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22 Years in the Making, an Impeccable Debut – “Motion and Picture” from Chicago band MIIRRORS

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ac • cre • tion


the process of growth or increase, typically by the gradual

accumulation of additional layers or matter.

Well beyond the obvious of prose and poetry, language and art, in a manner correspondent to sound and instrument, to heart the the human voice, necessarily intersect, are in fact locked in something of a symbiotic embrace where one without the other would eventually die away, gasping in a vacuum. Whereas some by snotty reflex will turn to the pithy old saw “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” (widely misattributed and in any case struck a death blow by Robert Christgau), the truth is language is all we’ve got to describe, well, just about anything and frankly, now we think of it, anyone that doesn’t understand melody as wordless poetry deserves more pity than scorn. I say all this as a way to both underscore our – ironically – unspoken writers code here at SEM and, more to the particular point, to build some context beneath this review’s somewhat odd, unexpected beginning.

That word, accretion, is one we’ve turned to fairly often over the years to convey the sense of innate construction some songwriters seem to possess like a sixth sense. Notable for its relative rarity, it’s an attribute that allows, if not compels, a level and type of submersion that in turn makes for the type of sublime escape we turn to art for in the first place and MIIRRORS, on their long-gestated debut full-length – just released earlier this month on vinyl past the CD’s arrival back in March, both on Pravda – not only display that ability from the jump (opening track “Parallax” slowly envelops the more it develops and has you fully in its grasp in less than sixty seconds) but seem to allude to it, in terms both stark and oblique, via the album title alone.

‘Motion’ and ‘picture,’ as even the briefest glance at history will attest, were not always the partners-in-phrase they so reflexively became. It was in fact the very act of attaching the one action noun to its more sedate, sedentary mate that made the coining so crucial to the public’s attraction and acceptance of what would eventually be called ‘movies’ in the first place. Until then, one moved one didn’t and never the twain would meet aside from, say, tossing a painting out the window. In MIIRRORS’ case, the joining of the two words is itself a, well, reflection of their seeming intent to sonically build the one atop the other and back again.

Past that initial track comes “Gunshot Glitter” that, while immediately more boisterous, nonetheless sticks to the premise by embracing, in the band’s own signature fashion, the none-more-layered precepts of shoegaze, emerging with one of this record’s most head-turning tracks, an accomplishment given the competition.

From “Nightwalk,” which would seem an audio depiction of the dream state slowly – if ever-so-gracefully – exploding, to “Sinistry” going from moody to instantly addictive in less than thirty seconds, all racing bassline and a melody to kill for, through the joyous skronk and thump of “Knockoff,” “Spasmatic” stringing its taut tension across four-plus minutes that pass in an existential split-second that in turn gives way to the tone-connected dyad “Wolf in Sheepskin” and “Olivet” that brings this exquisitely assembled ride that is Motion and Picture to what feels a safe if still unsettled close, there is no way to turn away from this album. You may try, but any direction you turn toward M&P will use its guile and internal radar to track your path and step right back in front of your ears again so, really, our advice is don’t even try, just give in.

For a band that took such an unusually long path to their debut – this outfit’s dual songwriting force Brian McSweeney and Shawn Rios met on a place twenty-two years ago,  picking up multi-instrumentalists Dmitri Rahkuba, Andre Miller, and Patrick Riley along the way (talk about accretion) – MIIRRORS have created a remarkably immediate debut, thereby addressing the question ‘What is time, anyway?’ with the simplest of answers: it’s everything and nothing all at once. [pick up a copy of Motion and Picture in whatever format you want here]