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Fractal Mirror

Crossover Prog

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Fractal Mirror Strange Attractors album cover
2.89 | 17 ratings | 5 reviews | 12% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. What's Inside (4:24)
2. The Fading Ghosts of Yesterday (4:31)
3. Brian's Song (5:40)
4. Fade Away (4:47)
- A Life in Darkness Suite:
5. Ending (2:54)
6. Insects (3:30)
7. Raising the Stakes (4:21)
8. Various Methods of Hunting (3:44)
9. Leave Me (3:10)
10. The Chair (4:17)

Total Time 41:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Leo Koperdraat / vocals, guitars, keyboards
- Ed Van Haagen / bass, keyboards, programming
- Frank Urbaniak / drums & percussion

- Don Fast / guitar solo (2)
- Charlotte Koperdraat / vocals (10)

Releases information

Artwork: Brian Watson

CD Self-released (2013, Netherlands)

Thanks to progshine for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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FRACTAL MIRROR Strange Attractors ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

FRACTAL MIRROR Strange Attractors reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This caught my attention due to my recent PA collaborator duties with the crossover team and I hence landed on this rather unique pop sound that hinted at stuff like Split Enz, Peter Murphy, Modern English, The Korgis, The Beloved, Psychedelic Furs and David Sylvian etc?, but all the tunes are lavishly anointed with massive mellotron blasts and quirky electronic arrangements. The band features Dutchmen Ed Van Haagen on bass, keyboards and programming as well as Leo Koperdraat on vocals, guitars, keyboards and lyrics and American Frank L. Urbaniak behind the drums, percussion and lyrics. I was also intrigued by the shimmering cover,plus the inclusion of a photographic artist as well as a video one, a truly complete strategy to woo any prog fan.

Truth is this is another fine example of this new wave of accessible prog that has championed new talents like Vienna Circle, Synaesthesia, the Opium Cartel and Gandalf's Fist among a slew of others, stretching even further the progressive boundaries. So how did we, as team, come to the conclusion that Fractal Mirror has a place here? Well, it's not because you have a mellotron that you automatically get a free prog pass. But it helps when the disc is literally bathing in its warmth! Truth is also that the material is stunning, both lyrically and instrumentally!

"What's Inside" shows off the mellotron cascades right from the get-go, no messing around! Leo sounds a lot like Richard Butler of P-Furs fame, not exactly the worst voice in New Wave pop! This is where the contrast between saccharine and unsettling first shows its true colors. Loopy synths and boom-boom drums add a Manzanera-like vibe, similar to Miss Shapiro on Diamond Head.

"The Fading Ghosts of Yesterday" illustrates the qualities that Fractal Mirror bring to the prog audience, a solid yet weird presentation of simple melodies and odd stylings, thoroughly bombastic expression amid a sense of bizarre, if one pays attention to the infinite little details and the conspicuous lyrics , which have a streak of genius that is hard to ignore.

Take a sterling piece like "Brian's Song" with its rollicking mood, initially vocoded voice like Flash and the Pan (remember them?) and a tempest of howling 'trons that show no mercy, eased only by fluttering flute acoustic guitar and a plaintive vocal that recalls Blackfield.

"Fade Away" is a mournful ride, a kaleidoscope reverie, highly drenched in psychedelia, the keys playing havoc with any consideration of poppiness, a minimalist middle section where the choir mellotron shines oh so brightly! Leo has a sombre tone to his vocal delivery, augmented nicely by big drums and a somewhat familiar sounding refrain. A wink and a nod to classic Porcupine Tree balladry, yet with a personal tinge that screams, "I Like!". Another totally satisfying tune.

Then, only to confound any naysayers and stamp purely prog accreditation to an already convincing disc a 5 part horror mini-epic entitled, "A Life in Darkness Suite" but offering up a taste first, thriftily entitled "A Life in Darkness-Ending". Dutch humor I guess, haha! A brief but forlorn introduction/finale with robotic percussion, hand claps and torrential keys, cool! Part One of the suite introduces "Insects", acoustic in flavor, a simply song with childlike vocal and puerile lyrics, purposefully about scientific discovery, "dissecting and cutting until it got bigger than me". But it's really about insanity and inhumanity, as depicted on the lugubrious "Raising the Stakes", where turbulence and paranoia enter the fray, the exaltation of a deranged and murderous mind. The mellotron evokes the silence of lambs, the ranting of a tortured mind "lingering in the dark". Segue into "Various Methods of Hunting", armed at first with creepy instrumentation and spooky synths, suddenly breezy and then bloody odd, shifting contrasts in a Kafka-esque delusion of conflicting emotions. Call it sweet pain, scary. "Leave Me" is the cry of a screwed up victim, amiably announcing " back to isolation, take your medication, all is left of your memories" , blurring the line between hunter and hunted, turning all protagonists into self-destruction . "The Chair" has some electric connotations, a final seat to Hell as Leo intones eerily "I can see the hatred through the window", the song being the final request before the "life flashes by before my eyes". The lyrics are manic, insane and utterly convincing. "They want to see me burn!" and then, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Toast! A final revisit of the Insects and the deal is done. This has to be one of the smartest suites in recent memory. Bravo, very well conceived !

