In February 2017 the Reader ran a feature about Jaime Fennelly, who makes exquisitely crafted, meditative music under the name Mind Over Mirrors. The story was tied to a new album, Undying Color (his debut for the increasingly impressive Paradise of Bachelors label), but Fennelly was more excited about a multimedia project that was then more than a year away—and now it’s finally ready for the public. The public appears equally ready for it: the first two live performances of Mind Over Mirrors’ Bellowing Sun, at the Museum of Contemporary Art on April 6 and 7, sold out a month ago. (The museum recently added a third, at 10 PM on Friday, April 6.) That same Friday, Paradise of Bachelors releases a dazzling recording of the music from Bellowing Sun.
Bellowing Sun features the same musicians Fennelly worked with on Undying Color: drummer Jon Mueller, singer and percussionist Janet Bean, and fiddler Jim Becker. On the earlier recording, the three of them added overdubs to elaborate tracks Fennelly had already cut using a pedal harmonium, synthesizers, and electronics. On the new record, by contrast, their contributions feel and sound much more integrated and collaborative—though this richly textured opus, which totally eclipses every previous Mind Over Mirrors effort, likewise required tons of postproduction work (Fennelly mixed and produced it with Tortoise’s John McEntire).
Fennelly has worked with vocals before, notably on 2015’s The Voice Calling with singer Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux), but he ups the ante in terms of compositional vision on Bellowing Sun, often layering Bean’s melodic chanting in mesmerizing patterns. Mueller’s thundering drums add bottom end and depth as much or more than they add rhythm, melding in a simpatico fit with Fennelly’s rich, pulsing synthesizers and lush harmonium drones and Becker’s draggy fiddle, which bridges the gap between rustic old-timey sounds and Tony Conrad-style minimalism. I’m still grappling with the album’s ambitious sprawl, which weaves together various threads Fennelly has followed over the years—new age, Indian classical music, drone, Krautrock, minimalism—into a spectacular, cohesive whole that envelops the listener in color and rhythm. Below you can hear one of the most impressive tracks, “Matchstick Grip,” highlighted by Bean’s voice.
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