Boomkat Product Review:
'Mirror Ensemble' is Chicago synth don Brett Naucke's most ambitious album to date; inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky's autobiographical "Mirror", he's assembled a levitational near-orchestral set assisted by Natalie Chami (TALsounds) and Whitney Johnson (Matchess) >> think Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bee Mask or Tangerine Dream.
Naucke describes 'Mirror Ensemble' as his "indie rock record" and came up with the idea for the album after watching Tarkovsky's acclaimed 1975 film, subsequently inviting his close friends Chami and Johnson around for dinner. After showing them clips of "Mirror" he explained what he'd want from their contributions; Naucke would write arrangements and synthesizer parts and Chami and Johnson would embellish the recordings with viola, piano, synths and vocals.
The resulting record is Naucke's most sonically expansive, and that's in part down to the contributions from his ensemble. While Naucke's synths are still at the heart of the compositions, it's the resonant vocals, strings and piano that stretches "Mirror Ensemble" into widescreen, with 'The Glass Shifting' an early highlight, with operatic, reverberating voices hanging like ghosts over Naucke's static rhythms and outer space oscillations. 'Catch Your Breath', meanwhile, is short but anxiously effective, with wordless vocals providing a haunted choir beneath Naucke's Vangelis-like pads and scratches.
The album might have been influenced by "Mirror" but it's "Blade Runner" that feels more apt as a reference - it's not all spectral gloom either, 'Rose Water' is almost saccharine sweet and closing track 'Late-Century Reflection' is a cloud-punching nu-kosmische anthem.