CD, Ant-Zen, 2010
More widely recognized for the material he has produced under the guise of This Morn’ Omina and Pow[d]er Pussy, Mika Goedrijk nonetheless ventured away from collaborative efforts in early 2009 to release “Pellicules”, an album of solo work developed through revisiting previously abandoned or shelved ideas and sounds. A year later, “Looking-Glass World” is its successor, and follows similar themes. While the new album still focuses on patterns of ambient sounds, it diverges from its more industrial-oriented predecessor by placing greater emphasis on electro and IDM motifs. It is especially the more ambient, clicks-and-cuts side of IDM that Goedrijk explores here, and that is just what makes “Looking-Glass World” so fascinating.
Setting off the album with punching tribal beats and electro glitch, “Vanilla Flavoured Thorazine” might give the wrong impression of what to expect, as things immediately slow to a spacious and subdued simmer through the next few tracks. Muted clicks and percussion converge with supporting micro-sounds and patient beats, elements entering gradually and compounding to build both movement and energy into the empty spaces Goedrijk has defined. The melancholy guitar slides on “Dead Air” are exceptional when combined with rich bass modulations, and the swirly techno synths that appear in “At the 11th Hour” underscore the different influences at play here. “Lost Decade” even features a jazz trumpet pealing in the background, while the slow breaks and tropical feel form a sort of deconstructed jungle, both literally and figuratively.
When beat structures are permitted to gain ascendancy, as they are later in the album, the results are downright contagious. “Thistledown” blossoms from clinical small sounds and a slightly dirty rhythm loop into an uplifting nu skool breaks number. Tribal inflections and twisted acid lines boom on “Dangling from Rooftops”, while hypnotic “Draussen im Grünen” moves with the willfulness only such an atmospheric breakbeat churner can arouse. It is this ambient-versus-kinetic dynamic that proves to be Goedrijk’s most successful accomplishment with “Looking-Glass World”. Although at times glitchy and subversive, the soft repetitions and circular motions that form the core of this release, whether via acoustic percussion or relaxed synth tones, give it a unique, introspective flavor. Its patterns, although superficially balanced and tranquil, seem to reflect a darker journey into the mechanisms and responses that drive psychosis. Coming full circle, “Le Grand Mal” finishes the album approximately where it started, but this time with an intensification of noise and chaos, disorienting and uncontrolled, as the Thorazine wears off and a fleetingly muffled reality becomes unhinged and very much present once more.
— Dutton Hauhart