"Mahal" - Glass Beams Album Review by Ethan Rebalkin for Nothern Transmissions



Glass Beams

The Melbourne-based trio Glass Beams share a timeless, psych-tinged melding of cultures and sounds on their sophomore EP Mahal.

After the success of their debut EP Mirage, Glass Beams amplified their sound to the global stage via a rigorous 2023 touring schedule. Having only their Mirage EP released, Glass Beams would perform an additional 20 minutes of “unreleased tracks” at their shows. Once back home, they retreated into their home studio, where these unreleased tracks would shape into the Mahal EP.

“Horizon” introduces the EP with a tepid, reverberated guitar lead, before being counted into the titular track “Mahal.” Shuffling drums, shimmering percussion, and swells of vocal harmonies surround a weaving guitar on this track.

Glass Beams have said that an early inspiration for them was the “Concert for George” tribute concert recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall, a star-studded tribute to late Beatles member George Harrision. The concert recording featured legendary Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar with daughter Anoushka, alongside Western rock icons like Paul McCartney and Jeff Lynne. This melding of Western with Eastern Culture is what heavily inspired founding member Rajan Silva, who’s quoted Indian artists like Ananda Shankar, Kalyanji-Anandji and R.D. Burman was a big influence for them. I think when you listen to Glass Beams you can hear all these influences on full display. As a listener, I noticed a lot of the production and sonic palettes leaning more heavily on Western habits, while the rhythms and scale-modes, more Eastern.

An irresistible bass groove leads the way on “Orb,” an upbeat, meditative, psych-track. I love all the sound-stage effects you can find on this tune. Loads of vocal samples, sitar strums and an endless wave of percussion sedates you, then leaves you to the mercy of the jagged guitar lead.

“Snake Oil” might be the most truly-meditative cut from the Mahal EP. Sparkling sitar and lush vocals lull you into a stupor, while the hammering-on and pulling-off of the guitar take you on a journey through Glass Beams world. Without any lyrics in this band, you need to rely heavily on the melodies of the instrumentation to tell a story, a sometimes daunting task. For a band that is only two EPs old, this is a craft that they already excel at. “Black Sand” is the last song on Mahal. Wah-wah guitars, sitar sirens and a ceaseless bass pocket keep this track incessantly engaging. Perhaps the most guitar-forward song on the EP, “Black Sand” is another gnarly head-nodder that leaves you itching to give the Mahal EP another spin.

Stream Mahal HERE.

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