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Fractal Mirror - Strange Attractors CD (album) cover

STRANGE ATTRACTORS

Fractal Mirror

 

Crossover Prog

2.91 | 16 ratings

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Windhawk
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Multinational band project FRACTAL MIRROR, to some extent inspired by a previous project that involved Dutch musicians Ed van Haagen and Leo Koperdraat had back in the 80's from what I understand, was formed in 2012 when they were joined by US drummer Frank Urbaniak. "Strange Attractors" is their debut album, and was self released back in 2013.

The progressive rock umbrella cover a lot of ground, but whether it also covers the paths taken by this multinational, presumably Holland based venture is a question without a definitive answer I suspect. It all depends on what elements you think are needed to be able to categorize an album into this category, a question of how important arrangements are as compared to structure. If you place your emphasis on the former, then this is an album you'll count in, if you emphasize the latter you probably won't understand why people mention this album in such a context at all.

Basically I find this album to consist of three different types of compositions: Songs that are singer/songwriter pieces at heart, embellished with some additional keyboards. Soft rock creations with a liberal amount of keyboard layers. And at last atmospheric laden creations with perhaps more of a synth pop feel to them, again heavily flavored with keyboards.

The general lack of alterations in pace and the fairly uniform shift in arrangements doesn't bring me any strong progressive rock vibes really, but the arrangements is another story. Mournful keyboards and a vast array of Mellotron textures is a key feature here, with faint traces of classic prog bands like Pink Floyd and, arguably, even a touch of Caravan on one occasion, applied to dark, brooding and mournful keyboard tapestries that come and go as smooth, subtly dramatic effects throughout. I will stress the faint trace though, as the moods are similar, familiar textures are used, but within a rather different context than the progressive rock giants of old. That I noted down Gary Numan and a-ha as possible references on a couple of tracks is telling I guess. There are songs here that I'd describe a meeting of minds between a-ha and Numan, flavored with Floydian atmospheres.

I really enjoy the dark, brooding atmospheres crafted here, but to a limit. I have grown to recognize and appreciate the sounds of the Mellotron, be it the real thing or one of the many good quality sampled versions of it, but there is such a thing as too much. I think the band does overdo it here, and part of the problem might be that they create too many moods that are too similar sounding I suspect. I did find the drumming to be a tad too pedestrian as well, longing for some occasional subtle rhythm details to enhance the total experience. That the lead vocals were kind of flat and accented isn't a positive detail on an album that features so many songs that are vocals dominated either, a great vocalist would have elevated the end result quite a bit.

Whether or not this is a progressive rock album I'll leave for others to decide, discussions like that tends to go on for a bit: I think I saw one that started in the 1980's that is still ongoing. But if you like and enjoy dark, atmospheric laden relatively straight forward pop/rock with liberal use of rich, layered tapestries of keyboards and Mellotron, of the kind that Pink Floyd and several neo progressive rock bands have been known to use, then Fractal Mirror's debut album "Strange Attractors" is a production you might want to have a go at. Especially if you are among those listeners that focus on the lyrics conveyed by the vocals rather than experiencing the vocals as more of an instrument in the overall context.

Windhawk | 3/5 |

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