Sunbathing Through a Glass Screen is the new album from composer and pianist Theo Alexander. A reflection of the time, the collection of tracks features both soothing melodies and haunting dissonance. Nothing ever feels steady as Alexander takes listeners on a journey that’s as much uncomfortable as it is respectable.
Alexander describes this work as wanting to confront listeners with the “decadence” involved in making art in the 21st Century. If there’s an apt word to describe the album it would be decadent. Alexander displays commendable talent as a composer but at the same time the general uneasiness throughout robs the experience of being an overly enjoyable one.
Tracks like Accidental Enlightenment and Innumerabilia showcase Alexander’s skill. With a good pair of headphones, songs like these will take you away from wherever you are. The soundstage envelops the listener to the point that the music weaves around them. If Alexander wanted to capture the feeling of contemporary life through music, then this is it at its most enjoyable. The catchy rhythms and soothing repetition work together to convey the business of life without bordering on irritation.
But it’s that frantic, unpredictable nature of life that Alexander also expresses that is less enjoyable. Bright Eyed Hunger for example starts off with a fantastic melody that hooks the listener but soon thereafter double bass scrapes pervade the track, swirling around the soundstage. While this effect is impressive it means that the otherwise soothing song is hampered by a continual noise in the background.
It’s this effect that brings attention back to Alexander’s use of the word “decadence.” As an album that borders on being great, it feels like nothing but decadence to hinder it with irritating or uneasy noises with the intention of presenting modern life through music uncorrupted. The unapologetic nature of Alexander’s work is commendable, but it certainly won’t be for everyone.