Thursday 19 February 2015

Review: G.L.O.W. – 'Emotions' / 'Myths And Legends'

'Emotions' / 'Myths And Legends'

G.L.O.W. AKA General Language of Oscillating Wisdom is the solo musical vehicle of South African artist Richard Wheeler. With its feet firmly in the ebm genre, G.L.O.W. is crammed full of melodic synth leads and big dance friendly beats but maintains a darker electro-industrial edge throughout. With two albums under his belt so far in the forms of 'Emotions' and 'Myths And Legends', Wheeler is steadily building his presence not only in his native scene, but also further afield.

'Emotions' is Wheeler's first full length outing under the G.L.O.W. moniker. Recalling acts such as Icon Of Coil, Grendel and VNV Nation songs such as 'Anger', 'Find A Way Out', 'Levitate', 'Perpetuation' and 'Plastic' provide the album with a solid backbone of strong rhythmically pleasing ebm. There is always an experimental edge to the tracks as well with Wheeler throwing in industrial, trip-hop, synthpop and even dubstep elements into the tracks to keep things fresh.

It's a fairly solid album with some interesting musical directions followed. But it is let down by the production, which is flat and very rough. And that is a major shame as 'Emotions', as a first outing displays a lot of promise.

Fast-forward to 'Myths And Legends' and we see wheeler pushing a far more polished product in order to solidify his presence. Again the influences of Icon Of Coil, Grendel and VNV Nation are plain to here across songs like 'Aigamuchab', 'Flying Dutchman (Final Quest)', 'Impundulu', 'Mafeking Terrace' and 'Yisipoki'. There are even a few world music influences thrown in that really elevate the quality of the song writing.

Again the quality of the production is an issue. Although there is a noticeable improvement over 'Emotions', it is still not as strong as it could be. In particular the way the vocals are mixed doesn't sit right and sometimes the top end of the tracks just swamps the rest of the mix. However as a natural progression from the first album 'Myths And Legends' is a step in the right direction with its stronger song-writing and slicker execution.

G.L.O.W. may still be making its first steps as an act, but across both 'Emotions' and 'Myths And Legends' there is a strong sense of the individuality of Wheeler's sound and a noticeable progression in the quality of the songs. Held back only by the limited production, there is a lot of potential on display here that will hopefully be realised on a third outing.  

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