The Sight Below: Glider

Warning: Not to be mistaken for wallpaper.

The Sight Below


Label: Ghostly International
UK Release Date: Available as import
US Release Date: 2008-11-11

Under Seattle's largely grey skies, the musician behind the Sight Below challenges the conventions of ambient techno with his guitar. Glider's nine songs follow three previously released free ones from the Sight Below, who plies lethargic, long-delayed guitar lines with an ever-so-gentle kick. Glider' s pattern is immediate: whether it was named after the My Bloody Valentine EP or not (theirs is incidentally louder), these shoegaze-friendly compositions eventually become so serene, they're almost part of the room. And then they wash away.

The Sight Below's No Place for Us EP, made available as a free download at Ghostly International's website this year, is a luminous precursor to Glider. The EP's tracks are slightly more fuzzy than those on the subsequent album. Not a single ringing note is allowed to permeate the wall of haze on No Place, except for an infrequent appearance of a piano melody during "Twice Failed". The Sight Below's perpetual hiss and occasional interplay of crackling rain-against-the-window sounds here, particularly on "Twice Failed", make for a displacing listen that nods fondly in the direction of the DeepChord Presents: Echospace recordings. No Place grows more captivating every time I visit its three dense tracks, and the full-length, with a couple of exceptions, has yet to grow on me in the manner that the EP has. It is more mysterious than Glider, presenting a swirling wall of looped and reverberating textures that don't seem to offer a blueprint of any kind. Although the follow-up calls from the same place, the full-length is more often representative of its parts. The guitar at Glider's core is discernible in the bent tones overtop "Life's Fading Light", as well as in the long-lingering slide accompaniment in "Further Away."

The Sight Below's tracks rarely present a break from an ongoing deceptive blur of stationary sound. "At First Touch" is an opener so nonchalant that you almost forget it's there. Its calming surge, barely changing shape other than to retreat, is suspended by little more than an unobtrusive kick drum and muted hi-hats. "Without Motion" is just as magnificently aloof, spun with haunting, flickering washes that crest seconds before the four-minute mark, and drop out almost immediately afterward. While these are all qualifiers for its place on the next Kompakt Pop Ambient collection, and definitely make a good case for the oncoming comparisons to the Field's evocative From Here We Go Sublime LP, Glider is far more entrenched in an organic sound, with its gloom owing to winding guitar rather than to pronounced looping samples. It isn't easy to soak in this still music at first, but when you're able to spend some time with it, the reward is quite bountiful. One should pay close attention to the aptly named "Further Away", if not for the echoing strands of the Sight Below's stammering single notes, then for a formula that seems blatantly connected to its romantic title.

Like the bulk of Glider's woozy pieces, "Further Away" moves slowly into earshot, this time with no percussion, on a sea of back-corner shuffling and very dim cathedral bell sounds. Almost everything is distant on this one; the "lead" guitar picking (though hardly staged in a pattern of any kind) is the most noticeable element at work, but it's nearly drowned out by the radiator whoosh, which glazes over all of it by its adjournment as all the other working pieces are phased out. Alongside Grouper or Eluvium in the Music That Just Hangs There genre, Glider's majestic 49 minutes sit, despite the percussive knock at the base of most of these tracks, never quite getting up. And then they wash away.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.