Blank Gloss


Image of Blank Gloss - Cornered

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Sacramento, CA duo Blank Gloss’s third album, Cornered, is an exquisite statement of pop ambient starkness, an album that oscillates between lush beauty and spare melancholy. It follows from their 2021 debut for Kompakt, Melt, an album that saw Morgan Fox (piano, synths) and Patrick Hills (guitar) aligned, loosely, with the cosmic pastorale of the ‘ambient Americana’ movement. Cornered feels like a significant step forward, though – by peeling back the layers of their music, they’ve revealed both its restful core and its solemn gravitas. It is unendingly lovely, but with something disquieting at its centre.

Cornered was recorded quickly, over two days in December 2020. There’s nothing rushed or haphazard about the album, though; everything has its place, with each sonic element contributing profoundly to these nine miniature dioramas. It signals change, quietly but perceptibly, through the way the duo sculpts their material, building out of loose improvisations that morphed into songs. While there was no plan in mind when Blank Gloss settled into the studio, Fox recalls that “right away we realised that things were sounding and feeling a bit different than any of the sessions we had previously.”

That difference can be heard in the increased amount of space Blank Gloss gift to their sound sources. Some of the most moving moments on Cornered come when Fox and Hills strip everything back – see, for example, “Crossing”, which sets pensive piano across a shyly humming drone and quiet arcs of guitar, recalling the driftworks of Roger Eno. Curiously, the album’s distinctive shape and mood develops, at least in part, from a change in instrumentation, with Hills using a MIDI pick-up on his guitar. “This resulted in making things happen a lot quicker,” Fox says. “It also helped create what I think is a bit more sombre, dark feeling to some of the songs.”

Elsewhere, on songs like “Salt”, the piano tussles with flecks of guitar, single tones sent out to mingle with the stars, like Morricone at 16 RPM, while Cornered’s centrepiece, the eleven-minute “No Appetite”, lets long arcs of electronic texture breathe and sigh, tangling together in a cat’s cradle of bliss. Throughout, it feels as though the music is blossoming as you hear it, like watching time-lapse footage of flora in bloom. But perhaps the most seductive thing about Cornered is the sense you get, listening, that the music was something unexpected, a visitation. “It almost felt like we weren’t dictating where the music went and how it sounded,” Fox agrees. “We were just there in a room together in December and these sounds were happening, and we were lucky enough to be recording the process.”


1. Sender 00:03:44
2. Dusted 00:03:40
3. Get Well Soon 00:03:22
4. No Appetite 00:10:42
5. Soda Lake 00:04:59
6. Crossing 00:02:48
7. On The Ground 00:04:06
8. Salt 00:06:07
9. Dressed Alike 00:04:08

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