It can be argued that collaborations have borne some of the most exciting and interesting musical releases of recent years. To support this argument, one could certainly cite the various tracks released over the Internet by Four Tet and Burial, which have effectively combined Kieran Hebden’s sense of melody and interest in complex rhythms with William Bevan’s pursuit of dark, melancholic atmospheres to create some truly unique work; as well as other exciting collaborations such as those between Bjork and Dirty Projectors, and Modeselektor and Thom Yorke.
Mirrorring – the collaborative project between Jesy Fortino and Liz Harris (better known as Tiny Vipers and Grouper, respectively) – is no exception. Comparing their album 'Foreign Body' with other recent collaborative works, the most obvious point of reference would be the 2009 collaboration between experimental electronic producer Christian Fennesz and Mark Linkous, the late frontman of experimentally-minded alt-country project Sparklehorse.
In a way similar to the Fennesz / Sparklehorse collaboration, 'Foreign Body' can be characterised by its combination of the pastoral, rustic, earthly sounds of folk and Americana with the more ‘ethereal’ and unearthly sounds typical of ambient drone and electronic music. This combination is especially evident on the two tracks which open this album, ‘Fell Sound’ and ‘Silence From Above’: the former track begins as two repeating chords of hazy Twin Peaks-style ambience, with the gradual addition of heavily-reverberated vocals and the soft plucking of guitar strings. The latter track is the most overtly folk-influenced track on the album, beginning as a fairly traditional song comprised of acoustic guitar and Fortino’s vocals, and ending with the gradual swelling of these aforementioned droning ambient timbres.
What makes this collaborative effort particularly significant, however, is how it can be said to take on an identity beyond that of its two collaborators. There has been a lot of effort, it seems, to present 'Foreign Body' as a highly singular, individual project; as well as being visible in the fact that the title of both the project and the release makes no reference to either Grouper or Tiny Vipers individually, and in the album being very much a ‘complete package’ with its cover art (a somewhat abstract painting resembling the reflection of the sunset on the ocean) being an extremely fitting visual companion to the tone and mood set by the music contained therein. This sense is also reflected in the music.
Neither Fortino nor Harris can be said to take centre stage throughout much of this album: with the exception of ‘Silence from Above’ and ‘Mirror of Our Sleeping’, the music on this record is composed of elements of both participants’ styles combined to create something unique, individual, and definitely worthy of anyone interested in the distinctive sonic worlds created by Grouper and Tiny Vipers on their own.
Posted: Fri 6 July 2012