Mirror is an immersive, multi-media production rooted in erotic cinema and cabaret. The Mirror CD is the soundtrack to that production – lushly orchestrated retro electro pop, masterminded by Thomas Anselmi (who as a teenageer fronted legendary Canadian punk outfit Slow.Â His special guests included David Gahan (Depeche Mode) , Mike Garson (David Bowier) and Joe Dellesandro – one of the Warhol superstars. Early press response has been gratifying and I attach a sampling of the most recent breaks.
Thomas Anselmi, in collaboration with Vincent Jones, has spent the past several years working on the multimedia Mirror project, incorporating cycles of video and live performance to create a cabaret-esque production that blurs the lines between erotic art and cinema. This soundtrack to his project is a veritable cornucopia of dark pop textures the likes of which will surely put many as much in the mind of the ’60s when Nico released Chelsea Girl as in the ’80s and early ’90s when Angelo Badalamenti released albums with Julie Cruise for David Lynch’s films. Pop-inspired melodies drift upon ambient waves of melancholic drama, transporting the listener into a world of gothic sensuality and sorrow. Beginning with “Nostalgia,” which features Depeche Mode vocalist Dave Gahan in one of his most passionate performances, Mirror immediately presents a sonic landscape of divergent synth textures and classical undertones, with a grinding guitar solo to boot. Teen actress Frances Lawson appears on three tracks, her high-pitched voice bittersweet and tear-inducing as she sings with all of the grief and distress of a tortured diva broken down from years of resentment and heartache. This is especially so on “World of Darkness,” in which she and Ronan Boyle duet like star-crossed lovers as all-encompassing pads flutter throughout, a sparse electro beat keeping things nice and slow, guaranteeing that listeners will find themselves swaying left and right, fighting back the tears. Laure-Elaine’s voice is equally heartrending, just a tad breathier, which is befitting the almost whispering tones of “From No One With Love,” which could certainly remind some of David Bowie’s early Berlin period, particularly Low, albeit slower though no less intriguing with its flourishes of ghostly electronic tweaks. The same could be said of “Fat Girl” as the music will undoubtedly bring to mind comparisons to Bowie’s “Sense of Doubt” and “NeukÃ¶ln” from “Heroes”, with Anselmi’s voice harkening to John Lennon. The one purely instrumental track, “Twentieth Century” meshes gothic classical arrangements with avant-garde electronic composition, the track playing on every conceivable blackened mode. Lyrically, each song sends the listener into further depths of emotional turmoil, touching on all ends of the spectrum of love from the confusion and lament of loss to the illusions of happiness that precede it. Mirror will not be an easy album to listen to for anyone who has loved and lost, while at the same time providing perhaps the most perfectly downhearted soundtrack for just such an occasion. With additional performances by Mike Garson and Phil Western, Mirror is not only a wonderful accompaniment to unique multimedia experience, but is also perhaps one of the most genuinely saddening yet beautiful pieces of music you’ll ever hear. Ilker Yucel/Regenmag.com 2/3
In the music business, fame and fortune rarely come with being first, as Tom Anselmi understands.
“Tom who?” you may be wondering.
For starters, his superbly slobbish Vancouver band, Slow, was grunge before the Sub Pop label turned it into a marketing gimmick. For an encore, Anselmi’s next group named themselves Â© before Prince became known as “the symbol guy,” and then knocked out a progressive rejoinder to alternative rock before Radiohead released their debut single.
But rather than sit around griping about the money he missed by being slightly ahead of the crowd, Anselmi kept pushing ahead in his search for new means of expression, and that’s led to his current independent recording and performance project, Mirror.
If you can imagine an Andy Warhol-style Exploding Plastic Inevitable happening directed by David Lynch and scored by Serge Gainsbourg, you’ll have some idea of why the Vincent Jones-produced Mirror recording (see myspace.com/mirrorav) is really just an introduction to Anselmi’s darkly twisted audio/visual extravaganza.
“It’s my way of trying to break free of the conventions of rock, where you have an assembled audience watching four dudes with instruments on a stage,” says Anselmi.
“You know how on The Lawrence Welk Show, when they were going to do a country song they’d have the stage set up with a couple of hay bales and maybe a cardboard cut-out of a fence as a sort of visual suggestion to accompany the performance? Well, the presentations we’ve been doing are kinda like a television variety show where the songs are performed as vignettes in various areas of a space set up with appropriate visual cues. What happens in each room is broadcast onto a big screen so the audience can see everything unfold. As much as I hate the term ‘multi-media,’ we are using holograms.”
Much as a filmmaker uses characters to tell the story, Anselmi says, he employs notable voices like celebrated Depeche Mode baritone Dave Gahan, who turns Mirror’s opening ballad, Nostalgia, into a stadium-sized anthem, with some brilliant keyboard contributions from David Bowie pianist-of-choice Mike Garson. A video clip of Gahan singing Nostalgia went viral in Europe a few months ago, causing a serious stir amongst the Mode hordes and a significant download windfall.
