“All This I Do For Glory” is a reasoning and exploration of the machinations of ambition and legacy, an examination of the concepts of afterlife, and the first half of a doomed love story in the model of the greek tragedies. As a narrative, it exists temporally somewhere between 2015’s “Never were the way she was” (with Sarah Neufeld) and the first volume of the NHW Trilogy.
With this, his first solo outing since 2013’s “To See More Light”, Colin Stetson ventures into territory both familiar and strange. Here still, is the dogmatically stripped down approach to performance and capture (all songs recorded live with no overdubs or loops) but there is an immediacy to the album that belies a more invasive and thorough miking of the various instruments being utilized and a seeming influence drawn from the early nineties electronica of artists like Aphex Twin and Autechre, evident in the more pointed role played by the instruments' many percussive elements.
There are ancestries, motivic and timbral, woven through these six songs that plainly anchor them within the shared universe of his Trilogy, though the overall experience is one of extreme intimacy, the sounds and imagery more tangible and immersive than previous offerings. The brief and brutal “In the clinches” recalls (or presages) echoes of songs like “Judges”, though now feeling like one has fallen down the bell of Stetson’s ancient bass saxophone itself. “Spindrift”, crystalline and serene, calls to mind the ambient works of Aphex Twin, while “Between Water and Wind” with it’s “Immigrant Song” swagger, relentlessly carves it’s way into the bedrock here, paving the way with an increasing focus on the minute and the minimal, with a deepened sense of patience shared by most of the album’s six tracks.
Engineered and mixed by Stetson himself, this album represents a decidedly independent approach across the entire creative process and finds him at the top of his game, both as a composer and instrumentalist as well as a producer.
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This album gurns and churns with the dense, atmospheric power of an angel wrestling the forces of hell.
Wolfe's voice is an ethereal swirl, but it can cut like a blade. Her guitar, meanwhile, is a reaper's scythe, and with it, she flails like a Balrog summoned deep and raging from the bowels of Middle Earth.
It's an album of dreams and nightmares, a sludge-gaze torrent of painful questions hurled into the void.
A brave, bold and empowering listen. Michael Mueller