MIND OVER MIRRORS
Mind Over Mirrors, the evolving project of Jaime Fennelly, deploys modest acoustic constituent materials—an Indian pedal harmonium and the human voice—to produce roiling, meditative music that both simulates the swells and troughs of synthesized electronics and conjures the ceaseless rhythms of tidal surges. While we can point out referential sonic compass points—G.I. Gurdjieff’s harmonium improvisations; certain particularly harmonically viscous recordings of Sacred Harp singers; Edward Artemiev’s soundtracks to Tarkovsky films—in its prayerful patience, its simultaneously formal and folk aspects, and its unabashed (if intermittently anxious) beauty, it doesn’t sound much like anything else being made today. There is an easy, and unusual, confluence of praise and play at work in Jaime’s music that catalyzes heady reverie. This sense of simultaneity, of braided traditions, recalls Henry Flynt’s fusion of Appalachian traditions with avant-garde tactics, an acknowledged influence.
Fennelly buttresses his simple harmonium foundation with an assortment of oscillators, tape delays, and synthesizing processors that belong to the world of classic analog electronic composition. The choice of the harmonium—a 19th-century pump and pedal-operated reed keyboard instrument that once featured prominently in North Indian and European classical and religious canons as well as the vernacular music of Scandinavia, the American South, and seagoing vessels—is significant for its historical, cultural, and folkloric associations as much the self-imposed compositional or technological limitations. But make no mistake—despite the academic and abstract valences, Mind Over Mirrors is body music. In live performance, Jaime’s feet are constantly pumping the harmonium’s pedals, and the music’s essential corporeality (in the sense of Harry Partch’s designation of “corporeal music”) has fostered a close collaborative relationship with acclaimed choreographer and dancer Miguel Gutierrez since 2001.
Though Fennelly now resides in Chicago, Mind Over Mirrors emerged during a three-year period during 2007-2010 while he was living on a remote island in the Salish Sea of Washington State. Since then, he has released recordings on Immune as well as Digitalis, Hands In the Dark, and Aguirre/Gift Tapes. In the early 2000’s, Fennelly co-founded the iconoclastic group Peeesseye (with guitarist and fellow PoB artist Chris Forsyth and drummer/visual artist Fritz Welch) in Brooklyn. While Mind Over Mirrors emerged along a decidedly solo axis, in 2014 Haley Fohr of Circuit des Yeux began accompanying him on select recordings and performances, supplementing his solitary reeling and gorgeous, woozy speechlessness with her incantatory singing and contributing a new textual dimension with her occasional, elliptical lyrics.
Working together, Fennelly and Fohr created The Voice Calling (2015), another masterful and singular Mind Over Mirrors album—as challenging and enveloping as ever, but achieving a more immediate emotional and psychological register—that garnered new audiences and earned rapturous praise from the likes of Pitchfork, SPIN, Impose, BOMB, and NPR, who described it as “an out-of-body experience.” The music of Mind Over Music has always been humane, but now it is also resolutely human—seeking, speaking.
In 2017 Paradise of Bachelors will release a new album by Mind Over Mirrors.
No upcoming concerts or festivals.