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Shadows & Mirrors, Aria (Nub Music)




Shadows & Mirrors, Aria (Nub Music)

From what I’ve seen, this has been lumped as darkwave, meaning it should be full of techno/electro sounds that are creepy, obsessed and outwardly menacing. It’s the third release from Illinois native Brian Diamond, the one-man crew who makes up Shadows & Mirrors, which has seen some minor successes up to this point. His shtick is being prolific, bragging of writing 500 songs for this project, which he undertook after going on a grunge-band bender from age 15 up until just a few years ago. But anyway, where were we, yes, darkwave. Tee-off track “The Stranger” has a nice crawling darkness to the opening part, which Skinny Puppy would have abandoned after maybe 10 seconds to move into something wildly noisy, but it just hangs around, eventually joined by Diamond’s imitation of Trent Reznor. Then it goes into monotone chugging, whereupon the adage about taking the boy out of the grunge scene rears its head and he turns into Layne Staley, the Alice in Chains guy. Things do get better, especially if you like She Wants Revenge and such (“I Don’t Mind”) or Depeche Mode (“Confession”). But the big mistake Diamond made here was buying big-dollar studio time (the famous Alchemy Studio in London) instead of hanging around his bedroom getting some depth into these songs. Honest try anyway. B- 




Thor & Friends, Thor & Friends (LM Dupli-cation Records)
CD Reviews: September 15, 2016

09/15/16
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



Thor & Friends, Thor & Friends (LM Dupli-cation Records)

I’d imagine that holding down the role of “multi-percussionist” for over a decade with the Swans has to come with its own psychological trips and traps. The band has, after all, put the “avant” in avant garde for over … well, their entire existence, so it’s no surprise that Thor Harris is often photographed looking like the nuttiest guy at your local Lollapalooza. He also invents his own mallet-struck instruments, if I didn’t tell you that yet, and the “friends” on this debut solo LP are two weird girls who specialize in appropriately related instruments like marimba and xylophone. This collection isn’t out to hurt anyone’s ears though, even when kickoff tune “White Sands” expends the last of its dreamy tropical steez and that tune’s followup “Whose Fingers” steps in with an essay seemingly focused on Swans-ish subterranean mole-man dread. No, what this wants to be is understated minimalist experimentalism with actually a lot going on, sort of an underground, (mostly) analog answer to Animal Collective’s late-Aughts stuff, earbud trips for curing craziness. Or at least muffling it a little.





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