by Joe Mis
– Senior Columnist –
The Distorting Glass is a four-piece electronic rock act based in London, and their music is perhaps best described on the band’s own web site as “Faustian Rock” … Think Muse meets Trent Reznor meets William Blake in a dark alley.”
Founded in 2011 by sound engineer turned musician / vocalist Pablo Bellinghausen, The Distorting Glass has recently released their debut EP entitled The Germ. He is joined by Brits Ryan White (guitars) and Tom Granica (bass, ex-Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster), and Scottish drum prodigy Daniel Martin. For a young band, the guys of The Distorting Glass work surprisingly well together. Each member is a technically talented performer, and each contributes to the overall sound of the album, and no one is relegated to a back seat or mere supporting role.
The music of The Distorting Glass is definitely modern rock with a dark overtone, and there are surprisingly few keyboards and synths for a band that claims to be “electronic rock”. Lyrically, the band focuses on madness and creativity, and takes the listener down many a foggy London back street. Bellinghausen’s voice is well suited to the music. He does not have a large range, but he uses it well – moving from silky smooth to gritty intensity quickly and often. Ryan White is a solid guitarist, laying down some interesting hooks, complex rhythms and the occasional brilliant solo – without dominating the music with massive chops, although one gets the sense he truly could. Daniel Martin is a superb and flashy drummer capable of doing just about anything with the sticks. He also shows a surprising amount of control and restraint – keeping his work matches to the tone of the music. Tom Granica’s bass is very effective and his love of effects pedals can be heard, but he does not allow the electronic distortions to interfere with his technical ability.
“Kilomètre Zéro” is probably the musical highlight of the EP. This track allows Bellinghausen to explore his full vocal range, and features White’s best guitar licks. The rhythms are complex and highlight the teamwork and technical abilities of Martin and Granica. The murky lyrics are quite poetic in a medieval sort of way, and conjure up some vivid images. The near-tribal drum work on “Fear and Wonder” best illustrates the massive talent of Daniel Martin, and the rest of the band manages to keep up nicely while handling the prog style tempo changes with a sure touch. The simple and effective lyrics to “The City That Always Sleeps” paint a wonderful and easily imagined picture of both place (a cemetery) and situation – illustrating the band’s songwriting skills. The mix and engineering are fairly good, although at times the vocals could use just a bit more volume.
Overall The Distorting Glass has put out a fine debut EP. This act is more than electronic rock or art rock – it is more like a darker, harder entry into the singer / storyteller genre. Musically solid and lyrically dense (there are a number of relatively obscure literary and classical references sprinkled throughout), The Germ will hopefully serve in the biological sense and be a seed that leads to even bigger and better things. The closing line of “The City That Always Sleeps” is “Art in every action is forever carved in stone,” and it seems that The Distorting Glass takes that to heart.
Genre: Electronic Rock
Pablo Bellinghausen (vocals, keyboards, guitar)
Ryan White (guitar)
Daniel Martin (drums)
Tom Granica (bass)
2. Kilomètre Zéro
3. Fear and Wonder
4. The City that Always Sleeps
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10