Alastair Galbraith

Mirrorwork

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AllMusic Review by

While Alastair Galbraith's particular solo style had long been established by the time Mirrorwork appeared, it was still an approach all his own, often providing wonderful, mysterious results. Certainly the lead track, "For Free," a collaboration with Shayne Carter on "backwards lead guitar," finds his brew of edgy lyrics, delivery, and atypical, hard to grasp melodies as potent as ever, and a good sign for Mirrorwork as a whole. Again, many songs barely touch the two-minute mark, with 24 total tracks in under three quarters of an hour. His home recording style is a collage of electric guitar, violin, and other instruments and overall aesthetic -- again, nothing too surprising to anyone who's heard it before. There's psychotic buzzing on "Rivulets," with keyboards sounding like insane, annoyed bees, and the high-pitched squeals, just a hair away from being annoying, while on "Frostfish" there are two instances of Galbraith seeing how far he can go. Where the joy of Mirrorwork comes in is how he works that combination to his own ends, coming up with some new, intriguing results. The combination of soft and clattering has been done before, for instance, but "Ludd," with prominent acoustic guitar in one speaker and various feedback growls and random noises in the other, is one of Galbraith's best balances between the two extremes. Other standouts include the reversed guitar snippets and loops of "Song to the Third," softly fading away into the distance, and the burbling organ/muttering vocal blend of "Vinyl Curtain," one of his dreamiest yet disturbed numbers. The album's other collaboration, "This Hard," with regular Galbraith partner David Mitchell, finds them both taking the acoustic route, resulting in a quietly enjoyable gem. This occasional tendency to play things completely straight results in such listenable worthies as "Blue Room," played on what sounds like 12-string acoustic, and the semi-blues lope and growl of "Stealthy."

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