'Glitter in my tears'
based on a true story
"may very well be a dark horse candidate for the most prophetic album of the year"
26 track CD by Janek Schaefer
Released by Room40 Australia June 2017
sparkles into the light of night
beam me up*
looking for love
what comes around
dawn draws In
all in the mind
forgetting the way forward
falls from favour
tale of two angels
glitter in my tears
conclusions in two minds
(* track 2 collab with Radovan Scasascia]
‘Glitter in my tears’ marks the 20th anniversary of Janek Schaefer’s career as a recording artist, having now released 30 albums.
Each piece is a microcosm of haunted memory, that unites to create a record of melancholic vignettes, and
It’s a record of delightful dark emotions evolving from the evocative dreams we yearn for, with our feet firmly on the floor, always wanting more. An unfolding compendium of motifs and repetitive fragments, fading from the memories of our emotions.
Sparkling lights glisten within the hidden shadows of our feelings, with outpourings of love falling through the depths of despair . . . . It is based on a true story”.
'Glitter in my tears'
To accompany the calm title track of his stunning new album on Room40, Janek Schaefer has crafted a visual cacophony, by deploying his passion and vast collection of shiny materials. Using different scales of glitter along with petrol, fire, flames, foil, disco lights, sunshine and smoke, he has created a magical work, that puzzles and expands the mind, and is in stark contrast to the sound, as revealed in these screenshots.
"I found myself at the bottom of the garden at midnight with a can of petrol, a turntable of rotating glitters, and my camera, setting fire to the nocturnal sparkles engulfed by flames, and living my dream, by creating chaos".
Stills from the short film : Premiered by FACT magazine
a work of quietly understated beauty - elusive, rarified compositional brilliance - If anything it’s arguably his master opus. Bravo!
Brainwashed [Anthony D'Amico]
+ "Glitter In My Tears may very well be a dark horse candidate for the most prophetic album of the year"
+ "an uncategorizable fourth category that can probably be best described as "gleefully weird, one-off mindfuckery"
+ "It feels a lot like a hyper-real variation upon late-night, hypnagogic channel-surfing"
+ "briefly threatening to turn Glitter into the unlikeliest of party albums."
+ " the perfect album for humanity's rapidly dwindling attention span and escalating appetite for entertainment consumption"
This is apparently Janek Schaefer's 30th album in 20 years, a milestone which surprised me a bit, as there is a considerable portion of his oeuvre that I have not heard. That said, the handful of albums that I have heard have been kind of hit or miss, as Schaefer often errs a bit too much on the side of high-concept, cerebral sound art for my liking. Glitter In My Tears, however, is right up my alley: a sustained and hallucinatory fever dream of brief and frequently beautiful vignettes (or "microcosms of haunted memory," as Schaefer himself describes them). The inevitable downside to such an ambitious endeavour, of course, is that Glitter is exasperatingly populated with wonderfully promising themes that appear and vanish again in a minute or less. In most hands, that would be quite a big problem, but Glitter is so uniformly strong and flows along so fluidly that I am left with little time to lament the more substantial pieces that might have been. This is a wonderfully shifting, evocative, and immersive album from start to finish.
It would probably not be terribly far off the mark to state that almost any of Glitter In My Tears' 26 pieces would make a deceptive and non-representative opening piece, yet that somehow seems especially true of the actual opener, "Sparkles Into The Light of Night." The primary reason is that "Sparkles" stretches out for over six minutes, making it easily the lengthiest and most substantial piece on the entire album. It is a bit of a stylistic curveball as well though, resembling the sort of lazily swooping and space-y synth reverie that might turn up as an interlude on a late-period Pink Floyd album. Nothing else on Glitter comes at all close to fitting that description. In fact, the only remotely consistent thread to emerge from "Sparkles" is just that the bulk of the album is vaguely rooted in drone, even if Schaefer treats the genre a lot like a kaleidoscopic and surreal playground. Needless to say, Schaefer covers a lot of ground within those rough confines, but the strongest pieces in that vein are the lushly hissing thrum of “Beam Me Up,” the oscillating modular synth pulses of "Rise," and the oversaturated hyper-minimalism of "Reflection Waves." Similarly compelling yet somewhat different are Schaefer's eclectic and consistently wrong-footing experiments with loops. One of my favorites is the tragically brief "Hells Bells," which loops a crackling snippet of "The Nutcracker Suite" to impressively nightmarish effect. The unexpectedly funky and downbeat "What Comes Around" is yet another stand-out moment in loop fun, briefly threatening to turn Glitter into the unlikeliest of party albums.
