CHRISTOPHER T. SHARPE
Cameron Mesirow lays out the foundations of her enterprise early on in Interiors, each of the first three tracks entitled with a totemic, singular noun (‘Shape’, ‘Design’, ‘Landscape’). Such a pointed attempt to establish her thematic cornerstones from the off could perhaps be read as a reaction to the accusations of vagary, even formlessness, that accompanied her debut Ring. Far more forceful though, is the sense – reinforced by her overt discussions of anxiety in the towering corridors of New York – that Mesirow has a concrete, cohesive existential and artistic axe to grind under her Glasser guise, and she does so to frequently extraordinary effect on her second release.
Pervading the record is an examination of what it means to be both within and without in your emotional and physical landscape, surrounded yet isolated, a “formless knot tangled up in conflict”, pre-occupied by the human amongst the synthetic. Her surroundings shift in significance from a mirror for her internal state (“Is there a door to walk through? Is there a way out”), to a protective layer around it: “My room has no shape, nothing to sustain me / But it keeps me safe from imagined pain”.
Within this metamorphosing framework, visualized in the intimidating and entrapping fluid chrome of Interiors accompanying artwork, Mesirow strikes a compelling dynamic relationship between the central perspective and personality of Glasser (namely her vocals), and the concentrated digital mode of expression that dominates.
On ‘Forge’ for instance, the instrumentation drops out in the middle-section, leading to a moment of heightened ambiguity and significance. Are the vocals orchestrating and acting upon these swoops and clatters, or are they instead being acted upon, the instrumentation circling around, retreating and then charging in before finally soaring upwards?
Opener and key cut ‘Shape’ is lyrically concerned with being cut off by uncontrollable forces, against which Mesirow finds “all I can do is bow”. Musically this struggle translates into the industrial bass throbs that stomp through the icy terrain, yet for all their power, they’re constantly being wound around by the deft vocals loops and soaring melodies that are arranged around and against them.
Elsewhere, ‘Exposure’ toys with a single phrase “panoramic splash” so that it becomes a keystone for reinterpretation. Each repetition of the chorus has the phrase again, but it’s laden with alternating vocal effects on the lead, harmonising, or chorale vocals that deliver it. This experimentation around a single hook makes for a constantly unravelling, nuanced touch that both stands out from and elevates the song it lies within.
There’s countless other such moments of twists and adventure within the mazes formed and solved by this vocal-instrumental responsiveness: gasps and sniffs become organic percussion, and in the inverse, intermittent wooden percussion offers an alien chill, whilst snatches of woodwind and horn on ‘Window iii’ confuse and delight.
Interiors is a musical-architectural interpretation of the human body as an urban object, and the resulting listening experience is one with the constant opportunity to encounter the creative and unexpected. Rather like living a city. Or being human.
It’s especially entrancing when these traces and abstractions arise out of what on first listen can seem a fairly limited box of tools. This surface limitation though, is really just the outcome of Mesirow’s totality of thought on Interiors. Each song is like the floor of one grand apartment block, respectively containing individual quirks, textures and adornments, but confidently held within one overarching structure that’s rendered transparent and inviting by Mesirow’s buoyant and characterful guiding vocals.