In a rather surprising disc, Jeff Beam, in his debut Be Your Own Mirror, covers quite a bit of progrock territory, from a sublime David Gilmour mellifluous cosmic country vibe to manneredly hard-charging hurtlers to early Gong era explorations to Neu pulses to Beatles-esque montaging to…well, wherever his fertile and oft quasi-symphonically minded imagination takes him. In many ways, Mirror reminds one of some of the cooler 60s and 70s Waring Blender bands, ensembles eager to push limits and hybridize modes—here not as radically as, say, Amon Duul II, but certainly of more note than the West Coast Pop Art Band and others in the ilk, which, of their own, were absorbing and intriguing anyway.
Whispering Poison in his Ear, track 1, hits the rustic territory Gilmour covered so beautifully pre-Dark Side of the Moon while also incorporating Radiohead bric-a-brac, and the atmosphere established tends to be the home base of Beam's work though it soon soars into the skies in a mellotron-ish blend of radiant beauty. Congratulations on your Latest Achievement, on the other hand, is the streamlined crunchy cosmiche I referred to and drops into a smoothly insistent pace that boogies the backbone while firing up visions. Then drop back and follow the narrative of Part Two, an unclassifiable cut constituting a trip through old Balkan climes decorously appointed with woodlands and quaint hostels, part Cafe Orchestra but mostly Long Hello.
Steve Hillagesque riffs pop up and I several times caught strong Gary Lucas tendencies, especially during Successful People who Never Existed. There are change-ups all over the place, and this guy can go from mid-fi noiseur-interesting to way cool hi-fi cosmic sympatico in the blink of an eye. Beam is pals, and tours, with Cuddle Magic (here), and, yeah, I can definitely see why. That pairing would be a gig worth seeing, heady expositions in how to break the rules, acknowledge no boundaries, still create melodics and entrance the audience no matter what genre it might favor. And not only does the cover sport one of those cool exact reversal mirror-photos, but the disc artwork is a very pleasing Escherine pseudo-tessaract composed of Barclay James Harvest-style butterflies (but, er, those scrawly credits……yikes!).
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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