton take over the long tones in the third part while Pace mimics Clark’s cymbal swells and pulsating drums, providing fodder for Lilley’s solo.
In a similar fashion, “Caliber 9” is an extended solo for Pace with the plot thickening behind him. The 1972 Italian film is about a former mob accomplice who gets out of prison to find the mob chasing him for money that he supposedly stole before being locked up. “It’s all about this guy being put under extreme pressure,” Burton says, “so the way we did this was to have it be a feature for Reggie.” A twist at the end of the movie is reflected appropriately.
The album closes up shop on “My Name is Cameron Vale,” inspired by the terrible acting by the main character in the film Scanners. The piece is “based around the idea of some guy slowly going nuts, basically a brain being overloaded,” Burton says.
In a city as small and filled with talent as Richmond, Virginia, the best musicians are going to play in multiple bands, and that could be said for all five members of Glows in the Dark. But Burton’s compositions along with the versatility of each player allows them to sound true to the band while keeping their unique musical persona. Pace (Fight the Big Bull, No BS! Brass) is still Pace and Ralston (Fight the Big Bull, Ombak, ILAD) is still Ralston, but they all adapt to the Glows sound. Same with Clark (ILAD) and Lilley (Fight the Big Bull, Bio Ritmo). “It is really remarkable how different everyone sounds in different bands,” Burton says.
But together, they form the Glows in the Dark sound, even while recycling material from Burton’s old rock trio Ones and Zeros (“Gary Glitter”). For an album mainly inspired by decades old cinema, their sound is surprisingly groundbreaking.
Release date: May 24, 2011
Personnel: Scott Burton (guitarist, compositions); Reggie Pace (trombone, percussion); John Lilley (tenor saxophone); Cameron Ralston (bass); Scott Clark (drums).
2. Violent Rome I
3. Beach of the War Gods
5. One Armed Swordsman
6. Violent Rome II
7. The Silence
8. Violent Rome III
9. Caliber 9
10. Gary Glitter
11. Violent Rome IV
12. My Name is Cameron Vale