Samantha Glass is not a woman but the name of the electronic music project of Madison musician Beau Devereaux, who uses old analog drum machines, a few synthesizers, a heavily processed bass guitar and his own effects-encoded singing to create a self-sufficient sonic world.
Devereaux started the project in 2010 after leaving a few different bands and moving into a new house in Appleton. He made a new home studio, and his experiments there led him to create Samantha Glass. His compositional method is always evolving: "When it comes to writing songs and new material, I usually tend to start with bass riffs or program a certain beat that I enjoy, then run it through effects and EQ," he says. "Lately, a lot more ideas are being created around different keyboard phrases [instead of] being based around bass patterns."
His dreamy music is trancelike, but its reliance on keyboards makes it far removed from most guitar-driven efforts in the psychedelic genre. One prime example of his unique musical voice is "Lost Along The Way," included on his new album Mysteries From The Palomino Skyliner (released this fall on Not Not Fun)
The song creeps along to the rhythms of a delay-soaked drum machine, with a stripped-down sound that recalls the ticking of a mechanical toy. Swelling synthesizer chords soon dominate the spindly rhythms, which in turn surrender the spotlight to a tinkling, elegant and instantly memorable keyboard line. Though the surface seems tranquil, the different melodies have much more push and pull than you might initially expect. Devereaux notes that he really enjoys "the way the bass and key melody almost work against each other."
There are vocals in the song as well, but they're buried within the mix throughout and serve as another instrument. This is not hyperbole, but the way Devereaux uses his voice in this project. His far-off, watery croon imbues the track with surprising tension. Curiously, though, it's not immediately noticeable. "Most of the time, I don't write anything for lyrics and just let sounds spill out," he says.
The sound of the track is surprisingly lush. Devereaux recorded the entire album himself on a 4-track tape recorder and a multi-track digital recorder, and the combination of lo-fi analog sonics and digital clarity is striking. The contrast between sounds and recording approaches is nearly eliminated. All the individual parts cohere in one beautiful, reverberating mass of unconventionally melodic synthesized music.
Though Devereaux was slightly concerned about the possible lack of audio fidelity, he ultimately wasn't too bothered: "I love having the ability to record everything at my house," he says.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.