Dichroic Mirror - "Nocturnal Garden"
By Marcus Pan
Fronted by the dark haired Eileen Bowe who
bears an impressive listing of instruments for the band (vocals, guitars,
keyboards, fretted dulcimer, mandolin, bass), Dichroic Mirror is a goth-rock
style group based in the City of Angels. The other key member of Dichroic
Mirror is the brooding Michael Gougis who also brings with him a wide array of
musical instruments (guitars, bass, percussion, mandolin, vocals, electronic
effects). The drums are handled by Black Prince Edward. In 1996, after Michael
underwent a short series of relocations, their reunion in Los Angeles produced
their latest CD release: Nocturnal Garden.
Nocturnal Garden is an eleven track full length
release on DM's own label, Mesmeric Records. You can also pick up their stuff
at Ipso Facto (http://home.earthlink.net/~ipsofacto/), which was unusual for me
to discover as I was under the impression that Ipso Facto, other than their
various clothing & accessory lines, typically only carried their own music
- that of Stone 588. It turns out that Eileen Bowe is the bassist and
keyboardist for this LA band. Mystery solved.
DM are predominantly a Siouxsie-style gothic rock group with
a bit of a folk atmosphere thrown in. They keep an older style but their use of
quite an array of instrumental weaponry give them that folk flavor. Guitars are
the highlight throughout their music with a harsh sound on most tracks.
Eileen's vocals are usually strong and carry well, but will sometimes undergo
clashing - whether intentional or not I don't know - with the instrumental
score. Sometimes this provides a unique sound - but it can harm a song. Also
helping out with backing vocals is Terri Kennedy (Stone 588).
A main problem with the music of Dichroic
Mirror is that it can be very bland. Tracks like the fifth, Aswand, have
a folk style but seem to go on forever. While it has a bright strumming style
and is quite soothing, this soothing is dragged too long. The following track,
Storm Of Tears, is characterized by a moody and harsh guitar that is
laden with feedback and distortion so that the strings themselves blend
together. Again, however, it seems to go on a bit too long. The same is also
evident in track 10, Lash, that "bit too long" feeling coming through
right from the whining, feedback-laden introduction that leads to a slow start.
The ending is also dragged out, feedback again. There are some tracks here on
Nocturnal Garden that I'm quite enamored with, however. The opening
song, Overload, is a strong piece, again with the harsh and distorted
guitar signature Dichroic Mirror are fond of using.
Dichroic Mirror's work is marked by the blaring guitars in
their faster paced songs and a more folk-like strumming in their slower
ballads, the former being most easily compared to Siouxsie and the latter being
easily placed beside Paris By Night. Their songwriting however has a drab feel
to it. It can be droning and monotonous or in other cases just simply drag the
same sound (whether it be a simple chord progression or a feedback wail) too
long and too far.