First single from Glenn Echo’s debut record, “Fixed Memory”, out on digital platforms October 15th 2021.
It’s hard to believe that Fixed Memory is Glenn Echo’s first album. Formed in 2015 by multi-instrumentalist Matt Gaydar, the alt-folk project has a deceptively intricate way of spinning acoustic guitar melodies, cozy vocal harmonies, and introspective lyrics into a soothing blend of indie folk. There’s a professional quality to Glenn Echo’s music that’s typically reserved for seasoned musicians, and listening to his debut LP, it’s easy to picture him sharing the stage with those very luminaries. After all, over the span of 12 songs, Fixed Memory plays out like a pastoral soundscape that could easily be mistaken for the work of Big Thief, Keaton Henson, or José González.
Back in 2015, Gaydar decided to put his best foot forward under the moniker Glenn Echo, a nod to the street he grew up on.
After studying classical composition in college, he learned to appreciate the use of orchestral instruments within indie rock and experimental music. He then left town to live in Nashville, TN and Northampton, MA for a handful of years where he began reimagining his song sketches as something much bigger. Instead of simply settling for a straightforward acoustic ballad, he thought, why not add in a pulsing rhythm section, the wiry charm of a mandolin, or a field recording playing in reverse?
With Fixed Memory, Gaydar embraces his new, imaginative persona as Glenn Echo and all the places it can take him. On album opener “Rising Wide-Eyed,” he channels his inner John Luther Adams to the tune of wind and birds chirping in the distance. Once “Overwhelm” kicks in, he leans into thick guitar tones that recall Feist’s Pleasure and layers them with heart-tugging cello. Later, on “Moon Seems Lost,” Glenn Echo offers his own southern twang in the vein of Hiss Golden Messenger, where each lyric (“You pulled me like the tide” or “Skipping stones through your breathing,” for instance) injects vivid images with universally nostalgic memories.
“Music is a language when it comes to emotions,” explains Gaydar. “Memory—and that idea of a fixed memory in particular, something that’s deeply tied to a location or emotion—can be incredibly moving. We can feel like we’ve endured similar moments in life, even if we’ve lived in very different ways from one another, just because the music evokes a similar emotion in all of us. I think the album works best as a potential shared experience in that way.”
Arguably the most thrilling songs on Fixed Memory see Glenn Echo veering into electronic undercurrents. With a quiet drum loop in “Snowing.” and a propulsive beat atop finger-picked guitar in “Hearth,” it’s impossible not to bring up Radiohead — the rare and, therefore, well-earned comparison. With engineer-producer Peter Brownlee at his side, Gaydar was able to transform this album into an immersive world of emotion-forward folk, unexpected time signatures, and his comforting vocal timbre that stays with you long afterwards. Don’t be surprised if listening to Fixed Memory melts away your stress and worries. That’s just what happens when you submerge yourself in the graceful, intimate, and sonically rich world of Glenn Echo.