The Glass Pavilion is the solo instrumental project of Leeds-based former York University student Ashley Owens. It emerged as the silver lining to a medically-induced retirement from guitar playing for Ashley, forcing a move into electronic sounds. His new album is called When The Blazing Sun Is Gone.
By Graeme Smith
Though electronic in nature, When The Blazing Sun Is Gone fits more nicely in the post-rock or psychedelic rock genres. With expansive, slow-building arrangements and synths that channel the effect of distorted guitars.
The album opens with a pensive, minimal Lighthouse I before easing into the gentle, melodic groove of Signs & Wonders. Void of vocals or lyrics, it still tells a story, one that feels like seeing the world around you for the first time.
It perhaps reflects Ashley’s personal story. After coming close to death from a ruptured aneurysm in his brain, followed by years of subsequent surgery, he all but gave up on music. Through the grief caused by the death of his father and the isolation of lockdown, he found his way back to it with a new, instrumental voice.
Track three is Charlotte (Aurora). It opens hauntingly, with echoing notes that imply both loss and hope. The complexity of the looping melody grows, is then joined by bass, before final exploding into soundscape that is equal parts light and dark.
It fades out to the ethereal Open To The Sky. Infused with a sense of embracing new beginnings, it has the sense of an auditory road trip (or perhaps air trip?) After an initial phase of rising, the track hits its stride in its mid-section through echoing plucked notes and delicate percussion.
Tracks four and five are a pair of relatively short numbers – Winter Gardens and Lighthouse II. I say short, but only compared to the sprawling odysseys that compare before and after them. Winter Gardens strikes a mysterious, carnivalesque note while Lighthouse II returns to the pensiveness of the album opener, adding in layers of melancholy and reflection.
Everything that has come before feels like the prelude to the album’s closer The Most Glorious Birds. At over fifteen minutes long, Ashley has certainly flexed his creative muscles with it. Starting with a classic rock sound that invokes early Fleetwood Mac and mid-career Leonard Cohen, its a piece that takes you on a journey from ’60s gospel to 21st century post-rock a la Explosions In The Sky.
When The Blazing Sun Is Gone is such an accomplished and personal collection from a local artist who I’m looking to hear more from. You can check out the whole album below.