Z'ev - Eleven Mirrors to the Light [Cold Spring Records - 2016]Prolific American sound artist, Z'ev, once again sees his creation released on Cold Spring Records. Eleven Mirrors to the Light is eleven tracks of droning soundscapes that bounce between light and dark, airy and earthy, and soft and rough. Z'ev's ability to create these soundscapes out of percussion instruments challenges the way most conceptualize droning experimental. This is funny, because Z'ev has been recording in this fashion longer than many artists have been alive. When looking at it this way, Z'ev isn't the exception, but the rule.
Z'EV surely put the time into Eleven Mirrors to the Light, and the listener had better be prepared to put in his or her time as well. With eleven songs all coming in around seven minutes, Eleven Mirrors is a juggernaut of droning, ambulating soundscapes. Starting off with the semi-abrasive and fairly active "Aina," Z'ev sets the scene with a sweeping, hissing, circular song that pulls the listener closer with each spiral inward. Drums punctuate the trek and give the listener a foothold with which to stop from being sucked into the abyss. This inward oscillation is a central theme on Eleven Mirrors (it would seem), and reappears on a number of other tracks ("Speil" and "Marama," for example). This hypnotic effect serves to lull the listener before serving up tasty meals of jarring distortion. Feeling somewhat like newer Skullflower releases, pieces of Eleven Mirrors hide the warbling oscillations behind obfuscating walls of noise and distortion. The highs and lows on songs like "Eadrom" pop out from the fray and give an image of a star giving off its last light before being crushed by an unfeeling black hole. That's not to say that it's all spirals and noise here. "Feny" has a very woodsy, Earthbound feel to it. Wandering through the darkness while sprites and elves remain at a distance, one hears their song, but also hears the loud, thundering footsteps of distant beasts. The album's closers, "Golau" and "Kathreftis," take this vibe a bit further and explore this unfamiliar world under a new light. The sparseness of "Kathreftis" plays well with Z'EV's use of instrumentation, and shows how well he is able to use restraint to create the sounds he needs.
Eleven Mirrors to the Light is a long release, but worth spending the time to digest what's put forth. Z'ev's longevity and reputation speaks for itself, and his releases only reinforce this fact. With this release on Cold Spring, the experimental scene gets a well distributed, well crafted piece of sound art.Paul Casey