The whole point of inventing the harmonium was to make an organ-like instrument that was portable. But in the fall of 2011 Jaime Fennelly, a member of Peeesseye who records solo as Mind Over Mirrors, turned this virtue on its head by flying across the Atlantic to lay hands on one. These two releases are chiefly products of his sojourn in a repurposed lockmaster’s house in Antwerpen, Belgium, which is now used as an artist’s residence. The instrument in question is a positive pipe organ (yep, that’s its proper name; it’s pronounced po-si-TEEV, keyboard nerds), a somewhat more upscale variety of luggable organ than the Indian harmonium that Fennelly usually uses.
Mind Over Mirrors’ music is all about saturated sound. Fennelly plays his pump organ through a battery of oscillators and effects that extend and distort its tones to obtain in-the-red highs, chest-rattling mids, and low notes as bulbous and squeezable as a slightly underinflated inner tube. On previous releases he’s augmented this set-up with piano and applied it to a variety of sonic forms, but on these records he bears down on the churn of repeated patterns with remorseless intent. The Dirty Knobby single, which comes wrapped in a swell color sleeve that depicts another Belgian art space set up in a huge old greenhouse, contrasts keyboards as well as velocities. The Antwerpen track “Emblem” is a slow march through the low frequencies, paced so that the heaviest smoker could keep up whilst dragging his oxygen tank down a cobble-stoned sidewalk. On the other side, “This Thing Ain’t Gonna Be Floating Too Much Longer Now” picks up the pace and the pitch, perhaps reflecting the impatient pace of Chicago’s foot traffic, and its repetitious cycles through a few notes are even more dogged. Unlike the rest of the music under discussion here, Fennelly recorded it at home with his regular harmonium. Even so, it doesn’t sound drastically different from the keyboard Fennelly crossed an ocean to play. Maybe he was really lured by the chance to spend a couple weeks quaffing the local brews? Who could blame if that were so? Whatever his motive, the results are a pretty swell introduction to the MOM sound.
Small Portion comprises just two tracks, both of which are around ten minutes long. “Barely Spun (Again)” maintains the trance-inducing lockstep of Near Your Dwelling’s tracks, while “Curious Shape” freezes into a cloud of gray feedback before resuming motion at a crawl. Essentially this is a cassingle, and it exemplifies both the virtues and pitfalls of its format. MOM’s jams benefit from duration, accumulating hypnotic effect as the minutes tick over, so the option to put this thing in a reversible deck and let it play all day is most welcome, but that effect could be undermined by the stretches of empty tape at the end of each side. The muffling effect of tape magnifies the music’s bulbosity, which may or may not suit your taste; personally I’d rather hear both tracks splayed across a twelve inch record and spinning at 45 rpm, but maybe we have to wait for the techno remix to get that? The tape comes in an edition of 125, and 500 of the singles were pressed on black vinyl. (http://www.dirtyknobby.com) (http://www.digitalisindustries.com)