Glass Apple Bonzai
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Glass Apple Bonzai

St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | INDIE | AFM

St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Electronic Synth




"Glass Apple Bonzai, Self-Titled"

The danger of delving into the world of throwback synthpop is in focusing on the wrong things. The novelty of replicating the now well worn synth and drum sounds and specific methods of production (not to mention the all-important fashion and hair) of the early ‘80s frequently leads to artists overlooking the real strength of those synthetic pop pioneers: it’s in the songs, dummy. Defense Mechanism’s Daniel Belasco isn’t above a little retro fun on the debut of his new project Glass Apple Bonzai, but for every ounce of effort poured into programming those synths and drum machines just so, an equal amount has been spent crafting memorable melodies and lyrical hooks.

Situated somewhere in a spectrum that includes OMD’s Architecture & Morality and The Human League’s Dare, the high gloss sound of Glass Apple Bonzai is surprisingly transparent in the context of the album. The snappy lo-fi snares and ‘verbed out analogue lead of opener “A Million Foolish Hands” mimic the feel of those influences, but it’s the smooth rise from verse to chorus and whipsmart arrangement that leaves the best impression. Belasco’s bag of vintage production tricks is deep (witness the doubled up vocal delay on bouncy “Satellite of Fallen Grace” or the way a synth patch does double duty to tie together the chorus and solo on “Too Late to Let Go”) but applied tastefully throughout, the slowburn of single “The Freeze” easily maps onto any number of other pop modes, and the funky bassline and the squelchy stabs of “Right Some Day” play against the melancholia that bubbles underneath the song’s surface.

At least as important as the twinkly sequences and drum machine claps that wend their way through each of the self-titled album’s nine tracks, Belasco’s vocals are key to summoning the feel of new romanticism. His healthy baritone sticks firmly in a range a bit lower than you might expect, but rather than weighing the sprightly pseudo-Outrun of “The Fist” they serve to lend gravitas. On “Fade to Sorrow” he invests himself fully, turning lyrics that could have been accused of campy dramatics into a solemn examination of the personal. Belasco is never winking at the listener or suggesting he’s anything less than serious in what he’s doing here: the record can be sprightly and melancholic by turns but is never insubstantial.

Glass Apple Bonzai tread a fine line confidently on its debut, and deserves some attention for it. When so many acts that evoke the classic synthpop era are hyperfocused on tongue in cheek visual or surface level markers, Belasco is straight up just writing and performing some good songs in the style. It’s a pleasant listening experience that invokes without imitating, built solidly from the foundation on up. -

"Glass Apple Bonzai, "Night Maze""

Daniel X Belasco’s never had any problems communicating the more overt charms of his classic synthpop project Glass Apple Bonzai. Strong vocals, clear harmonies and a rich, clean palette of synth sounds made the project’s debut a hit here at ID:UD HQ and with fans of forthright synthpop. And yet for a genre so praised and derided for the immediacy of its appeal, a cooler and more austere vein of synthpop runs in parallel to its more melodic side, and it’s the former that Belasco taps into for Night Maze, a sophomore LP built for deeply committed synthpop heads.

On the surface, much of the first album’s style is carried forward on Night Maze. “An Astrophysicist Love Song I” has a winsome questioning, “Dancing On The Moon” and “I Don’t Mind” have immediate bounce, and there’s even a smooth jazz sax bridge on closer “Blue Satellite”. Yet if that’s as far as one looks – easy 80s style fun – it might be said to be lacking in comparison to its predecessor. Night Maze rarely gives itself over to the big lyrical sweeps of “A Million Foolish Hands” or the thumping slink of “The Freeze”. But what Night Maze lacks in immediate thrills it makes up for in masterful instrumentation and mood which reflects a near complete knowledge of a particular vein of restrained, almost dour sounds drawn from records just as crucial to synthpop’s history as its glammy and grandiose moments.

