Review: Xena Glas – Body


Derived from Xena Glas’ lived experience with autism, the five tracks of Body are named after specific sites where the effects of autism announce themselves, each at the juncture between the internal and external: “Eye” references the plethora of ideas and emotions conveyed through eye contact; “Feet” and “Hand” are about stimming in situations of sensory overload, such as tapping fingers or counting. The focal point of these pieces is always changing – dragged away from the fingerplucked guitar to trace the arc of a vocal harmony, fractured into a dozen shards by electronic glitches, the signal stolen by bursts of noise, simple rhythms undermined by furtive syncopations – as if Xena Glas’ attempts to simply play her melodies are forever subjected to interruptions and sabotage.

It’s a sonically bustling record, with every pocket of air filled with birdsong, footsteps, conversations in public spaces, piano, strings, synthesisers…yet paradoxically Body also captures a sense of distance, with lyrics and guitars reverberating within the spaces held open for an absent reply – occasionally only greeted by their own utterance in reverse. There’s an introspective gravity at work here too, along with suggestions of nonlinear time. The energy flows back in on itself, with the counting voices on “Hand” like water dripping into a vessel (with a momentary snippet of a younger child counting too, as if tracing a thread back into Xena Glas’ past), and the glitch-ridden rhythms and guitars of “Eye” feeding back into themselves to produce eternal repeats. “Let me have my body”, she demands during the title track, in a remark on reclaiming ownership of a body subject to the objectifications and victimisations of society, shrouded in dizzy cross-rhythms from synthesisers and pianos and electronic beats. The silence that falls upon this request at the track’s conclusion is swift and cruel.

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