There is also a third category encompassing vaguely neo-classical fare, such as the Satie-esque (if truncated) piano miniature "Looking For Love" and the heavy-bass-drone-meets-church-organ experimentation of "Low Points," though Schaefer only dabbles a little bit in that direction. He dabbles quite a bit more in an uncategorizable fourth category that can probably be best described as "gleefully weird, one-off mindfuckery," a theme exemplified by the one-two punch of the submerged and hallucinatory "Spells" seguing into the fitful and lurching saxophone/music box duet of "Dawn Draws In." The swirling and obsessive-sounding orchestral loop of "Lagoon" is yet another fine bit of aberrant disorientation, as is the blearily Caretaker-worthy big-band jazz of "Forgetting The Way Forward." That said, it is unquestionably "Tale of Two Angels" that takes home the prize for the single strangest interlude on the album. For one, there seems to be at least two very bizarre things happening at once: 1.) a saccharine and beatific harp motif that sounds plucked from a religious cartoon, and 2.) a microphone placed entirely too close to some gibbering, overexcited birds. There are some children's voices thrown into the mix as well, but the bigger twist is that the harp pattern unexpectedly turns its back on tranquility and bliss and descends into much darker and more melancholy waters without warning. It feels a lot like a hyper-real variation upon late-night, hypnagogic channel-surfing in which nothing at all seems to make sense.
Obviously, an album like Glitter In My Tears is bit of an inherently compromised endeavor, as the joy of having such an endless tide of promising ideas wash over me is tempered a bit by my occasional frustration at hearing a wonderful motif get cut short long before its time. "Beyond Hope" is the most striking example of the latter, as Schaefer creates an eerie and vaguely menacing soundscape of backwards piano that seems to fade in and out of focus, yet blithely traipses onward to the next idea after a mere minute. That particular feat admittedly made me want to scream, but Schaefer otherwise exercises relatively unerring judgment, keeping the album flowing briskly, (fairly) seamlessly, and unpredictably along without ever lingering on anything longer than he should. Failing to fully capitalize on good ideas feels like much less of a musical crime than being over-infatuated with weaker ones, but it must be said that Glitter is quite riddled with quickly abandoned one-minute flashes of inspiration. Normally, the pessimist in me would zero in on that "countless missed opportunities" aspect, but Schaefer ultimately won me over with the sheer volume of great material that he somehow managed to pack into this album. Admittedly, few pieces stick around for very long, yet it feels far more significant that I mentioned roughly a dozen individual pieces in this review and feel like I still probably missed a few of my favorites. Also, I wonder if this is an unwitting glimpse into the future, as collaging raw material for roughly four albums into an accelerated and condensed whirlwind of content feels like the perfect album for humanity's rapidly dwindling attention span and escalating appetite for entertainment consumption. As such, Glitter In My Tears may very well be a dark horse candidate for the most prophetic album of the year. If not, it is still quite an absorbing experiment.
Blow Up [Italian magazine]
The song fragmentations remind me of the Apex Twin ambient miniatures. But while they were schizophrenic and playful fragments, in Glitter in my tears we find some of the most wonderful and well worked jewels with which to adorn ourselves.
Glitter In My Tears is a frail delicacy, made of subtle nuances, elemental textures, and residual sounds. For me, this is nearly the definition of ambient minimalism, requiring attentive listening to appreciate all of the shades, scents, and sounds. This meditative sonic escape will reward the connoisseurs of aural fabric unravelers, as they pull on a string of a distant field recording, only to find its connection to the core of each dream. There is a total of twenty-six short tracks approaching on this 30th album for Schaefer, marking the 30th anniversary for this recording artist, with a proper celebratory release on Lawrence English’ Room40.
Over the course of an hour, Schaefer builds on loops, patterns, and drifting echoes, ranging from oblique sub-oceanic murmurs to orchestral pieces drowned in reverb. Short piano vignettes drift into the peripheral hearing, reminiscent of Satie’s eloquence, replaced by waves of deep atmospheres, melancholic abstractions, and something else… something else I can’t put my finger on, that simply makes me feel. “Each piece is a microcosm of haunted memory, […] an unfolding compendium of motifs and repetitive fragments, fading from the memories of our emotions, […] a subdued cathartic opus.” Here, individual stems of lost visions are spliced into a timeless passage of flexible weave, where Schaefer wraps subconscious awareness in a thick layer of soundscaped thought.
There is almost too much to describe on this record. With some pieces lasting barely a minute or two I am left with desire, a need, and a hunger for more. So instead I press play again, and each single moment evokes something prior, already committed to memory, or perhaps only there for a second, until, like a briefly lingering instant or perhaps even an entire lifetime, it flutters away. Recommended for fans of The Caretaker, William Basinski, Celer, Stephan Mathieu, Biosphere and Taylor Deupree.
