In a series of promotional photos accompanying Glasser’s debut album Ring, Cameron Mesirow is submerged beneath the surface of what, most likely, is a swimming pool. She doesn’t appear overly playful, but rather peacefully, ethereally suspended, as if part of the aqueous environment that surrounds her. Though sometimes a photo shoot is just that, here, the images translate to a visual interpretation of the music that Mesirow creates. It’s immersive music, embracing the listener with its fluid warmth. It’s not so much a performance as it is an aural baptism.
Mesirow, daughter of a Blue Man and a member of Human Sexual Response, has been likened to a “one-woman orchestra,” and with good reason. Though the GarageBand recordings comprising her early singles and EPs showed great promise from the Los Angeles songbird, the recordings on Ring inhabit a much more vivid and elaborate sonic landscape. With production work from Ariel Rechtshaid, Van Rivers and The Subliminal Kid, her beats crash and pop, and her synths flutter and soar, while her vocals allure and mystify.
The nine songs that make up Ring flow in a seamless fashion, impeccably sequenced and each forming their own essential segment to a greater, circular whole. Yet, paradoxically, Ring is also the odd album that works perfectly well on shuffle, an admirable, even utilitarian trait, reflecting shifts in listening habits, but on a more high-minded scale, representing a “ring” within the album itself. That said, the order in which the songs are presented creates a stunning linear sequence.
Early single “Apply” is as powerfully mysterious as leadoff tracks come. It stomps and stalks with tribal percussion and an ominous bass throb, escalating toward Mesirow’s wordless choruses of whoops and shrieks, offering an alarming counterpoint to her softly hypnotic verses. This backs up against second single “Home,” a simpler, marimba-driven standout that swells into a string driven chorus that recalls Björk’s Homogenic. Her passionate delivery of the song’s title reflects the comfort and longing that the feeling of home inspires, but her verses display a sweetly delivered strain of cynicism: “Naturally collapsing/ our homes and beds and wedding rings.”
Mesirow delves into African influences on “Plane Temp,” and stirs up a subtly powerful torch song in “T,” an exotic and sensual highlight that gently unfolds but never escalates far beyond its blissful state. A sinister kind of ambience returns with “Tremel,” in which Mesirow’s watery imagery grows more eerie, as she sings “We know how the current can feel like the breathing of watery ghosts.” One of the album’s most exciting spots arrives on the heavier, more danceable “Mirrorage,” which pulses beneath varied chimes and Mesirow’s rhetorical refrain, “Can I trust in you?” It’s positively chill inducing.
Following the playful experimentation in “Treasury of We” and “Clamour,” the beats that kick off “Apply” start up again, and the cycle inevitably reaches its second revolution. It’s a neat aesthetic choice, but also one that works brilliantly. Rather than act as an album that starts in one place and ends in another, Ring is like an endless stream of gorgeous music, one that blissfully carries the listener through its spectral current.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.