(All Album Reviews by Jonathan Pine)
Cor Cordium (Latin: "Heart of Hearts") is the latest studio album of Glass Hammer. I put this album into my CD-player, and... Within 20 seconds or so the music sends me... Where exactly ? Well, frankly speaking, into a Prog Rock kingdom. The music is based on a solid rhythmic section with accented bass guitar and excellent guitar and keys. After about two minutes gentle vocal joins. Déjà vu?
Well, not exactly, but I feel as if I were listening to some top notch band of the 1970s who by some miracle managed to escape from running out of ideas, becoming commercial and from other calamities awaiting for Prog musicians in advanced age. In terms of sound there is one group from that period that particularly comes to mind. Yes, I mean Yes.
What does GH have to do with Yes? Similarly complex arrangements sparkling with pure beauty, strong bass, (that brings to life my floor loudspeakers) and angelic vocals including excellent vocal harmonies. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to conclude that GH spent the 62 minutes of this album imitating the famous band. Actually, Glass Hammer is far from that. From the first track to the closing one these guys walk on their own musical path. The album is full of nice arrangements and such ideas. No way covering Yes. Yes could have been a musical inspiration (BTW a great choice isn’t it?) but somewhere they found their own way.
With no overdose of heavy keyboards the music seems to be lighter without pretense. Almost, folk-like. This album is my love from first listening yet complex arrangements make each spin an exciting experience. The longer I listen to this CD the more delicate the music seems to be, with gorgeous passages of acoustic guitars and piano. In track 4, "Dear Daddy", a violin and viola join to present a fascinating interplay. This song lyrically is a kind of a grown up son's monologue addressed to his father. A bitter monologue I must say.
The lyrics appear to be more approachable. From the start to finish I realize what is on the GH lyrical agenda, which is fine with me. Perhaps with other listeners who are not in favor of poetic mumbo jumbo too. Without an exasperation I could say that texts on Cor Cordium reflect different relationships between people from love and the comfort of solitude ("Nothing Box") through sarcastic pictures of those who believe in salvation with the help of religious broadcasting to the searching of God and real values ("To Someone"):
"Some say God's not talking
But with people running everywhere
Who is actually listening
Tell me are we really that unaware
Street smart, shopping rollers."
Yet the most moving songwriting has the piece No 4, "Dear Daddy", describing very difficult relationships between a son and his father. Though the childhood memories from the son's perspective do include some happy moments connected with his father:
"The endless summer days at the beach.
As you lifted me over the waves and held me so high
It was then that I could believe
I believed I could fly..."
Yet the overall picture is rather bitter as the two are far away from each other:
"Wish you could know me now
We'd be great friends"
Listening to GH’s latest release I wonder if there is room for an honest album in this post Matrix era of downloading everything from everywhere. Certainly, for me there is and this CD is proof of that. To sum up Cor Cordium, is the album that has really won my heart. I would recommend it to any prog rock lover... I do not want to sound pompous here but, as Michael Nolan put it: "there are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart...pursue those."