Faze Magazine [germany]
Overall .. it recalls more diverse classic chill out albums from The Orb & KLF, which felt playful and less confined to one purpose or expression.
Janek Schaefer's music often has a veil of melancholy, maybe even something of nostalgia. With drones, loops of found sounds, the crack of vinyl, the slow settlement of compositions, he creates atmosphere and textures. On Glitter in My Tears, that's no different, even though the compositions are often surprisingly short. You could experience it as a collection of memories, patches that appear in your mind, loose images, a sensation of an atmosphere. Schaefer brings 26 small compositions he has made for many years together. Many abstract pieces of a few minutes, consisting of different wavy layers, drones and an organ-like line, or a short, repeated piano ball with Schaeferian vinyl crap, vibrating tones and bouncing drones. But also a sample of a disco-like drum rhythm and circling guitar sounds, a combination of a play-like melody and a wind instrument, field recordings.
The variety is great, the consistency and unity of the album as well. Why - with a few exceptions after - short duration? Was it unrest to work out the ideas? Would the ideas lose weight for longer periods? Are the sketches? That does not all sound like it. The small compositions are (almost) all very nice in themselves; The pieces are very enjoyable in their limited duration and concentration. Perhaps they are not always surprising or innovative, but highly skilled, by someone who knows how to appeal in all minimalism and atmosphere to a fascinating soundtrack. The interdependence - the construction of the whole is absolutely thoughtful - and the interaction is certainly an added value. Nevertheless, it must also be said: just because of that concentration, 26 are quite a lot. Choose to listen with a lot of attention. A bundle of bundles can not be read in a while.
Sigil of Brass
A sober, off-beat beauty of an album with real character . .
rich, slowly floating streams of sad, melancholic Ambient weeps to a tense spine-tingling effect.
A work that requires repeated and focused listening sessions to embrace it in all its detail and beauty.
. . . a quello di David Lynch!
The 26 tracks are all relatively short and covera multitude of emotions – from Sad to Joyful via Detached and Melancholic.
. . . Schaefer forgoes that altogether, essentially creating brief interludes of ambience that could almost be the pop song equivalents of, say,
Eno’s Music for Airports or one of The Caretaker’s albums. And yes, both those artists crop up as signposts along the way as one progresses
through Glitter in my Tears, as do the likes of William Basinski, Eleh, Stars of the Lid and “classical” or “modern” composers such as Erik Satie, Steve Reich and Morton Feldman.
His interest in found sound and his adeptness with a variety of textures is more than impressive, and the fact that he was an architect in a former life shows in his compositions.
Freistil magazine [Germany]
A most exquisite and diverse album, everything is just right. It's atmospheres move between artists like Fennesz and Boards Of Canada,
meaning complex sounds that densify and dismantle into dark atmospheres. Janek Schaefer is a definitive and exciting contemporary artist.
Needing time and attention, you will always be rewarded by this beautiful release!
Schaefer is obsessed with the textures, the atmospheres and the emotionality of acoustic states.
The British Ambient / Soundart veteran Janek Schaefer uses similar tools and tonal organizing principles like Templeton.
So hard cuts and confrontation of opposing elements, as well as noise and the moribund Lo-Fi sound of antique tape machines.
However, he combines these elements so quietly and discreetly that only the very finest,
most distant echo is extracted from the really coarse and brutal sound sources and is laid down in ambient tracks of fragile silence.
Schaefer's over-arching, twenty-six-track album Glitter In My Tears (Room 40) is something like his conclusion and a personal retrospective of 20 years of music and art production.
Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]
The challenging game of association of sounds and memories requires players capable of eliminating catchpenny humor altogether without transcending into “gratuitously miserable” orchestration. The latter word was chosen on purpose, for Janek Schaefer – a man who deals with aural remembrance since the beginning – seems over the years to have slightly changed his approach to composition. The foggy wholeness of nostalgic visions has become a veritable ensemble of mnemonic snapshots, each of them characterized by the voice of a spirit that can’t help looking back in mild unhappiness.
In this particular case, the reduced length of many of the 26 fragments attributing Glitter In My Tears its form prevents the listener from remaining fossilized within a mental frame. This album conveys a sense of uneasy sleep affected by regretful flashes and childhood-related retentions; more than in previous fluxes of dissolving unspoken feelings, Schaefer leaves a few acoustic details clearer, almost there to be memorized if only for a short while. He utilizes at best the mechanics of looping, managing to enhance a harmonic shade here and a glowing light there. At the same time, the music retains the engrossing qualities of sonic dispersion, projecting poignant echoes and staggering resonances that come and go – sometimes in a matter of seconds – against the stark walls of a future nobody looks forward to.