The minimalist sense of instrumentation which was part of the charm of GAB’s debut is brought to bear on Night Maze, and the resulting changes in tone and effect are striking. John Foxx, early Simple Minds, Organisation-era OMD, and even some of the more approachable ends of minimal wave are far better touchstones for this album than the lusher sides of Depeche Mode or the delirious melodies of Yaz. “The Edge Of Morrow”‘s slow, brooding lope comes across as an apprehensive iteration of italo disco, while the solitary synth figures of “The Stars” feel separated from the larger world by sheer panes of glass.

That sparse tone’s measured approach is mirrored in lyrical themes of apprehension, caution, and alienation. Belasco’s always had a yen for science fiction, but Night Maze casts its speculative eye towards quieter, grimmer futures than the whizz-bang ray gun fun of his earlier project, Defense Mechanism. Much more La Jetée or Subway than Planet Of The Apes or even Blade Runner.

Between outrun and plenty of other throwback aesthetics, it often feels as though artifice and surface have come to be the defining characteristics of 80s music. Given the “style over substance” philosophy this seems to impart, it’s perhaps not surprising that plenty of people have thought that replicating the charm of that era is as simple as rehashing its most obvious outer markers. But Belasco knows the period and its music better than that, and pays tribute to the deep cut side of synthpop via Night Maze‘s moody and measured feel. -

"Iceland Airwaves 2014 – Sunday plus Off-Venue best-of"

"The fact that the off-venue schedule is so large and is announced only a couple of weeks before the festival starts would almost lead one to just say to hell with it and not bother to delve in further. That would be a mistake however and Glass Apple Bonzai is proof of it. This is the only show that Daniel X. Belasco is doing of the entire festival so there’s no way I’m missing it. Walking into Dillon Whiskey Bar the sound of ‘80s synthwave takes me upstairs as the Canadian pulls out track after track of synthy goodness in the flavour of Gary Numan." - Simon Roche


Glass Apple Bonzai followed with a unique fun throwback to 80s retro synth music, complete with vintage synthesizers, old computers, and drum machines. - Auxiliary Magazine

"Terminus: Velocity – Calgary’s dark electronic music festival"

How do I begin describing Glass Apple Bonzai? They’re like a slapstick punch in the nose set to the best (read: cheesiest) 80s tunes. Daniel X. Belasco of MDM and Defence Mechanism & Steve better known as Dreamstate Seven, are a bunch of rowdy kids with keys to a stolen DeLorean and they’re driving it over yo’ momma’s daisies.
In spite of technical difficulties, the showmanship and skill of these two artists immediately won over the crowd. - Synescape

"Glass Apple Bonzai - Night Maze"

The Space-Synthwave saga of GLASS APPLE BONZAI continues! After last year's successful debut, Daniel X. Belasco decided to strike while the “iron is hot” and now presents ‘Night Maze’, on which he continues to follow and develop the musical concepts of its predecessor, focusing on retro synth-pop, space disco, and analog electro. The term "analogue" here is not just empty words - the Canadian musician used a collection of vintage synthesizers and musical equipment for the recording of «Night Maze»… One of the reasons why G.A.B. so successfully recreates the atmosphere of the "Golden Age" of electronic pop music, when DEPECHE MODE, OMD, A-HA, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, ALPHAVILLE, YAZOO, CAMOU-FLAGE recorded their classic albums. Nevertheless: Also modern trends of electro-pop music ar not forgotten (sometimes possible association even with late era of ASSEMBLAGE 23), and are skillfully integrated into the retro sound of GLASS APPLE BONZAI. - Out of Line

"Synthetix Weekend Update 2014_05_01"

We've been a fan of of Glass Apple Bonzai's brand of 80s driven synth pop on Synthetix.FM thoughout 2014 and this past week has witnessed the release of the first Glass Apple Bonzai album. Containing nine rockin tracks the songs are very thoughtfully presented, leaning towards a morose, early 80s european flavour of synth pop with sparse synthscapes and vocals that brood along nicely indeed. Stand out tracks like 'The Freeze', 'The Fist' and the Numan-esque 'The Girl With The Telephoto Eye' really rock hard and I'm sure you'll find much to enjoy within. -


Daniel X Belasco’s first album for Artoffact is (like his previous two LPs as Glass Apple Bonzai) an effective bridge between classic synthpop and neon synthwave sounds. Oh, and its primary theme is devil worship. It’s a mildly incongruous blend of elements but it works, primarily because Belasco commits to it fully, coupling VHS-era satanic panic samples with some of the strongest songwriting and production yet heard from the Ontario based artist.

