Listening Mirror: The Clearing / My Hiding Place
Cooper Cult

Since 2010 Jeff Stonehouse has issued a rather staggering number of Listening Mirror full-lengths and EPs, including ones on Hibernate (Resting in Aspic), Bathetic (The Heart Of The Sky), Heat Death (Spires, Spirals And Stones), and Twice Removed (What's Wrong With Miracles?). His latest ambient-drone outing appears on Cooper Cult, an underground New Zealand-based label established in January 2012 and managed by married couple Christian Parahi and Alicia Merz. The latter, of course, is well-known in these parts for the recordings she's issued under the Birds of Passage moniker, and she's identified at Listening Mirror's facebook page as an associated member of the project along with Kate Tustain and Sophie Kazandjian.

The first two tracks were available originally in a seven-inch vinyl format that's no longer available; the download still is, of course, and it's a purchase well worth making as it comes with a bonus track that's longer than the two other tracks combined. In keeping with its titular evocation of wide-open spaces, “The Clearing” presents long swaths of willowy haze against which heavy-lidded guitar tones tremulously intone. The similarly styled second track, “My Hiding Place,” is as dusty, even if its sound design rumbles a bit more forcefully by comparison. Listening Mirror's penchant for slow-motion ambient-drones, thick with atmosphere and haunted in tone, receives its most thorough workout in the spectral bonus track, “Play Fair Frank,” whose shuddering tapestry unspools at an even slower pace than its brethren. Though Stonehouse, by his own admission, possesses no formal musical training, he most definitely puts his background in sound recording and manipulation to good use in the three settings.

September 2012