The composer writes “based on a true story” at the end of the liner notes. We never had a doubt about this. That story may very well be that of his own entire life to date, or just an episode giving impulse to the painful firmness shown by genuinely sensible beings when shallow people, or the circumstances of a crude reality, try to steal innocence from their innermost nucleus. In Schaefer’s work the escape route from bitter truth to fugitive alleviation – which, at any rate, always transits across profound somberness – is masterfully represented. A priceless aid, in this day and age.
Glitter Ιn Μy Τears» σηματοδοτε? την εικοστ? επ?τειο της πορε?ας του ?γγλου συνθ?τη και παραγωγο?, Janek Schaefer καθ?ς ?χει μ?χρι τ?ρα κυκλοφορ?σει 30 δ?σκους. Ως ευφ?νταστος αρχιτ?κτων εφαρμ?ζει την αισθητικ? του στους ?χους, κατασκευ?ζοντας απτ?ς ατμ?σφαιρες- εδ?, 26 βινι?τες- που κολυμπο?ν μ?σα απ? ακαθ?ριστες δομ?ς και διαστ?ματα για να εδραι?σουν ν?α μουσικ? τοπ?α. Γι’ αυτ?ν το μ?σο πα?ζει σπουδαι?τερο ρ?λο απ? το μ?νυμα και το ακουστικ? ?μπιεντ που χτ?ζει δημιουργε? σχ?ση αν?μεσα στο σ?μα, την τεχνοτροπ?α και τον ?χο ?τσι ?στε η συνεχ?ς μετ?πτωση των εντ?σεων να μην αφ?νουν χ?ρο για περαιτ?ρω σκ?ψεις, αλλ? για γκρ?ζα συναισθ?ματα.
a closer listen
Glitter in my tears is an unfulfilled promise, its life cut short time and again by daydreams had deep into the night. It marks the 20th anniversary of Janek Schaefer’s first release, perhaps mired in hopes lost by now, a way of looking back that reproduces the undetermined, shapeless form of memories slowly unwound over the years. According to the artist, “the album was composed over the last decade, in moments when most people are asleep in the dark, while the lucky ones are still dancing in the lights.” Evidently caught in-between, in a limbo of living death (or deathly living), Glitter is awash in undecidability, growing and fading in multiple directions at once, never quite achieving the concreteness of a drone or a specific ambience. Instead, it flows like a torrent of remembrances whose only overarching connection is a mixed feeling of sadness and joy, the shining warmth of loves lost and paths not taken.
The album is composed of many short pieces (26 in total, of which the longest is the first at 6 minutes of length) that often take common themes (like the Nutcracker Suite in “Hells Bells”) and collapses them kaleidoscopically upon themselves, allowing deviations of their commonplace emotional associations to emerge. The original story of the Nutcracker involved an enchanted dream in which a broken Christmas utensil became a handsome, heroic prince that saves a girl from vermin; a tale of romantic fulfillment later musicalized in a way we now traditionally associate with ‘sweet dreams’, it becomes in “Hells Bells” the repeating, driveling motif of a fading nightmare in which fulfillment is forever in escape, never able to complete the tune we all know by heart, always already slipping away from memory. We’ve all experienced troubled sleeping, with images darting incoherently at breakneck speed, the broken and withering records skipping so much we wake up in a sweat unable to remember anything. No wonder were sleep and death brothers in some Greek mythological accounts: the tears we shed while dreaming are opaque.
There’s an opposite side to this twisting of common themes, in the sense that there’s more than a few pieces which take a droning base that wears off the noisy edge, making them feel like music you’ve already heard elsewhere. It’s a bit like The Caretaker or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s approach in Love is a Stream, with anonymous, lovely melodies of romance fading in and out of electronic dissonance. Schaefer’s limbo swirls with hopes that turn into regrets and viceversa, a point at which memory is stranded between the obsidian of sleep and the starry-eyed dancing in the light, as in the transition from “What Comes Around” to “Distant Signs”, in which a simple disco beat dissolves in volume shifts that give way to a grating, quickly disappearing drone-like noise. Only in such a state of simultaneous flight and stagnation would tears have glitter – half-living, half- dead, trying to find the ashes of the future in the dark glow of a past that flickers in every reflection of the present’s mirror. Only in such an in-between place would you find the radiant beauty of fulfillment and loss brought together as one.