Fractal Mirror, SLOW BURN 1 (Third Contact, 2016).
Tracks: Prelude; Miracle; Numbers; V838; Floods; Mist; Enemies; Embers; Fading; Artifacts; Universal.
Mixed by Brett Kull, and mastered by Larry Fast.
If you’re looking for some intelligent, thoughtful, and melodic rock, you’ve arrived at the perfect place. The aptly titled, SLOW BURN 1, offers 11 contemplative tracks, each flowing elegantly from one to another. While the first two Fractal Mirror albums possessed strong gothic-Prog elements, this album, as a whole, is rather Beatles-eque, especially in its vocal melodies.
Indeed, the only song that goes beyond a SLOW BURN is the seventh track, “Enemies,” which has feel of deep paranoia and anxiety.
There’s a record of where we’ve been
So I change my daily routine
Trying not to flag the machine
I keep it unpredictable
Other than track seven, SLOW BURN 1 definitely simmers.
And, yes, I use “simmer” rather deliberately. In the world of cooking, this would be the expert sauce made by a beloved great German-Russian aunt—displaced from her homeland, but living comfortably in the new world—that has simmered at low heat for hours upon hours, one ingredient added at a time. As each new thing is added over the hours of preparation, each thing is distinctive for only a moment before becoming a part of an even greater whole.
This is SLOW BURN 1—a beautiful whole made of separate but related parts.
As with the previous two albums, Leo Koperdraat gives us his whole being in his plaintively significant vocals expressing the anguish and introspection of Frank Urbaniak’s equally moving and moody lyrics. Each musician gives his all in his respective instrument(s), with van Haagen’s bass and Urbaniak’s drumming giving us a solid and consistent foundation for the album as a whole.
Echolyn’s Brett Kull guests on all of the songs –becoming for all intents and purposes a fourth member of the trio—and mixes the album. While he certainly adds a higher level of professional production not as apparent on the previous two Fractal Mirror albums, the distinctive voice of the band is absolutely Fractal Mirror’s and not Echolyn’s, it must be noted. In other words, Kull makes Fractal Mirror MORE Fractal Mirror rather than some third thing.
Larry Fast’s audiophilic talents can be felt throughout SLOW BURN 1 as well.
SLOW BURN 1 moves Fractal Mirror in a artistically logical direction. The Beatle-esque qualities of the band have existed and been apparent from the first track of the first album, but SLOW BURN 1 is the first album on which the band allows this mid 1960s melodic spirit of Liverpool to penetrate the music at every level. SLOW BURN 1, consequently, is not the goth prog of The Cure or Bauhaus found in the first two albums, but, instead, something varied and poppier–perhaps the spirit, say, of World Party.
SLOW BURN 1 is a fascinating musical journey, and watching Fractal Mirror grow and develop from a group of friends on the internet to a tight and purposeful artistic collective has been a pure joy.
Not to be missed as well: Brian Watson’s and Urbaniak’s powerful artwork for the album.
[Credits thank the beautiful and talented Anne de-Froidmont for art as well, but I couldn’t find any of her contributions in the booklet.]