Listening Mirror: The Heart of The Sky (Expanded and Remixed CD Edition)
Originally issued on cassette by Bathetic Records in late 2011, Listening Mirror's The Heart of The Sky is resurrected in an expanded form on CD with remixes by Wil Bolton, Sleeper, and Radio 9 added to sweeten the deal. At one time a duo project, Listening Mirror had become by the end of 2010 the solo venture of Jeff Stonehouse and consequently all of the compositions on the release are credited to him with one exception, “Mixtli Sleeps,” which is credited to Alicia Merz, better known as Birds of Passage, and Stonehouse.
In keeping with its ominous title, “Midnight at Teques, Storm Approaching” introduces the recording with a shadowy, guitar-based soundscape whose sound design is expanded upon through the incorporation of electronics and field recordings. Slow-moving and haunted, its guitar shadings and glimmering electronics make for a thoroughly moody and portentous setting that establishes a quietly macabre tone for the fifty-five-minute collection. “The Words Just Won't Come” and “Ah Pukuh is Here” perpetuate the ghostly dronescape character of the opener, while the centerpiece, “Mixtli Sleeps,” is, not surprisingly, the most album's beautiful setting due to the inclusion of Merz's entrancing whisper. Listeners acquainted with her Birds of Passage output will already know how mesmerizing her singing is in that context, and its effect is as striking here.
Bolton's “Midnight at Teques” treatment adds detail to the original's arrangement and in doing so gives it a more expansive atmospheric quality, almost as if Bolton has allowed the flower to blossom a bit more fully and let its colours grow more saturated. And if anything, the glacial remix of “The Words Just Won't Come” by Sleeper (Christian Parahi) makes Stonehouse's material sound even more cavernous than it already is in its originating form. But generally speaking, the guests' versions don't deviate so dramatically from the Listening Mirror originals that the album loses anything in the way of cohesiveness. In fact, the differences between the original version of “Mixtli Sleeps” and the one by Radio 9 (Leon Muraglia) are so subtle one needs to hear them in the closest possible proximity for any differences to be detected. Regardless, Stonehouse's originals and his remixers' treatments both evidence a fastidious attention to textural detail that only a headphones listen will bring forth to the fullest possible degree.