By: Jake Murray
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Music, in it’s inherent roots, can be dated back to the beginnings of communication and societies. In one of its earliest forms, music was the driving force behind the tribal ritual, in which all people of the village would congregate to celebrate a hunt, a marriage, mourn a death or praise gods to bring good weather and other such things. This musical ceremony is still undertaken in in various parts of the world: the tribes of African plains, the aboriginal of the Australian outback, the Amazonian forest people, and in the musky London clubs hosting Gum Takes Tooth. Mirrors Fold is the the second entrancing long-play by the outfit conjuring imagery of fires and ghosts, of ritual sacrifice and broken synthesisers.
If you imagine releasing Lightning Bolt into a pit with Battles and HEALTH, then ordered them to fight to the death or face being eaten alive by giant ferocious chameleons, ‘Mirrors Fold’ is the perfect album opener to demonstrate that sound. Rabid, schizophrenic and all the while deeply atmospheric; it’s no wonder the album is named after its opening track as it couldn’t better encompass the ethos of the entire record. The intriguing thing about Mirrors Fold is that it seems to be a veritable shit-mix of influences, stirred together to create something completely unique (but that’s what real art is anyway). The group swing between the spooky, atmospheric post-something [a-la APSE] and the spluttering, robot vomit we’re more inclined to hearing onstage at a Holy Fuck show or from The Knife’s recent material.
Having absorbed such a large amount of references already you must at this point be thinking “This can’t possibly sound like all those things at once?!” well, you’re right and wrong. See, the strength of Mirrors Fold is that while it all holds up to paint this total Dali-inspired canvas, it’s the diverse web of scenes (sorry, songs) that reveal on closer inspection the intricacies and meticulous detail that’s hidden under the splatter of madness. See, moments like ‘White Fear’ and ‘This Perfect Surface’ early on in the record are swamped in reverb and bizarre sonic hiccups bursting through the seams, while perfectly balanced and contrasted by the more rhythmic and controlled ‘Buried Fires’ and ‘Sex Markings’. This black/white contrast is clearly a deliberate recurrent element through order and chaos, as tracks appear carefully grouped together and even separated by ‘book-ends’ (for lack of a better name). ‘Surveillance’ and ‘Over, Below and Between the Roofs of Your Past Lives’ stand between these clusters of songs; experiments in ambient sound-design to give the listener a breather and reflect [no pun intended] on the sonic bombardment.
As I mentioned earlier Mirrors Fold seems to be a very conscious effort. The music appears bizarre and messy on the surface, when in fact it’s very thoroughly arranged and this is evident for the album as a whole. Interestingly two of the biggest standout moments on the record are two of the most different, breaking the tribal glitch mould: ‘Bone Weapon’ is, as the name would suggest, as heavy as a grunting triceratops, with all the slug and muscle to go with it. The second being ‘Wych Elm’, the album closer, a long-evolving steady piece that gradually swells and distorts without prediction. With no moment in time/tune/this plane of existence for very long the piece serves as a thoughtful, focussed closer to draw in the listener to a certain end. But it is also a disorienting listen and somewhat exhausting at 13 minutes of craziness, after 40 or so minutes of heavy and relentless craziness, and this was something I found interesting when playing the entire album or parts of the album to others.
Mirrors Fold while not the longest record in the world requires a certain amount of stamina and patience; there’s an endurance test laid down, like some sort of crimson gauntlet, by Gum Tales Tooth and they dare you to accept the challenge. For this reason the record, being as dense as it is, might not appeal to some people on the first or second listen… but do persevere! Perhaps another form of release, given the interludes, might have been a series of long singles/short EPs that would allow people to digest it on a more manageable level? But, this isn’t SWANS! The tracks aren’t 35 minutes long and the album isn’t 2 hrs long, so pull your bloody socks up and fill your boots, kid.