Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Mirror Mirror: Society for the Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness

Written by Niina Pollari
From the first choral note and accompanying bell-ring, Mirror Mirror’s Society for the Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness (Cochon Records) sounds like a slightly creepy carnival ride. This, however, does not mean the album sounds unfriendly. It just means the lights randomly go dark, and the man operating the ride smiles in a slightly unsettling way before he hits the switch, and the car drags you, the hapless fairgoer, off into the dark and unpredictable bowels of the fun house.
From the first choral note and accompanying bell-ring, Mirror Mirror’s Society for the Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness (Cochon Records) sounds like a slightly creepy carnival ride. This, however, does not mean the album sounds unfriendly. It just means the lights randomly go dark, and the man operating the ride smiles in a slightly unsettling way  before he hits the switch, and the car drags you, the hapless fairgoer, off into the dark and unpredictable bowels of the fun house.

Mirror Mirror essentially consists of David Riley, Ryan Lucero (Telepathe), Matt Bagdanoff, and Jill Kaufman—although, as with other arty collectives, like, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, TV on the Radio, or Stars Like Fleas, guest musicians abound. The album’s main recognizable effect is the vocals, which are impeccably executed; also playing a prominent part are guitar—melodic as well as chugging—keyboards, and percussion, weaving together into a unified sound that doesn’t relent for a second. Unsurprisingly, Mirror Mirror is fond of incorporating performance art into their live shows, which, I imagine, makes for a fascinating audience experience since their sound is so unique already.

I don’t think I could pick a favorite from this album. I say I can’t pick one because I find myself thinking, “This one is my favorite,” each time a new track comes on. I think this is because of the sweetly demented dreaminess that guides the album from beginning to end. Each of the songs is different and unique, but they float from one to the next without hesitation or distraction. The Goth teenager in me comes out during songs like “Lock Up Your Sons,” with its vaguely unsettling lyrics—“We are your family now/Lock up your sons”—surrounded by slow-moving horror flick keyboards. I’m also partial to the mildly vintage psychedelia of “My Talisman” and the faster-paced “Eugene.” Also riveting are the three ninety-seconds-or-less “Gates” that punctuate the album. What are the gates leading to? one might ask. And just who actually goes through them? I get the feeling that Mirror Mirror and their Society for the Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness know, but they’re not telling.

At times, the album reminds me of Pink Floyd on the teeth-grittingly subdued progression of “Lock Up Your Sons”; Animal Collective with the exaggerated, high-pitched vocal harmonies that show up in songs like “Eugene”; and My Morning Jacket, well, because most of the time, the voices sound like they were recorded in a tunnel. But I mention this only to contextualize, for those who like that sort of thing, and I stress that Mirror Mirror never steals a sound. Each of the songs I mention just incorporates an element into a fluid, pre-existing atmosphere.

Overall, this album is varied without losing grip on itself, which makes it atmospheric and interesting to listen to all the way through. So ungrip your fingers from the seat, open your eyes, and let Mirror Mirror mutter their minor apocalypses into your ear until the ride comes to an end. And if it gets too spooky, remember that the man pulling the switches behind the curtain probably knows what he’s doing.
 
Photo & cover photo of Mirror Mirror by Jason Rodgers 

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