While the album was written well before it began, Glass by the UK based duo tAngerinecAt seems in everything to breathe the caustic anxiety and darkness of the current war in Ukraine. Glass shatters to the floor throughout the album on more than one occasion, symbolizing destruction and death, while the eerie post-goth atmosphere on the album smells of bombed buildings and cities emptied of all humanity.
It’s not so strange that an album by tAngerinecAt would have a Ukrainian vibe, both members Eugene and Paul have strong ties to the country having either been born there or lived there for a long time. They have also toured the country and region extensively. Vocalist Eugene has a distinctive accent when he sings, which gives the album its character.
The music is very hard to pinpoint exactly, but it balances somewhere on a tightrope between electronic goth dance like Anne Clark, dark ritualistic music, dark action movie music, and absolute self-minded avantgarde art rock. The main atmosphere is quite bleak, but there is also room to dance, to ponder, and most of the songs are actually quite catchy.
Glass is a unique experience, and an album with a strong urgency and feel for current times. Adventurous minds are highly recommended to take a peek…
Once again, I had the pleasure of talking to Paul and Eugene. I just had to ask them about Glass and the connection to current events. This is what they said:
-The album feels strongly like a concept album, can you describe what glass, and especially the breaking of glass represents for you? What is the overall feeling you got when creating the album?
Paul: The concept for Glass came after we created Something Broke Inside. In this song we used a breaking glass sound that we had recorded while smashing a bottle on a stone floor. The concept of shattered glass fragments came to represent Eugene’s story of struggling to survive, heal and thrive.
Eugene: Glass is a human’s life and self shattered into shards. Every song on the album is a different story and like another razor-sharp shard of glass.
Each track is saturated with different, sometimes contradictory, feelings. But the general background could be described with the words (translated by us) of the Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus:
You were raised on rage. Now
You won’t find peace from it,
It will grow and grow, until
The prison doors fall.
I feel like his words echo the lines from the last song of the album Spell. This incantation is the essence of protection and solidarity, glorifying the survivors of state persecution, war, famine, severe trauma, repression, and other forms of ghastly suffering:
Not to burn in the fire
Nor freeze in the chill
Nor be soaked in the rain
Nor lost in the fog
To see in the dark
Like a bird take flight
And not to die.
-Having strong ties to The Ukraine, I can imagine you have strong feelings about the invasion and the ongoing war, what have been your experiences so far? Do you have a lot of contact with people there still?
Paul: I have been in contact daily with a number of friends and have been emotional very involved. I got up at 5am every day to check my messages to see if everyone was alive. Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to reply to people who are literally sheltering from bombs. I have been following the travels of my friends who have left the country or have been internally displaced. I try to be as much help and encouragement as I can. My friends asked me to be on watch for them because there was fighting very close to their house. We agreed they would contact me at 12 noon every day. If they didn’t contact me I had a list of emergency numbers to call so I could tell rescuers where they are located and how many people are there. Thankfully they are in a safer place now, but they had to evacuate from their home and move to another part of the country.
Eugene: I have family and friends in Ukraine. Some of them are refugees now and some are still in Ukraine and their towns are being bombed right now. One photographer that took photos of LGBTQ and anarchist protest actions that I attended in Kyiv was recently killed by Russians. I was devastated back in 2014 when Russia first attacked Ukraine and I expected that they would go further but of course I always hoped that it wouldn’t happen so this was the most terrible news for me and I feel like all my life has changed since. It’s especially painful to see photos of what was once dear to you totally destroyed and awful images of mutilated civilians, and hear about mass raping of women and children.
-Personally it mostly made me feel very helpless. Do you have any suggestions what people should do that would be helpful to the situation?
Paul: First of all, I would like to say not to make things worse. I have seen people spreading slander and propaganda against Ukrainians. I will never forgive them for that. Ukrainians often felt abandoned by the whole world and even now when there has been a lot of media coverage they are still fighting alone against the Russian invasion. They need NATO to close the sky over Ukraine or at least aircraft to defend themselves, and this is what they are asking for constantly.
Eugene: Ukrainians are fighting fiercely and they can’t lose. But it’s at a great cost and there is a possibility that Russia could also attack other bordering countries, so I agree with Paul. And the world definitely needs to put tougher sanctions on Russia, otherwise we can expect worldwide terrorism connected to energy dependence on Russia who are trying to reach their imperialist goals threatening the world with nuclear weapons.
-Will the conflict (War-ed.) have a great influence on yourselves as a person or on the band as a vehicle for your feelings and thoughts?
Paul: It has definitely changed things. There has been a long shadow looming for sometime but still I never expected the scale of what happened or the amount of indiscriminate war crimes by Russian soldiers against civilians and soldiers alike. A lot of people in UK have shown their solidarity with Ukraine but many surprisingly haven’t and there has also been a lot of propaganda directed against Ukrainians. I was also shocked by both the lack of reaction and total lack of empathy from Russians and by how many actually wholeheartedly support the destruction of Ukraine. After this it isn’t possible to just go back to how things were. It really made me realise who my friends are.
Eugene: It’s a war, not a conflict. In a conflict there is equal responsibility between the two parties involved. But there is only one outside aggressor and it’s Russia. Protest against Russian imperialism and genocide of Ukrainians has always been integral to our music. I wrote poetry against Russian imperialism from ten years old. We searched for witnesses and interviewed Ukrainians who were in Gulags. After and because of one of these interviews tAngerinecAt was born. Also there are a lot witnesses from my family. So, it’s always been something very personal for me and it is a central theme to all our creations. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much solidarity in the UK, and this speaks of how little people know about the part of the world where I was born and raised and we need the voices of Ukrainians to finally be heard. Of course, isolation, lack of solidarity, silencing and even hate on the grounds of my nationality lead to re-traumatization and this made our music even «darker». Despite all the tracks on Glass being written before the full scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, it could be called a prelude to the catastrophe that we now face and in some way a prediction of it. There is a track called Hereafter. It has a more global context but was produced recently under the shadow of feelings about impending war. We wanted to call it Forthcoming originally.