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Andrew Chalk and Christoph Heemann, the core members of Mirror, have churned out countless expensive, gorgeously packaged LPs in highly countable numbers (typically under 400). The duo’s strategy has baffled me almost as much as it’s put me off, because their atmospheric music could easily find a much wider audience than the cabal of record collectors who are seduced by the bogus romance of self-imposed scarcity. Solaris departs from Mirror’s usual MO; it’s their first CD (albeit one packaged in a lovely LP-styled sleeve), and it’s not a limited edition. The differences don’t stop there. Previously Heemann and Chalk have maintained a certain musical density and continuity by relying on drones, but Solaris is quite sparse; although it’s not improvised in real time, it sounds more like AMM than Thomas Koner. Long clarinet tones, isolated prepared piano notes, and metallic reverberations mark a trail through the album-length piece’s empty spaces. Signal processing magnifies and warps individual sounds so that the woodwind sounds like a wind tunnel, tiny taps become echoing steps, and small scrapes become furry with static.
The change in material doesn’t lead to a diminishment of returns. Solaris goes beyond mere prettiness to sharpen one’s senses in a way that once again reminds me of AMM. Here’s hoping this record does so well that Mirror have no choice but to reissue their entire back catalog to the masses in all formats