I hate short albums that clock in under 50 minutes which is the only reason why this doesn't get a gold medal. Otherwise, a real tasty treat!

4.5 Self-similar Echoes

Review by kev rowland
2 stars The debut album from Dutch band Fractal Mirror has been gaining quite a lot of kudos in various quarters, with its combination of laid-back synth laden prog and alternative pop. Some of the keyboard sounds are very dated, and there is so much space in the music that one could drive a truck through it, and it moves from being incredibly complex to sheer simplicity, so it sounds like the just the sort of thing that would have me raving about it to the highest heavens. Well, one might think so. Instead, I find this a very cold album with a simplicity that seems contrived as opposed to na´ve, with vocals that I find poor as opposed to emotional. Yes, there are elements of Psychedelic Furs, New Order and Eels in the vocal approach, but with all of the faults and none of the benefits. But, even putting that to one side there isn't enough happening musically for me to find this consistently interesting and enjoyable. Getting to the end of the album the first time was a trial for me, as opposed to an event that I enjoyed, and playing it again was something that I had to do to so that I could see if the album grew on me as opposed to just reviewing it out of the box.

But no matter how many times I play this, I keep coming back to the fact that I don't think that it is a very good album, no matter what anyone else says. Plenty of other people are saying that this is wonderful, so maybe it is just me (and that won't be the first or last time when I am at odds with everyone else), but I can't see myself ever playing this again.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Fractal Mirror is a brand new group that has in its line-up Ed Van Haagen (bass, keyboards and programming), Leo Koperdraat (vocals, guitars, keyboards) - both from Netherlands - Frank L. Urbaniak (drums and percussion) - from the USA, a Multinational group you can say. Strange Attractors (2013) is their first full length album after one promotional EP called The Fading Ghosts Of Yesterday (2013).

First thing I noticed (and if you know the band you'll probably too) when I first played Strange Attractors (2013) is how similar Leo Koperdraat's voice is from Brian Molko voice (singer and guitar player from the UK trio Placebo) and from that first moment on is quite hard to not compare both till the end of the album.

Second thing is that Strange Attractors (2013) is an album that I would never call Progressive Rock, Fractal Mirror fall in a category I call Post Prog that for me is a style that doesn't work at all and in my opinion kills Prog Rock little by little every year. Just take a look on how many bands bet on this kind of music in the last 5 years or more, and Fractal Mirror is one of those. Strange Attractors (2013) is a mix of Indie/Alternative Rock with lots of Ambient sounds and many keyboards (that's the only Prog part of the album).

The album is well recorded and have interesting moments but the overall feeling that I have after listening the album a bunch of times is exactly the same as I have with another band I reviewed some time ago, the Italian Active Heed (review:, in general, the album is ok, but not from a Progressive Rock point of view.

For my personal taste it doesn't work at all as there's too much Pop and not many remarkable moments on the album. But, if your thing are bands like Psychedelic Furs, or the Post Prog of bands like the aforementioned Active Heed and Perfect Beings this is your thing.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The roots of this Dutch band can be found in mid-80's, when Ed van Haagen and Leo Koperdraat played in a band influenced by the likes of Twelfth Night, Pendragon, Marillion and, surprisingly, Canadians Terraced Garden.With lack of success and life moving on they found themselves playing more contemporary material with Pop and Alternative Rock vibes.Founding American drummer Frank Urbaniak via Facebook was the initial moments of Fractal Mirror.The two musicians begun writing music at their home studio and the drums for an upcoming album were recorded in a studio in New Jersey.The mixing took place in Trondheim, Norway by Rhys Marsh and the debut of Fractal Mirror came out in November 2013, titled ''Strange attractors''.

This would be another good yet ordinary Art Pop/Rock album, if the members didn't let their past influences come on surface, so ''Strange attractors'' revisits some of the vintage prog fundamentals and the Netherlands-based band combined them with atmospheric, melancholic and upbeat tunes in a well-crafted album, which sounds in the end like COLDPLAY and RADIOHEAD meet with GENESIS and late-60's KING CRIMSON.The tracks are quite short and the focus in on solid songwriting, romantic lyrics and voices and elaborate melodies, but the keyboard parts in particular have nothing to do with Pop Rock.Loads of impressive Mellotron in almost in every track and soaring synth deliveries from the later GENESIS/early MARILLION days add the appropriate progressive vibes and the retro color of old-school Prog in the process.The music is mostly atmospheric and dreamy with laid-back arrangements and a deep lyricism with the guitar work having an almost Post Rock feel, the addition of nostalgic keyboard flashes is great and the material ends up to be trully memorable and well-executed.Not an extended album, about 40 minutes long, but this is an excellent choice for non-disturbing, artistic Rock music with a dash of Classic Prog references.

An album, which can be regarded as the bridge between the old and new generation of Prog listeners.The mightly Mellotron stands next to the accesible and atmospheric modern stylings and the result is efficient to say the least.Recommended.

Review by 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.

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