David Norland releases debut full-length Glam Tear Stain, skillfully manipulating intimate but docile tones set against mesmerizing rhythmic textures.
Emmy-nominated neo-classical composer David Norland has been a busy man. Recently composing the score to 2018 HBO film My Dinner With Herve and with previous work on The View, Norland recently turned his attention to full-length debut record Glam Tear Stain. Steeped in personal experiences and emotions, the composer creates an intimate atmosphere that draws its real strength when focusing on the album’s gentle minimalism.
Opener Agate or Barium starts off with docile piano tones, creating an emotional beginning that highlights the personal sadness Norland found when creating the record. Strings intermittently join the foray of tenderness, creating moments of emblazoned but delicate passion. Dark Boots Chorale continues the theme, deepening the hurt and hardship with a slower pace, gentle tonal themes, and a brassic atmosphere. As the track progresses you feel a slight nod to acceptance as the music dims before coming back stronger and more effervescent than before.
Norland is a master of change enveloped in subtlety as seen by his film scores, and Glam Tear Stain is no different. Barotraum features middle-eastern tones as it junctures off into sporadic moments of inventiveness that manage to pull the essence of the track together, whereas the fragile but beautiful On the Needle and the Wound moves onto a more contemporary sound with electronics used against flowing strings and water-tight melodies. This is brought back to earth with one of the most alluring piano pieces on the record that leads into more electronica set against the sounds of children playing. A true album highlight.
As the record progresses we get a sense that Norland is opening up to the listener as he unapologetically pours in more ideas and beauty against the minimalist soundscape. Apart Together is only a minute long but it’s gentle and brooding atmosphere says all it needs to in a short space of time. Album closer Ash Motel then uses its longer running time to tie everything together against ethereal tones and settled organs, building these against piano that provides substance as you move forward to the gentle climax.
The Vinyl edition of the record really helps bring out the docile notes and moments of ingenuity, with the tones feeling warmer amongst a degree of separation that isn’t as apparent on other formats. It’s obviously been cut very well. The record is housed in the beautiful, deep green artwork featuring a detailed portrait of the moon and all its crevasses, pitfalls and craters. Unfortunately, there were no sleeve notes or photos, but you do get a download code if you want to listen to the music on the go.
Glam Tear Stain is a stunning work of art that grows with every listen. You can feel every instance of emotion that Norland has expertly included, with tracks featuring a variety of techniques and aspects that help bring out the essence of what is trying to be perceived. A genuinely emotive journey that can be gentle and serene, but still powerful enough to portray the despondency threaded throughout.
By Jamie Parmenter