On the back of stunning new offerings Waiting Up and Paine , rising Indiana-born, Chicago-based musician Glded ( Ben Harper) today releases his new EP Moraine . An introspective electronic indie body of work showcasing Harper’s lovingly crafted production and the worn intimacy of his vocals, Moraine serves as further reminder to add Glded to your ones to watch list.
A body of work inspired by Harper’s travels across the stunning landscapes of Patagonia and the glacial majesty of Iceland, Moraine is a spellbinding trip into Harper’s experiences. Look out for more information there.
If the last few turbulent months have taught us anything, it’s that the beauty of the outside world and the rich rewards gained from moving freely within it aren’t things to be taken for granted.
It’s a lesson that Ben Harper – aka Indiana-born, Chicago-based musician Glded – has known for a long while. Drawing influence from the sights and sounds encountered over years of active, adventurous travelling, his music is less indebted to a specific set of artists than it is to a specific set of experiences: a stint trekking through the vast, stunning landscapes of Patagonia, or a trip spent taking in the glacial majesty of Iceland.
As such, his work as Glded – a project that began in earnest five years ago when he moved to the city – might technically be comprised of electronic textures and acoustic guitars, but more than that, it’s about an atmosphere, an attempt to convey that feeling of standing somewhere gorgeous on the other side of the world somehow within song. “Sigur Ros are one of my favourite bands, and I remember them once saying something like, ‘How could you not write this type of music if you’re living here and looking out at this when you’re recording?” Ben recalls. “And that’s similar to how I feel. When I’m writing and recording, I’m thinking about those colors and landscapes.”
Growing up in a suburb of Indiana, Harper’s childhood was less vibrant. He describes the homogenous culture of his hometown as one where “there were few platforms to create and share music” . Having begun to pick up first bass guitar and then acoustic guitar in his teens, it was only when the late-’00s alternative folk scene (Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine) arrived that he began to think of music as something that he could viably take slightly more seriously. “It gave me a template for what was possible with just an acoustic guitar and some knowhow of writing songs,” he explains. “Those songs brought a nostalgia; they made me feel centred and at home. They had these organic elements that put you at ease and are reflective of coming from a small town and having an insular way of life.”
It wasn’t until several years later, having moved away and with space to dabble more heavily with Logic and learn the recording and production skills needed to be a self-contained artist, however that the elements that now define Glded would fully come together. The aim, Harper explains, is “to fuse the analogue and the digital, and the organic and the synthetic”. “When you boil it down, Glded is an electronic music project,” he continues, “but what I want to do is meld the organic, acoustic instrumentation with those electronic elements, samples and drum machines.”
You can hear that ethos coming through on the warm, layered tracks that made up 2018 EP ‘Transmissions and Yours Truly’ – ones where the influence of a modern wave of singer-producers such as James Blake and Chet Faker hovered as clearly as those more historical folk favorites. Now, it’s one he’s honed even further on new EP ‘Moraine’.
Named after the geological process of glaciers moving, and recorded in the wake of those two pivotal trips, it’s an album that paints an expressive, evocative picture, from the delicately-plucked strings of ‘Face Down’ to the lush, closing slow-build of ‘Rensselaer’. “I was inspired by the vastness of the area in Patagonia and the variety of landscapes – mountains, glaciers, creeks. It’s kind of like walking on Mars; it’s so different from anything I’ve ever experienced before,” explains Ben. “The juxtaposition between organic elements like rock and eerily bright blue and white ice; the way those two look next to each other. And also the ubiquity of beauty there. Everywhere that you look is just incredibly amazing, from the vistas down to just looking at the ground anywhere, where there’ll be beautiful prairie flowers.”
The EP itself comes co-signed by Nice Work – the Chicago-based record label helmed by acclaimed manager Pat Corcoran, who Harper credits as being “instrumental in helping my music go from a thousand streams to millions of streams”. Because, while Glded is certainly a musician doing it for the right reasons – to make something beautiful, that hopefully will have a “positive impact” both on his listeners and himself – he’s also ambitious beneath it all, too. And, having entirely taught himself over years of self-motivated work, seeking out inspiration from across the globe and using it to squash any notion that someone from his small town can’t make a far larger creative mark, Ben Harper has earned the validation of having increasingly more people in his corner.
“There’s one lyric on [EP track] ‘Paine’ that goes, ‘Show me a photo of how we’ve grown’ which I think gets to the core of the record,” he decides of ‘Moraine’. “When you’re in a routine, you don’t necessarily know that it’s going on. But after, when you look back, you realise that you’ve undergone this process.”
Undergoing a huge process of growth and refinement over the past half-decade and beyond, now Glded is ready to welcome the world into the fruits of his adventures.