posted on 7/2006 By:
Just in case you’re turned off and/or confused by the description “dark kaleidoscopic acoustic rock for poets, travelers and seekers”, I offer up as an alternative this litmus test: How attached are you to your copy of Opeth’s Damnation? The second album from Mountain Mirrors offers dark acoustic rock with heavy accents of 70s trippiness and a singer/songwriter soul. This time around, main man in the Mirrors Jeff Sanders has enlisted the help of a group of guest collaborators on keyboard, bass, drums, and cello.
Massachusetts’ Mountain Mirrors comfortably straddles the light/dark dichotomy by blending wistful and ethereal acoustics and vocals with a swirling melancholy and reflectiveness. The addition of skillful proggy accents adds greatly to the thoughtful, introspective ethos of the material. In addition to the Opeth reference, comparisons to Pink Floyd and heavier acoustic music from Alice In Chains are also evident, although Mountain Mirrors sounds much more like the sum of its influences than any one particular band. The compositions have a smart flow that maximize instrumentation flourishes over folkish structures to cleverly build tension. This is especially true of the impressive drumming from Elad Fish and the varied and well placed accompaniment of keyboardist Oren Selas. Sanders’ vocals are likely to be a divisive talking point. He’s not an especially gifted singer, but his multi-tracked vocals have an ethereal but forlorn quality that is fundamental to the voice of the material. He uses some interesting vocal lines and combinations, but at times his approach can become too samey.
Opener “Stay Evil” kicks off with some acoustics and then a heavier, Alice In Chains or Days of the New kind of riff, but quickly sets a different tone with the arrival of a spacey organ line. The songs are longer than traditional folk songs, leaving ample space for development, and at times (“Karmic Dogs”, “Alone in the Crowd”) Sanders tacks on lengthy Wish You Were Here-like psychedelic outros. Another track with a pronounced Floyd influence is the unusual “Alone in the Crowd” which uses an off kilter drunken sway and an odd combination of vocal lines to create an atypical harmony. “Your Time Has Come” begins with a fragile, picked guitar line and mellow piano lines that for some reason are vaguely reminiscent of a song by The Doors. The album is capped by its lone instrumental, the dark and somber “Praying Mantis”.
Mountain Mirrors has been racking up some very favorable reviews for a self released effort, and although I wasn’t quite as taken with the album as many other reviewers, I definitely enjoyed it and got much more than I expected from Sanders and Co. If you’re the least bit open to this sort of thing, Mountain Mirrors is very much worth checking out. This is the kind of album that if it really clicks with you, you’ll totally fall for its unique mood and character and revisit the album for years to come.
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