SuicideGirls.com and others praise Thomas Anselmi and Mirror’s debut CD

Mirror is a just released album of cinematic, electronic pop music from Thomas Anselmi’s multi-media project of the same name produced by Vincent Jones and featuring performances by a star-studded cast of collaborators including Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan, Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro, Bowie pianist Mike Garson, and introducing chanteuse Laure-Elaine and teen actress Frances Lawson. The CD is being released by the Mirror Presents label. The great press continues to surface and I’ve attached a sampling of the latest below.

First launched at the New Forms Festival three years ago, the aesthetic of the Mirror song and video cycle is deeply rooted in the sounds and sights of erotic art and cinema. One can hear in the music the influence of film composers such as Francis Lai (Love Story, Bilitis) and Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet). The songs functioned as the soundtrack to immersive multi-performer shows that combine electronic pop music with theatricality and live video production.

—————————–

Mirror is haunting film noir music rife with sweetness and frailty, moodiness and seduction. Composer Thomas Anselmihelms the project, and with a host of guests, creates a distinct world of Brechtian proportions. The darkest pieces stand out most vividly, from the melancholic yet hopeful piano ballad “Nostalgia,” which features Depeche Mode’s mouthpiece, Dave Gahan on vocals, to the Casio cabaret of “City Lights” and the synth-driven instrumental piece, “Twentieth Century.” Anselmi’s creation seethes with a vibrance borne of superior concept and collaboration. Kristen Sollee/Big Takeover #45

Despite crashing and burning in a cloud of youthful excess at a point when they’d barely begun, Thomas Anselmi’s first band of note, Slow, left an indelible mark on the Canadian music scene. The punk rock band are still considered to be one of Canada’s all time greats, nearly a quarter century on from their all-to-brief heyday.

An infamous riot after a truncated gig at Vancouver’s Expo ’86 festival dealt the final blow to Slow. Anselmi regrouped with guitarist Christian Thorviston, forming alt rock band Copyright out of the carcass of Slow. For a while Copyright’s future looking promising, but their much-vaunted six-figure deal with Geffen soon soured, and a subsequent sideways move to BMG failed to reinvigorate their fortunes.

After the demise of Copyright, Anselmi spent time in Berlin before settling in Los Angeles. Taking absolute control of his destiny this time, Anselmi self-funded his next project, Mirror. He spent three years assembling Mirror’s self titled (and self-released) debut album, working in tandem on a multi-media live show to fully realize his vision for the project.

The album was produced by former Grapes of Wrath band member Vincent Jones, a fellow Canadian musician whose résumé as a hired gun includes albums by Dave Gahan, Sarah McLachlan and Morrisey. Anselmi was able to capitalize on Jones’ impressive connections, securing a stunning performance from the Depeche Mode singer for Mirror’s lead track. While such cameo appearances can often distract, Gahan’s haunting performance on “Nostalgia” adds to, as opposed to detracting from, the whole — Mirror’s music being an atmospheric homage to a future now past.

Nicole Powers: This album is very different from the music you made in your punk rock days. How does one make the leap from what you were doing with Slow to Mirror? Musically there’s quite a chasm there.

Thomas Anselmi: I guess just a few years ago I became a lot more interested in exploring music that was more familiar, and to create more of a dramatic, or a staging context, rather than it being a complete expression unto itself. I wanted to take music and use it more in quotations. I think that punk rock, and rock & roll in general, is very expressive, it’s expressive of the person, it’s sincere right? It’s like a direct expression, and Mirror’s not really that. These songs are more the soundtrack and part of an overall experience. They use familiar melodies in a way that manifests that experience — to help that experience. It’s really part of the whole show — and that whole experience is a lot more punk rock.

NP:

You talk about familiar, but in what way do you mean that? Do you mean there are melodic elements that can become familiar, or are you borrowing refrains from places that subliminally might be familiar?

TA:

I think it’s not so much that anything was consciously borrowed, or stolen, not so much that. It’s just that specifically, as a songwriter, I’ve spent a lot of time in my music career trying to be innovative. And one thing that stuck me was watching the way [David] Lynch would use music in films; Rather than being innovative, the music was used in a way that was familiar. In other words, anything that sounded kind of challenging melodically, I got rid of. I made everything in a way like a lullaby.

NP:

So in a way it’s like the anti-punk record.

TA:

In a certain way it’s an anti-punk record, as such, but as part of the whole, the whole is not that. The whole is pretty taxing.

NP:

It’s a very expansive sounding album, a total soundscape which is orchestral in parts. You wrote the songs prior to creating the sound with producer Vincent Jones. What were you writing the songs on?

TA:

I’ve written a lot of songs in the past where you write a part on piano or on guitar, most of this stuff came directly from the same melody, and was orchestrated around that. I would figure out what the chords were. I definitely wanted the album to sound very broken, like something far away, like almost the sound of something in the past, like the memory of a song you heard on the radio or something.

NP:

Given that brief, how did Vincent fulfill that?

TA:

He really understood it right away. Even before Dave [Gahan] sang “Nostalgia” we were talking about it, and I was trying to describe that feeling to him, and he said something like, “It’s as if that future that we were promised around the Second World War, the dream of that future that never really happened.” For instance something like synthesizers, you know, they sound so futuristic, but because of the way that, if you’ve been a music fan for a long time, synthesizers have also started to sound retro. They sound like the past as well. So it’s this dream of the future that appeared in the past.

NP:

How did the collaboration with Dave Gahan come about?

TA:

Vincent played with Dave, and he sent Dave what we were doing and Dave really liked it, and we asked him to sing it. I really wanted something special for that song. I can sing that song, and it was kind of a natural song for me to sing, but, with me singing it, it didn’t have that extra dimension that I was looking for. Of course Dave brought something I couldn’t have been looking for. He has such an incredible style, but also there’s the other part of it; it added something because of his history, and the fact that he is that to so many people, that a lot of people have so many memories that they attach to music that he’s sung.

NP:

That’s the thing, it add a whole other ironic level. Did Dave appreciate the irony of it — the Brits are big on irony.

TA:

I never discussed that. But I think that the video made that a little bit clearer, that extra element to the song.

NP:

The video is beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *