opinion byBEN BROCK WILKES
I was surprised to read that Cameron Mesirow recorded her second full-length as Glasser in a windowless Manhattan studio, rather than in the isolated Swedish lakeside home made entirely of windows that I had imagined while listening. Perhaps my preconceptions of the artist’s creative context undervalued the title she came to adorn the album with, Interiors, but there is absolutely nothing that feels contained or walled in about this record.
There is a remarkable precision and articulate clarity to every tone crafted to be a part of Mesirow’s bizarre networks of texture and melody – perhaps in an attempt to hem in and direct her debut’s display of rawer power. Unconventional rhythmic angles are sliced with the sharpest of knives and planned with the most delicate of deliberations. Interiors is as sleek and metallic as modernist interior design, conjuring images of busy urban landscapes and the emptiness they can inspire.
Despite its polished mazes that teem with unfamiliar noise, the freedom of motion and sense of spacious comfort that this music evokes is startling – akin to my imagination of the echoing, evergreen hills north of Stockholm. This paradox is what Interiors is all about.
Mesirow is openly agoraphobic, so the claustrophobia that some may associate with the indoors was a welcome companion in her recent relocation to New York City. However, the cultural capital of the Eastern seaboard seems to have engendered in her, as it does in many, a hollowness amongst the mass of fast-paced individualism, “I miss the idle moments that define who we are.”
Ironically, producing music that is crowded shoulder-to-shoulder with ideas seems to provide solace. How then do we reconcile the sensation of space, of weightlessness, that these songs make us feel? Glasser has succeeded in a much sought after goal of art; to express personal conflict in hopes that this performance will serve as inspiration to the observer. The freedom that the listener relishes in the found space on Interiors is exactly what she wants us to feel, and exactly what she wants to feel herself.
Glasser has addressed paradox in the modern condition by confronting it head-on. How can tones so sparkling and clean seem like they belong bouncing off of lush hillsides? How can a sound so utterly urban and contemporary simultaneously seem primitive, as it does on “Landscape”? How can a style so otherworldly, melodies so foreign, like the ones on “New Year,” feel right at home in our xenophobic, insulated ears?
All these things are possible because Mesirow embraces the apparent contradiction of being an experimental pop artist, of being born into the life of critical recognition and furthering her renown by showcasing her human insecurities, of using fear to overcome fear. “My home has no shape; nothing to sustain me, but it keeps me safe from imagined pain.”
If another goal of art could be said to remove humanity, if only for a moment, from the physical world by using the tools of the very same physical world, Interiors has followed all the rules of architecture to make a building that floats. [B]