“Originally, I envisioned the song as something out of a Disney movie sung by Snow White to a little bird perched on her finger. That changed when Dave got ahold of it,” says Anselmi.Tim Perlich/Now 1/6/09
. The moment I pressed play on the CD player, I was drawn into it like a moth to a fire. I guess there’s something about their melancholic sounds that I can relate to, especially with the rain jabbing against my window pane as I write this. It’s almost melancholic to the point where it actually sounds like fulfillment of some sorts instead of dragging you down into a depressive state. It also helps to have friends like Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode bless the album with his most unique and tortured voice in “Nostalgia” as the album begins. The musical layers of this album are quite extraordinary with no shortage of strings, piano, orchestral sounds, and deep lyrics that take you to another place. That’s the type of records that make you feel good that you listened to it all the way through without any dissapointments. Track 2 “Nowhere” serves as the little ray of sunshine in this dark themed album and is by far my personal favorite. Frances Lawson lends her entrancing vocals on ‘Nowhere’ and that song really just stands out from the rest. “From No One With Love” is a dark and lovely love song that really comes alive with those great lyrics. The album is a great listen and will indeed take the listener to a place where melancholy takes hurt by the hand and consoles it. I was quite surprised of how much I liked the album but I couldn’t help but fall in love with Mirror. I just wished there was more info about this band since they’re kind of in the dark as to who is in Mirror and what actually makes up Mirror. Other than that, pick this album up if you dig melancholic music with a touch of good hurt. Gian Erguiza frantikmag.com 2/6
After playing in Slow and Copyright, which earned a lot of critical acclaim, Thomas Anselmi took shape of his new vision and brought it to life at the New Forms Festival. Mirror, the latest project to emerge from Anselmi’s mind, is described as a multi-media project that takes on his brand electro-pop and through their live shows they bring the music to a whole other level. So what exactly does all of this mean? Great question and we were able to catch up with Thomas to chat with him about what exactly a multi-media project is, the new Mirror album, working with members of Depeche Mode, David Bowie’s band, and more.
1. Mirror was first launched three years ago at the New Forms Festival. Why did you pick that particular stage to launch this new project?
Sometimes it can be pretty limiting performing in traditional venues. We like to use the whole space, it’s exciting when everyone is supportive of that. Sometimes in a club, fire regulations and general staging issues mean we have to pare down the show. So doing these multi-media events where people are genuinely commited to doing something new can be great. Also the audience is expecting something outside of a traditional concert framework.
2. Can you describe the music of Mirror for someone that has never heard it?
An am radio playing in a factory.
3. It has been stated that Mirror was a multi-media project of yours. What exactly does that mean? What is a multi-media project?
Really, when you consider music videos, technology and performance strategies used in concerts, the internet etc., any current pop act is a multi media project. but in MIRROR we play with all of those things. We use them to perform.A lot of people from all artistic disciplines contribute to MIRROR. Interactive people like Haig Armen,video people like Sean Starke, painters like Ronan Boyle, actors like Joe Dallesandro, the list goes on.
4. You collaborated with members of Depeche Mode, Bowie’s band, etc. How did you select the outside artists for this project and why did you decide that using them was a must?
Everyone involved in MIRROR was a friend or someone we admired. If I thought of someone to use, we just asked. That really is a product of the new digital world. The ease of communication,sharing files for collaboration etc. Also the lack of label involvement makes it easier to follow your dreams without negotiation.
5. You worked with producer Vincent Jones. What was that experience like and what did Vincent bring to the studio that helped shape the overall sound of the album?
Vincent has a talent for giving musical shape to abstract ideas.
6. Which one song from the album stands out as your personal favorite and why?
I feel the most affection for the track City Lights which I sing with Laure-Elaine and starring one of my favorite actors, Joe Dallesandro.
7. How important have outlets like the internet sites like myspace, itunes, etc. been to helping you get your music out there?
The internet has levelled the means of distribution, and this has made it possible to communicate directly with your audience. The problem remains having something to communicate.
8. You are well known for your live shows. What does a Mirror live show offer that simply spinning the album doesn’t?
MIRROR is a dream manifested by flesh and digital technology. The album contains songs from MIRROR.
9. You spent time playing in the bands Slow and Copyright. What did you learn from playing in those bands that you have carried with you into your live shows now?
Rock and roll is focused on breaking down the barrier between the performer and audience. When I was performing in my youth, I wanted literally to assault the audience, and often did. MIRROR is more concerned with extending and strengthening that barrier.
10. What piece of advice can you offer to someone that is looking to break into the music industry?
The joy and freedom one feels in the process is what’s worth chasing. We work, we make love, we grow old , s, then it’s over. Losing oneself in music allows us exist outside of time.
Jeffrey Kurtis/GuestlistMagazine.com 2/5