To my acute embarrassment I have only recently (in the last year or so) started listening to the Cocteau Twins. I find their soundscapes fascinating and have, if I may confess, become a wee bit obsessed with their sound and especially Liz Fraser’s vocals… and it was towards her, as comparison, that I turned when I initially started listening to “Foreign Body” by Mirroring.
Mirroring is Jesy Fortino (aka Tiny Vipers) and Liz Harris (aka Grouper). This release came about through a songwriting session in Portland… with the soundscapes on this release baring a delightful resemblance… albeit based more on electronic drones and stripped back acoustic guitar-driven melodies… to the Cocteau Twins.
The opening track – ’Fell Sound’ – is the most delightful of drones… immersive and engaging… which is enhanced by the ethereal vocals of Harris. The combination is something beautiful indeed and a great opener for the release.
The next track – ’Silent From Above’ – is a stripped back acoustic guitar number with a decidedly downbeat melancholia about it. This track contains the most discernible vocals of the release… with the emphasis placed on the guitars rather than drones.
Track three – ’Cliffs’ – begins in very much in a similar vein to the previous track… before evolving and mutating into an immersive and hypnotic soundscape… a soundscape that has an engaging flow about it… more ambient than anything but with delightful flashes of vocal and glitchy found-sounds.
’Drowning the Call’ is another slice of delightful ethereal ambience… with the vocals and subtle guitars really building an intimate atmosphere… a relaxed atmosphere that allows the listener to drift off to the lilting voice of Harris.
The penultimate track – ’mine’ – is more upbeat… more out there… with bolder vocals, a swirly droning background and an intriguing guitar motif. At two seconds off nine minutes… this track does drone on (pardon the pun) before getting more dissonant after the seven-minute mark… where the track dissolves into feedback and repetition.
The last track – ’Mirror Of Our Sleeping’ – has a breathless ambience… very low key… an almost Broadcast-like psychedelic expression… closing the release in a whisper rather than a bang.
Whilst I love the concept of vocals over droning soundscapes and have become fond of them… I think the execution could have been tighter. It’s not that this release isn’t delightful, it truly is… but it just doesn’t stand out enough for me. It needs more control and I guess less drones and more guitars would be an excellent start… but then that would change their unique mix.
The thing is… maybe this release is not meant to stand out as I wish it to… maybe I need to change my expectations so that I get it?
I hope Mirroring record and release more music… and we can watch as their sound develops. I guess that’s the problem with reviewing art of the cutting edge, you don’t always witness the magic there and then… you know it’s there but can’t quite see it… and sometimes you have to return to it after some time away to actually see the very thing that you were searching for all this time was already in your possession.
As such, I give this release seven out of ten… and look forward to an ongoing and inventive pairing.