This is the fourth release from Dutch based Fractal Mirror, their first for Bad Elephant Music – it’s actually the first that I’ve had the pleasure to listen to, and I have to say it’s a good one. I acknowledge that this will not be to everyone’s taste, although those who enjoy Wind and Wuthering and similar pastoral or folk influenced prog will find much to enjoy here.
Opener Mind the Gap starts in a bright and breezy manner, quite strident at times with subtly suppressed acoustic guitars set against a shimmering arpeggio. It gets off to great effect with a sort of Beatles feel to it – no bad thing in my view – and the great refrain “I dreamt I was invisible, I’d fade from every eye, or hide in small dimensions, you all would pass me by and never know I was here”. Great lyrics from a band who describe themselves primarily as songwriters, and it shows with their clever wordplay and the strong melodies that make such an impression. A great opener that makes one hopeful for all that is to follow.
Next is Book with a very laid back, almost West Coast singer/songwriter vibe to it and good harmonies. There are more clever lyrics like, “She’s like a book that can’t be read, with all the stories in her head.”. There’s a very fine melody to this song too with subtle use of Mellotron. I enjoyed the words, how the girl is many things to many people, like a book that can be read in different ways. Clever and memorable.
Beyond the Pale is another upbeat shuffle with keyboard flourishes. This atmospheric album really grows on you and takes on greater significance the more you hear it, which is for me the way music should be, unfolding itself around you as you allow it to envelop you. A relaxing and rewarding experience for me, this song also has a very tidy guitar break just before the 3 minute mark, concise but beautifully executed, giving the song momentum and lift. A marvellous song.
Next is White Sands, another accomplished song with chirpy keyboards and more Mellotron. It’s rather more subdued than the previous songs with a touch of melancholy to it but still has a very memorable hook, lifted by another magnificent guitar solo. This song has more than a touch of Marillion about it and is another fine piece of work. Silver is brief but lively, continuing to captivate and delight with another fine burst of guitar, then it’s on to the title track, the longest piece on the album. With keyboards to start it opens up into a melodic vein with more clever and intelligent words and a strong refrain, “another day, another got away, the world just keeps us marching on”. Another fine song that gives space for the band to stretch out.
There’s a brief interlude of keyboards from Tom Doncourt with Snow, setting up more imaginative and intelligent words, before melding into Hey You which ponders on how only time can bring the new dawn and the moral of your story forgotten long ago.
This is an album of wistfulness and lost longings, unfulfilled expectations, but it is not miserable or dirge-like in any manner and there is a rich vein of optimism sewn throughout the songs.
Close to Vapour is a very fine album and one must applaud these guys for their continued persistence and their efforts in making quietly intelligent pop/progressive music that really deserves a much wider audience. It’s an album that will repay diligent listeners and its multi-levelled songs have a rich vein of talent woven into them.
01. Mind The Gap (5:21)
02. Book (4:26)
03. Beyond The Pale (4:51)
04. White Sands (5:24)
05. Silver (4:19)
06. Close To Vapour (7:56)
07. Snow (2:06)
08. Hey You (4:57)
09. Tabula Rasa (5:47)
10. The Ever Rain (5:43)
Total Time – 50:47
Leo Koperdraat – Voice, Guitars, Keyboards, Mellotron, Recorder
Frank Urbaniak – Drums & Percussion, Lyrics
Brett Krull – Guitars, Keyboards, Bass, Percussion, Vocals
Ed Van Haagen – Keyboards (tracks 3 & 10)
Tom Docourt – Composition & keyboards (track 7)
Record Label: Bad Elephant Music
Country of Origin: The Netherlands/U.S.A.
Date of Release: 23rd February 2018