In The Dark puts its cards on the table at the outset with “Light in the Darkness (Overture)”, with sinister church bells and distant weeping slowly giving away to a galloping bassline and giant synth leads. Like any good overture it serves to introduce us to the rest of the work, its bombast flowing easily in the low-key “Holy War” and on into the blasphemous synth-funk of the title track. Indeed “In The Dark” is as close as Glass Apple Bonzai has ever sounded to The Gap Band or Zapp, complete with the vocoders and a more-bounce-to-the-ounce bassline. The LP features a few similarly interesting stylistic excursions, like the Art of Noise sampledelica of “Unholy” and the dreamy new wave of “Modern Light”, the latter of which comes complete with a solemn monologue by labelmate Alex Reed of Seeming.

The album’s bread and butter is in synthpop hooks though, and there are more than enough of them to keep the record moving. “Suicide You and I” and closer “A Wicked Fire (Finale)” are sticky sweet, their trilling synths and gated drums a perfect vehicle for Belasco’s smooth radio-voice vocals. It’s a hell of a voice indeed, and a goodly portion of what makes the record successful is how it gets used. Belasco goes all in on his songs, even when he’s singing about midnight rituals to invoke El Diablo or hellfire as metaphor for burnin’ love he sounds deadly sincere.

And that might be one of In The Dark and Glass Apple Bonzai’s greatest strengths. The temptation with retro-themed synth music is often to wink to the listener, using irony to preemptively head off any criticism. In refusing to cling to detachment as a safety net GAB never undercuts the impact of their songs. Indeed, a Satanic synthpop record might not sound like the number one candidate for a superlative like “genuine”, but Belasco earns it; truly a case where you have to give the devil his due. - I Die: You Die

"Glass Apple Bonzai – In The Dark (CD Album – Artoffact Records)"

I have to say I wasn’t that impressed by the previous album so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to discover this new work. “In The Dark” however reveals an improvement in the global songwriting and production. The songs are still inspired by vintage electro-pop music. It sounds a bit space-like, but the numerous analogue sweeps, refined bleeping sequences and retro-kicks will quickly awake some good-old memories.

The pop style of Glass Apple Bonzai will make you feel happy and get you on the dancefloor. It’s an ode to the 80s and one of the bands that come regularly to mind is Duran Duran.

+ + + : The songwriting was seriously improved accentuating the magic of analogue synthesizer music. This rather ‘new’ project is an exciting emulation of the 80s. You directly can feel the real spirit of vintage electronics while there are a few brilliant songs featured on this album.

– – – : Glass Apple Bonzai remains one of the weirdest band names I’ve heard in quite a long time. It doesn’t sound really serious and I can’t get away from the fact that the music was composed just for fun. It sometimes becomes a bit too cliché-like.

Conclusion: If you’re fond of 80s synth-pop music with a feel-good sound, you definitely have to taste the sweetness of the Glass apple Bonzai! This is music to eliminate your daily stress and simply have fun!

Best songs: “Suicide, You And I”, “A New Day Begins”, “In The Dark”, “Light In The Darkness (Overture)”. - Side-Line

"A refreshingly shameless flirt with the 80s"

