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Ramases - Glass Top Coffin CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.72 | 28 ratings

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5 stars After your death your body's placed in a coffin whose lid is made entirely of transparent glass, a "glass-top coffin" if you will. Dead, you can't move a muscle- but the world continues anyway. People walk their walk of life and society moves on without you. Your friends slowly forget about you, and even the memory you've put in the minds of your family becomes hazy. The only imprint of you that you've put on this earth slowly gets pulled away by time, the unstoppable enemy. The worst part? Your dead eyes see every bit of it. You can see through your coffin, right?

A terrifying prospect, is it not? Well Britain's nutcase duo named their second work after it. You may have heard the name Space Hymns somewhere circulated about the rock circle during the 90's, along with the tragic but also sort of poetic death of Kimberly Barrington Frost. The truth is a year before his death Frost and his wife Dorothy Laflin released a second album titled Glass Top Coffin. This certain release is very different compared to Space Hymns, as it features a completely different tone compared to it's predecessor. While many chastise Hymns for being amateur and very disjointed (at least those were my criticisms), Glass Top is completely different.

Sure, it may sound very similar, but when you get down to it's not. Glass Top is far more refined, infinitely more mature, and there is a tinge of tragedy to it. You see, Laflin and Frost both thought themselves to be the descendants of the gods Ramses and Serket from Egyptian mythology. This was happily expressed and flaunted on Space Hymns, and to many people's distaste. Four years pass however after a slew of unsuccess came with Hymns' release in '71. This is complete conjecture, but it is my belief that there was a moment of epiphany for the two, a realization that they weren't living in some dream where they could say they were godsends and that would be the word of law. This epiphany I believe started some time after Space Hymns ('73 or '74) and ended with Frost's death in '76. If we take this as true this album becomes a whole lot more meaningful, as it occupies that middle space in time shortly before Frost went into a state of isolation and disconsolation. Now after we've laid that base, let's actually take a look at the album.

Glass Top Coffin, like I said before, is much more mature in structure than the meandering Space Hymns. The songs are quieter and more secluded, and do not tend to become too energetic. Even at times where you feel the album should kick up a notch it does so very slightly (with the exception of the upbeat rocking title-track). Also noticed is a certain, dark motif that comes to light during the album, and that is one of death and solitude. These may not seem clear at first, for they are a bit cryptic and/or minimalist in nature. Some of the more clear cut examples of this are 'Only the Loneliest Feeling', a short, atmospheric tune consisting only of ambient sound and a lone warbling falsetto by Frost. The opener 'Golden Landing' is a soaring almost angelic strings/choral piece that's tinged with a sense of dread, which is very strange for an opening. But of all these the most interesting I found was 'Sweet Reason', a wonderful tune where, like before, has a tinge of sorrow in it. Here Frost inquires to the listener their thoughts of certain aspects of life, including friends, family, nature, and of course, those passed away. It really is a bittersweet tune that actually brought me close to tears at one point. Even the rocking title track I mentioned before, 'Glass Top Coffin', ends with an almost manic but completely flustered intensity, something not expected by a happy-go-lucky song you thought it would be in the beginning, only to abruptly bleed into 'Golden Landing, Pt. 2', which marks the end to our long journey. It ends with the tumultuous words of Frost: "I can see! / I can feel! / I can breathe! / I'm still myself!".

This is already way longer than I would have wanted, but it is an album that truly deserves more respect. Sure it's not particularly a 'concept album', but it's main theme is executed so well that I am in haste to recommend it. If you're looking for examples of music that transcend boundaries, then this is one for the books. Check it out.

aglasshouse | 5/5 |


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