Having well and truly put their house in order with the industrial whiplashing provided by Corrections House, half the project, namely Scott Kelly and Sanford Parker are still overflowing with creative juices. This has led to the duo putting together the imaginatively named Mirrors For Psychic Warfare. The players behind this “Scanners” like musical battle should need no real introduction; Kelly obviously for Neurosis, Shrinebuilder etc and Parker for Buried At Sea and in the production chair a veritable horde of other band’s work. I guess the main question here is would you go into MFPW with preconceived ideas of what to expect and would you be correct in your presumption? Yes and no is probably the rather unhelpful answer. Whilst retaining some ideas laid out in Corrections House this could well be considered the yin to its yang (and aware that does sound rather pretentious). Whereas their modus operandi is bludgeoning with some acerbic and hellacious electronica this mirror is a work of minimalism and textures that are much more subtle, completely at the other end of the spectrum.
It’s presented in 5 sprawling tracks running over the ¾ of an hour mark. ‘Oracles Hex’ establishes strange sounds over harmonic clean vocals and you are aware stories are going to be told over these numbers and it is up to you to either take them in or fixate on the lull of the repetitive instrumentation. It is as though musically they have set you up to lure you into a trance like state with the repeated motifs and the flow is completely hypnotic. Sounds do build, never droning but also moving from a mellow flow into a sense of danger. It’s all quite unsettling and as they drown out vocals you are unable to follow what is being said entirely. This first number does change halfway through just as you are getting used to it with a percussive backbone suddenly bustling in and booming forth, the weight behind it being quite unexpected and making you uncertain of how things will progress. Probably the most immersive number ‘A Thorn You See’ comes next and gently takes you into an endless musical vista of simple repetitive drum tapping and an eerie synth line. Finally vocal narration starts poetically and Kelly takes us on another trip that sounds like he is reading from what would no doubt make a very interesting book. Prepare to lose all sense of time during it until some slow guitar finally comes in and mournfully ebbs in over the song, replacing the vocals and things gradually build to a climax 15 minutes after it started.
This is the sort of vein that things continue in ‘CNN WTZ’ a more droning musical mantra with some low but rugged roars vocally rising in the background. It’s all very soothing but unless you are prepared to really listen and fixate on it the background nature of everything takes over and you will find concentration fading as it all washes over you. The biog calls this “unique and unfamiliar” and I have to agree with that, another thing to try and put your finger on is whether you like it or not, it’s not exactly enjoyable but then again it isn’t something you wouldn’t want to listen to either. I guess it is an album of paradoxes but it is always interesting with it, a meeting of minds working in some sort of ‘out there’ symmetry’ with each other. Hell it certainly makes giving it a mark very difficult so I’m going with a gut instinct on that front but this is essentially an exercise in what you as an individual listener will make out of it all.
(7/10 Pete Woods)