The Dutch/American fusion that is Fractal Mirror makes for an incredible sound. Self-described as a "pop/rock band with prog influences" leaves me with the impression these guys are extremely humble. I pick up strong scents of IQ and Marillion along with some top notes of The Verve and Radiohead. Fractal Mirror should make for remarkable listening...gotta break out the good headphones...
The first serving from the buffet this week is a song called "The Fading Ghosts of Yesterday." The song opens with some serene keyboards; the mental picture is a lost soul emerging from an overgrown corn field. The drums and guitars blend in with the keys to create a soft, dark ballad of sorts...the music has a way of staying in the foreground while creating a picturesque setting for the vocals a la Under The Psycamore...intriguing indeed. Fractal Mirror ha set the bar high with their opening cut.
Song number two from this week's sampling is a captivating piece called "The Chair." With traces of Fairport Convention and The Psychedelic Furs (now that is some generational fusion), I half expect videos of splitting amoebas to suddenly appear on my living room wall. This song has folk, rock, and prog influences running throughout. Fractal Mirror does something few bands can pull off successfully--each member of the band comes off understated yet completely essential to the composition. Nothing jumps out and steals the spotlight, but remove any one note from the song and you are left incomplete and disappointed. The lead vocals are smooth, with just a bit of an edge while the backing vocals fill a void you didn't realize was there. Fractal Mirror has brought something new to the prog garden that is all at once refreshing, exciting, appealing, and borderline addictive.
Liner Notes...Fractal Mirror is Ed van Haagen on bass, keyboards, and programming, Leo Koperdraat on vocals, guitars, and keyboards, and Frank L. Urbaniak on drums and percussion. Lyric credits go to Frank and Leo along with one Brian Watson, who also is credited for still images. Andre de Boer picks up credit for video images. I sense a band that puts as much into interpreting their music visually as they do playing and presenting it aurally...which is a very cool part of the prog process. For supporting evidence you need look no further than any King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, or Yes album sleeve.
Although relatively new to the prog music garden, Fractal Mirror has roots reaching as far back as the '80s when Leo and Ed began working together in the Netherlands. Riding the then-resurgence of progressive music, they connected with Frank via the Internet and started laying the tracks for what would be their 2013 debut release. Working across the ocean is obviously not an issue as Fractal Mirror is currently near completion of their second CD due later this year.
Serving number three this week is a tune called "Brian's Song." I can almost hear Adrian Belew in the background directing on this number, trying to build a hybrid of Echo & The Bunnymen, The New Order, and Marillion. The keyboards are almost cathedral-like while the drums keep a steady beat--holding the guitars up for display without drowning anyone out. The time and tempo changes are subtle and hit at just the right moments. Leo's voice is haunting; coming across both foreboding and melancholy. Fractal Mirror is quite adept creating a sound, building a mood, and telling a tale. They may consider themselves more pop/rock, but the prog influences ooze through like subliminal messages in a movie trailer.
The cut posted below is "The Fading Ghosts of Yesterday." Thus is an excellent introduction for the new listener; soothing vocals layered ever so smoothly over keyboards, guitars, and drums leading you down a corridor that opens into a ballroom of emotions. Fractal Mirror creates songs like a brilliant architect designs buildings...push the edge of possible just enough to inspire greatness. Learn more about Fractal Mirror at http://www.fractalmirror.net/index.html
We have reached the end of another week once more fellow progheads, and I am sure you will concur that while it went by quickly it was worth diving into. Fractal Mirror may not put themselves at forefront of the prog garden but they are undoubtedly more than just a "...pop/rock band with prog influences." Humility is a good trait to have as it tends to prevent arrogance, and Fractal Mirror brings an understated wallop to the prog garden. As you enjoy the music of Fractal Mirror, I will continue my search for all things prog. Until next week...