Glass Apple Bonzai is one of Canadian Daniel Belasco‘s many musical projects. ”In The Dark” is the third full length release, and it’s all about pure, unadulterated synthpop which in no way shies away from its strong 80s influences.
”Light In The Darkness (Overture)” opens the album and sets the tone right away, and there’s no doubt that soundtracks of 80s movies is a huge inspiration.
In songs like”Holy War”, ”What They Say” and album closer ”A Wicked Fire” the influences from the poppier side of synth become obvious, and one can assume that artists like Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby and Duran Duran have been given a few spins on Belasco‘s record player over the years.
The presence of the New York electro scene ca 1982/83 is palpable in ”In The Dark”, while ”The Unholy” presents a heavier and darker sound with traces of early EBM.
”Suicide, You, And I” is probably the song that first grabbed me with its immediate chorus and accompanying synthwave melody line. This one together with ”Modern Lights” are songs where the 80s influences are slightly less direct, even though they’re quite obviously still there.
”In The Dark” is refreshingly upfront about its 80s flirtation which is only positive as it’s still today a decade that is frowned upon. The album displays proper first-class songwriting, a total absence of fillers along with top notch production throughout. As this is my first time experiencing Glass Apple Bonzai it is quite clear to me that I will have to check out his previous releases. Judging by what I’ve heard here, chances are I’ve got a lot of great stuff to discover… - Elektroskull

"Musique Machine"

For its third release, Glass Apple Bonzai (Daniel X. Belasco) finds itself in the capable hands of Toronto's Artoffact Records. Bringing synthpop and light dance to the masses with a retro vibe, In The Dark has a fresh, yet comfortable sound. Eschewing the current, self-aware tribute trend and taking an approach closer to Italo Disco, Glass Apple Bonzai create a fun and engaging pop album that is genuine with it's love of synth grooves.
Having my musical life shaped by my youth in the 80's, I tread lightly with music that is described as having "80's" elements. I'm very protective of that warm little nugget that helped make me me, and I don't want people that may not feel the same way about it bandying it about willy nilly. Fortunately, though, there are acts that embrace the music and aren't in it for hipster-esque, "ironic" reasons. Glass Apple Bonzai, has built a solid, synthy smile machine in In The Dark. Closer to 80's Italo Disco than 80's New Wave, GAB play a bright, and refreshing brand of synthpop. Bright, fun boppers such as "Light In the Darkness," "Holy War," and "A Wicked Fire" dare the listener to sit still in his/her chair while the subtle synth beat bounces forward and plays springboard to higher, nostalgic synths. It must be noted, too, that the vocals match the music wonderfully, too. Not overreaching, and just amateur enough, Daniel's vocals capture those of a musician wholly involved in his project. Darker numbers like "Suicide, You, and I" and "The Unholy" have more of an early, progressive industrial vibe. Not too far from Twitch era Ministry, these darker tracks hammer home the grim undertone of the album's story. Add to this some familiar film samples, and you're sitting in Classic Industrial 101. Despite the difference in tone and structure of the lighter and darker tracks, they work very well together to complete Glass Apple Bonzai's vision, and In The Dark benefits greatly from GAB's attention to detail.

While most music on this site is grim and gnarly, sometimes a bright little nugget comes to pass. Glass Apple Bonzai's In The Dark shines brightly in all it's synthy splendor. Danceable and catchy, this one will definitely get respun a lot during the summer months. Until then, any fan of Italo Disco would do well by picking this one up. - Musique Machine

"Interview: Glass Apple Bonzai"

Hello Daniel, and welcome to Brutal Resonance! I'm new to Glass Apple Bonzai and many of our fans will probably be new to your project as well. Tell us who you are, what genres you perform, and what your favorite record of all time is.

Daniel: Hello! I'm Daniel Belasco, the main-cheese behind Glass Apple Bonzai. I've been writing and recording my own music for roughly twenty years under various identities. I'm from a mid-sized Canadian city of no consequence called St. Catharines. I make synthpop, and I'm very happy doing so. Favourite record of all time? Songs From the Big Chair by Tears For Fears

There are a countless amount of bands within the synthpop scene who hold the 80s in high regards and float the era as their dominate influence. How do you think Glass Apple Bonzai sticks apart from the pack? You draw from the 80s, but what makes the music different in comparison to both modern and classic albums?

Daniel: With Bonzai I'm not aiming to make modern sounding electronic music with dashes of 80s personality here and there for kitsch value. I'm making an honest attempt to write music and record it in a fashion that has the authenticity of music from the 1980s. A lot of current synthpop and synthwave bands tend to focus on the flash and panache of 80s MTV culture, which is awesome but I've always been naturally drawn to the darker more dramatic side of things and that's where I gather most of my inspiration. The 80s were just as dark as they were flashy and bright.

