Double take: Glows in the Dark

Composer and guitarist Scott Burton’s compositions drip with drama, but it’s input from the entire band that makes everything go. On Sunday and Monday nights, Glows in the Dark brought their cinematic music to the stage.

At Commercial Taphouse on Sunday night, Glows in the Dark tucked into the bar’s back corner playing music suggestive of spy films, apocalyptic comic strips, and crime. Last night on Balliceaux’s new stage, they performed the music of 70s Italian soundtrack composers with the films on the wall as their backdrop. Less was left to the imagination of the audience, and the presentation of the video with the music provided for a totally different experience.

I learn more and more every time I hear Glows in the Dark, and each little discovery makes me wait eagerly for the next one. At the Taphouse, I couldn’t help but explore their music’s relationship with film. It’s partially the notion they put in my head with, for example, their constant homages to film scorers of the past (see Monday night). On the other hand, their music just seems to be made for film.

Composer and guitarist Scott Burton’s compositions drip with drama, but it’s input from the entire band that makes everything go. “I really like ideas from everyone in the band,” he’s told us in the past. “It’s a lot like being a film director: everyone has ideas and you just have to pick the best ones.”

At times when a soloist is playing over a building groove — like trombonist Reggie Pace, saxophonist John Lilley, or bassist Cameron Ralston weaving their stories into the fabric — I like to picture the improviser as a character of a film, the rest of the band the musical backdrop. The importance of the individual comes to the forefront like the acting abilities of a film’s main character while the rest of the cast are just as important to the work as a whole.

Their intense free jazz freak outs (like Burton and drummer Scott Clark’s episode in their own “Through A Glass Darkly” on Monday night) can be less chaotic than others of its kind. There’s often a continuity that speaks more to extended conflict than all-out madness. The madness is there when it needs to be, but their great control helps their stories grow.

Much of their music follows the same structure a good story would. Granted, so does a lot of music like it. The difference here is in the undeniable sense of narrative in Burton’s and the band’s compositions. All parts of the story are strong: the exposition is suggestive of things to come, the climax rises to unimaginable heights, and the falling action is dramatic as could be. But what caps off many of the tunes as great pieces of music is in the resolution. New themes emerge, subdued in energy but rich with poignancy and emotion, and sometimes defeat. It leaves the listener physically yearning for another go.

At Balliceaux, car chases, dirt bikes going over massive jumps, and lots of frontal nudity accompanied Glows in the Dark’s arrangements of soundtracks from the period. They reaffirmed any suspicions that their music is suitable for film. Film buff Burton has a deep knowledge of the style (both the cinematography and music) that suggests that good fortune isn’t all that’s at hand when it comes to their film-influenced music. Years of studying, practicing, and crafting his band’s sound has created a package full of imagery with a story to tell.

  • error

    Report an error

Dean Christesen

There are no reader comments. Add yours.