Mind Over Mirrors is the ever-evolving brainchild of Jaime Fennelly, and the new album from his project is called Undying Color. In short – the album is a monument of sonic wonder. Available on Paradise of Bachelors label – this record continues work that stands as a beacon for what’s possible if fearless experimentation is pursued.
Through it’s pulsing instruments – violins, pedal harmoniums, and synths, what Undying Color achieves is a reassuring sense of interconnection, not only with the songs in this sequence, but also by referencing the DNA of previous albums – things may be evolved here but the pedigree remains. Here beats produce tones, which become drones. Tempos, and harmonic shifts expand over the track sequence. They reveal contrasting textures within single stretched-out notes, and they produce a singular vision from a variety of perspectives. This commentary sounds like hyperbole, but in reality this is an album that can either be played from the bottom the darkest mine, from the highest point of any landscape, or in the smallest space between your ears; it escapes the usual measures.
Undying Color is undoubtedly Fenelly’s vision, but it is produced with great awareness by Cooper Crain, a man known for his work with bands Cave and his own vehicle, Bitchin Bajas. Crain has an incredible awareness for this kind of thing – he allows intuition to guide discipline, and he handles tracks with generosity. He surfs the force beneath him – he does not attempt to leave his footprints on anything. How he has brought cohesion to such a massive vision is evidence of high art.
The album features contributions from a range of artists, Janet Bean (Eleventh Dream Day) Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux) Jon Mueller (Volcano Choir, Death Blues) and Jim Becker (Califone). These combined energies produce a rare and unforced chemistry.
Considering an album of this type the act of extracting a single track from for analysis is a fools errand – so let’s be foolish:
“Gravity Wake” sits at eleven minutes and fifty-two seconds, and since you’re so easily, comfortably lost in the pulsing drum you kind of wish it would go on for another hour or two. The pull of this track truly has the sense of planets aligning. The forces at work here are larger than anyone could have previously conceived. As the title suggests – the effect of this song isn’t just what’s experienced when your’e sat in the middle of the process. Long after you’ve removed headphones or stopped the noise you sit and move through it’s influence. It’s just fucking massive.
With tracks titled with names like “Splintering”, “To The Edges”, “600 Miles Around”, “Gray Clearer” and the already mentioned “Gravity Wake” there is a sense that Fennelly is pointing to landmarks, or definitions of the environment that will aid fellow travelers. What actually happens has less to do with the points of reference and everything to do with the space between familiar locations. Maybe that’s the point.
An album of devotional-like work, these (mainly) instrumental pieces don’t just open channels – they remove any sense of pre-determination. Listeners can move to their own center through the shifting centers of the tune. Imagine a strange place where dropping a cathedral to the bottom of canyon is possible. Imagine the visual, imagine the sound – that’s the only description that fits what happens to structured faith, natural wonder, and the scale of what Mind Over Mirrors has accomplished. And yet – this is an album of life – it’s heavy with greens and bursts of organic light, it is a vast but somehow welcoming space. Undying Color removes boundaries beautifully.
For this staggering album of zen wisdom and awe we award Mind Over Mirrors one hand, clapping.
image credit: timothy breen