Easy-Listening, Melancholic
"Elegant pop-rock as only the English know how to make it... even if the musicians of Fractal Mirror are Dutch."
CORTO1809 (11.04.2018)  
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With four albums released in four years, Fractal Mirror keeps a most legit pace. Obviously, the statistics are a bit flawed if we take into account that their first two albums were released within six months on the same year in 2014. Nevertheless, the band usually comes back to remember us  their new offspring entitled "Close to Vapour"the even  and current years in this beginning of 2018.

For this occasion, the trio is a duo. A too busy schedule did not allow Ed van Haagen, bassist and keyboardist of the band, to take part in the creation of this record in which he makes only short appearances. To replace him, it is Brett Kull (Echolyn), a regular member of the band since the beginning, who plays the special guest.

Since its beginnings, Fractal Mirror is known for its music made of a curious mash-up of pop, progressive rock and alternative rock. If "Close to Vapour" does not depart from the rule, the balance of ingredients is slightly different from the previous opuses. Indeed, the pop which was used as a coating for "Garden of Ghosts" or "Slow Burn 1" becomes one of the main ingredients of "Close to Vapour". As a proof, the first five tracks with melodies as simple as limpid, avoiding any adventurous break, any sudden change of theme, any rhythmic complexity. Which is far from being a reproach because it is very difficult to make pop songs able to avoid banality and mawkishness. Fractal Mirror succeeds perfectly in avoiding these pitfalls, delivering us songs that are at the same time singing, joyful or melancholic, refined, simple and bright without being easy. No instrumental solo, but arpeggios, riffs, counterpoints that give depth and interest to each track. One thinks sometimes of the Beatles ('Mind the Gap'), sometimes of Tears for Fears ('White Sounds'). Pop as only the English can make it... even if the musicians of Fractal Mirror are Dutch.

The tone of the album changes slightly from the eponymous title. If the second half of the album goes back to a seductive pop with 'Snow' and the excellent 'Hey You' which makes you want to move, 'Close to Vapour', 'Tabula Rasa' and 'The Ever Rain' show some more progressive tendencies even if the melodies remain easily accessible and especially deliciously pleasant. But these three compositions leave some spaces allowing the instruments to loose themselves, like this fluted Mellotron and these passages of organ and genesian guitar on 'Close to Vapour' for example, whereas the woolly layers of keyboards on 'The Ever Rain' evoke rather Pink Floyd.

These tracks will distract those who might have found that the album was going in a loop because of its simplicity, without annoying those who were seduced by a first part that was certainly pop but very elegant. By keeping the right balance between accessible progressive like the last Steven Wilson and inventive pop-rock like the Beatles, Fractal Mirror offers us today its best record.

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01. Mind the Gap (05:21)
02. Book (04:26)
03. Beyond the Pale (04:51)
04. White Sounds (05:24)
05. Silver (04:19)
06. Close to Vapour (07:56)
07. Snow (02:06)
08. Hey You (04:57)
09. Tabula Rasa (05:47)
10. The Ever Rain (05:43)

Frank L. Urbaniak: Batterie / Percussions
Leo Koperdraat: Chant / Guitares / Claviers / Mellotron
Brett Kull: Guitares / Basse / Claviers / Invité / Percussions / Choeurs
Ed Van Haagen: Invité / Claviers (3,10)
Tom Doncourt: Invité / Claviers (7)
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