Glass Apple Bonzai seems to have started back in 2014 with a self-titled release. How did this album shape the rest of your history under the Glass Apple Bonzai name?

Daniel: I have to start this answer with a shout-out to Alex Kennedy of I Die: You Die. Without him nudging me to continue working on the demo tracks I had accumulated and finish the first Bonzai album it probably never would have been completed. He enticed me with giving Bonzai its first ever live show at Aftermath Festival (which formed from the ashes of Kinetik Festival). After that it's all been generally positive. Bonzai's material is the most commercially successful music I've ever made and is also the most fun I've had making music since I was a teenager. If you subscribe to the idea of a “calling” then making synthpop is my true calling and the comfort I feel in this project has helped make it a very productive endeavour. I don't see Glass Apple Bonzai ever ending.

Do you find it important to stick with a similar style each album so fans will know it's your album? Or do you find yourself experimenting and going beyond boundaries that were previously set?

Daniel: Everything I make has my indelible mark on it, even if I tried to avoid it it would still be there. Everyone has their own style and technique, and although that may change and grow over time there's always a signature there. I believe that's a key element to growing and holding a fan base, but it still allows me to change and experiment. I have amazing, loyal fans who seem more interested in seeing what I'm doing next, where I'm going, and how I'm progressing than with me just chunking out the same shit all the time. I couldn't ask for a better audience, to be honest.

Though 2014 marked your start, you've released three albums including your latest In The Dark. How has your sound matured in the past two years? What have you learned about yourself and Glass Apple Bonzai in the process?

Daniel: As I continue to write music as Glass Apple Bonzai I find that I'm maturing in different areas musically than I did in previous projects, mostly because I'm free to do whatever I want without worrying about the approval of others. Because of that I've discovered that I appreciate a wider variety of musical passages and concepts. e.g. multi-part vocal harmonies, more personal lyrical content. That last point is a big one, actually. With each album my lyrical content has become increasingly more personal and more open. That wasn't something I did before. But I do it now.

And what are your own, personal reflections on In The Dark? Do you feel as if the album is your best work to date or do you find you older material more triumphant?

Daniel: Out of the 3 GAB albums I have the strangest, most disconnected relationship with In the Dark because the writing process was stretched out over a longer than normal period of time, and due to some health issues and a variety of other bit of “life” interfering the completion of the album was staggered and weird. But ultimately, it's that awkwardness that's making In the Dark feel so unique. I wouldn't say that the entire album is my best work to date, but there are a few songs on it that I would consider some of the best I've written so far.

Do you have a favorite song on In The Dark? If so, could you explain to us why?

Daniel: 'Modern Light' is actually my favourite song on the album. There's myriad things about it that sit out from the rest of the album, most prominently the bridge dialogue by Alex Reed of Seeming. It's the first time I've added a bit like that to a song, added with some different types of arrangement and editing the song feels like a true progression for me.

You had two guest musicians on the album: Hello Moth and Seeming. How did you contact them to work on the album with you?

Daniel: Hello Moth played right before Bonzai at Terminus Festival in 2015 and I was absolutely blown to fucking smithereens by his set. As soon as his set was done I was thinking of a way to work on something with him, and it hit me sort of like a tonne of frozen fish when I was reviewing the songs that would end up on In the Dark that the missing ingredient for 'What They Say' was his voice. His vocals changed it from a good song to a great song. The same can be said, to a degree about Alex Reed's involvement. Back when Seeming were beginning to make waves with their song 'The Burial' I was working on the first Bonzai album and that song kept me inspired to continue. I met Alex in the flesh at Terminus and saw Seeming perform and, again I knew I had to work on something with him. And holy shit was he quick about it too. I sent him a message asking if he'd like to contribute a monologue during the bridge of the song and his initial reaction was basically "I'll see if I have the time," which was closely followed by, "Actually...Give me 15 minutes”, and like a goddamn magician he sent me his dialogue and it was perfect.

And what are your plans to support In The Dark? Shall you be embarking on a tour in support of the album?

