Mirrorring – Foreign Body (2012)

Foreign Body, the new sounds of collaborative effort Mirrorring, comprised of Grouper and Tiny Vipers.

I’m not familiar with Tiny Vipers’s (Jesy Fortino) work, but I am familiar with Grouper’s (Liz Harris) fantastic drone and noise style. If the Grouper side of things was anything to go by, I anticipated lots of reverb, delicate acoustic guitar, tonnes of drone and a smattering of utterly incomprehensible vocals. I wasn’t far off.

Hold up, that wasn’t me trying to paint a bad picture, far from it in fact. Grouper’s last album AIA was devastatingly beautiful, and this Mirrorring collaboration does something to temper her usually deep, dreamy fog.

At its core, as with Grouper’s own work, this is actually acoustic, and the first glimpse we really see of that foundation comes out with “Silent From Above”. The drone is left behind and there is a strong focus on acoustic guitar and Fortino’s vocals. As with all the tracks it is introspective, delicate and heartfelt. It gets very intimate, you can hear the scratches of fingers along the guitar strings (take that lo-fi), and the hushed, breathy vocals just sweep you up and waft you carefully along a folksy stream. “Cliffs” again takes Fortino’s essence with a very folk sound, but we can feel the dark menace of Harris’s drone lying just beneath the surface, barely restrained. For nearly 10 minutes we witness the tussle between Fortino and Harris, each one vying for front spot, hypnotically shifting the music back and forth but ultimately with no clear winner.

“Drowning The Call” rotates the focus around onto Grouper instead, seeing the return of those heavily processed guitars awash in an unusually warm haze of drone. The vocals are less lyrically focused and are so indistinct that they serve only as textures, the two women stacking sensual harmonies together. It’s all quite wonderful really, just bathed in sunlight and not having a care in the world. “Mine” falls in a similar vein but loses some of the warmth and fuzziness, oscillating back to that folk sound again. Laden with textures and processing the vocal clarity remains buried, keeping the atmosphere suitably mysterious.

“Mirror Of Our Sleeping” keeps the folk/drone interplay going right until the very end, forcing us to lean forward in our seats as the music becomes super minimal and quiet, lulling and soothing the listener into a trance, cooling us down as we leave the musical tennis match behind in a bleak drone fuzz.

Despite how minimal, mysterious and ethereal the music here is there is a surprising amount of “stuff” going on, and is excellent listening whether you want to sit and experience or just have in the background. Don’t let this one pass you by; it is careful and considerate and very beautiful.