Braeyden Jae – fog mirror (Whited Sepulchre Records, 2016)


Have you ever thought about your peripheral vision, about what you can see at the edges of your perception where sight fades away into a mysterious grey vignette, and what lies beyond? In the guitar bendings of Jae’s newest production, summoning the spirits of other luxurious electroacoustic champions like Belong and Fennesz, we find ourselves ruminating on perception and obfuscation of vision, losing ourselves within the warm light of its frequently fringing cacophonic currents.

Deep reservoirs of bleary philosophising find themselves in opener “vanishing procession”, an undulating myriad of overlapping drone textures fighting for space and presence. Within its depths there’s a calm placidity, a foundational collectedness reflected in its slow and concerted turnovers, but the surface churns far more proactively, new chords seeking this way and that with complex hydrodynamic turbulence. The entire visage is given a sense of age too, its surface blistered with pops and crackles and a vinyl fuzz that catch on these worn and reworked feelings, oft reexplored grooves of thought that only erode further away from understanding with time.

It collapses into the heady obliterations of “more washed feeler”, the densest and most frenetic of the 5 pieces; we quickly become lost in an impenetrable haze of distortion and complex noise evocations, the textures of the guitar totally stripped to a seared shell of its former self. The competing layers of noise are difficult to push through but on the other side “obscured and waiting” lies in far more digestible ambient territory, piano strokes evenly suspended in a light mist of humming drones, the tortured air settling at last. It’s very reminiscent of Tomasz Bednarczyk’s delicate piano-laced works actually, its fragile chords hanging on the edge of being smothered and consumed in thought again.

The might of “more washed feeler” never returns though, the remaining two pieces more content to languish in warm and inviting convalescence; “two mirrors looking” is almost playful as it finds itself trapped in those endlessly entertaining infinity mirrors, little acoustic guitar pickings rocking back and forth as the endless drone pedals disappear off into the mysterious distance. It’s seductively rich and inviting, thrumming with wonder as it peers through this visual spectacle and hunts for a better position, like a child seeking the impossible end of this bizarre reflective occurrence. But like the tantalising edges of peripheral vision it vanishes from sight, bending out of alignment and into a grey, lightless nothing through which we cannot perceive. It comes to a head in the listless, elongate closing oscillations of “fogged placer”, a 12 minute journey through sun-baked guitar chords that seem smoothed and controlled, chords smeared into almost synth-like tones, cycling volumetrically through a satisfyingly decoherent mulch of sonic rumblings.

Peering into the space you cannot see clearly is the most tantalising sensation of all, the feeling of the unknown being probed and explored the very thing that drives human curiosity. The fog of distortion that Jae lays down here invites the same playful excitement and the same deep anxiety that plagues us all when faced with uncertainty, but that deep yearning for information and closure invites us tantalisingly in on inviting beds of warm luxuriousness, incentivising us to find a satisfying end to our questions.