Daniel: Touring is definitely the plan. I've already played a number of shows in the last couple of years. Gone to such amazing places as Iceland (twice, for Iceland Airwaves), and of course Terminus in Calgary, so it's time to take the band further. My primary focus, aside from Canadian shows is Europe. I'd love to plan some US dates but touring there is a bit on the expensive side these days if you want to do it officially. I suppose it all depends on who's willing to fork out the cash! There's nothing set in stone as of right now but things will come to fruition soon, so stay tuned!

Is there anything else in the works at the camp of Glass Apple Bonzai that you could shed light on? Or are you in a resting period for now?

Daniel: The only thing I know for sure is that I still have an EP called The Sounds of Love that I want to release in and around Valentine's Day 2017. It's a lot more upbeat than In the Dark and draws its inspiration more from early Men Without Hats and Rational Youth records. As for another full length album, I'd like to keep up my track record of One Album Per Year so expect another album near the end of 2017. I probably SHOULD take a resting period...but I've never been very good at that.

And now I thank you for your time with us and wish you the best with In The Dark! The space below is yours to say what you wish!

Daniel: It is entirely possible that I am from another planet. Thank you. - Brutal Resonance


"The Freeze/I Can't Stop Running" (Single) 2014
"Glass Apple Bonzai" (Full Length) 2014
"My Alliance (to Science!)" (Single) 2014
"An Astrophysicist Love Story Part 1" (Single) 2015
"Night Maze" (Full Length) 2015
"Holy War" (Single) 2015
"In the Dark" (Full Length) 2016



As though climbing out of an ice cold DeLorean with wild eyes and crazy hair Glass Apple Bonzai bring the manic romances, frozen hearts, deep emotions, and introspective darkness of 80's Synthpop to a new and modern audience that hungers for the traditional, but yet unique.
"Strong songwriting is key" says Daniel X. Belasco, founding member and lead driving force. "But there's still plenty of room for ridiculous synth solos and an abundance of hand claps!"
Taking direction from originators of the New Wave and Synthpop movements of the early 1980's, Daniel departed from the more industrial sounds of his previous project Defence Mechanism to spread his musical hopping in a time machine. Apparently.
Glass Apple Bonzai, in their relatively short existence has garnered critical acclaim both for their recorded material but also for their live performances. Having performed their inaugural show at Toronto's Aftermath Festival in 2014 (held in the legendary Phoenix Concert Theatre) to an enthusiastic and large audience.
"This is the most fun I've ever had making music" Daniel says of Glass Apple Bonzai's music. "I have the opportunity to write strong, personal music that a wide variety of people can identify with. Which is an important quality to me. Most of, if not all of the greatest music ever written has a strong connection or bond with its audience. With the individual listener. That's the universal language of music, and I'm happy to speak it."
Daniel's production techniques act as an experiment in the traditional. A scientific research into attaining the vibe and feeling of classic 80's records. But Glass Apple Bonzai doesn't merely sit in the shadow of a long passed decade, harping on kitsch and panache.
Daniel continually strives to accurately represent that which made the retro synth movement such a prominent force behind all music since. Lustrous pop songs with strong hooks and a lyrical content that avoids the stereotype of vapid pop-trash and offers the listener something to listen to and think about, all while being able to sing or dance along.
Glass Apple Bonzai have received multiple awards for their music and recording/production ("Recording Engineer of the Year" 2010 Niagara Music Awards, "Recording Engineering of the Year", "Album of the Year" 2015 Niagara Music Awards, "Recording Engineer of the Year", "Electronic Artist of the Year" 2016 Niagara Music Awards). Showing with an undeniable surety that GAB's brand of "Retro-Wave" synthpop is a force to be reckoned with and definitely shows no signs of slowing down.

GAB's newest album "In the Dark" marks their first release on Artoffact Records, with whom they recently signed. 
Glass Apple Bonzai has also visited Iceland twice to play at the world renowned Iceland Airwaves Festival, both in 2014 and 2016, have performed at Terminus Festival Calgary both in 2015 and upcoming again in 2017, and is currently planning a North American tour.

Band Members