Fractal Mirror -
Beyond Borders

(CD 2021, 46:19, Bad Elephant)

The tracks:
  1- Beyond(4:13)
  2- Ashes(17:08)
  3- Slip Away(4:15)
  4- Shadow Man(5:40)
  5- Kingdom Of The Lost(4:15)
  6- Borders(12:46)

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Beyond Borders sees Fractal Mirror returning to their progressive rock roots says the press release about the album. Okay, let's hear it. First of all, I always liked Fractal Mirror. The way they wrote their songs and the improvement with each album made, I've got a sweet spot for them.

The band changed since the last album Close To Vapor. Ed van Haagen (bass and additional vocals) returned and Gareth Cole (guitars and background vocals) joined. Leo Koperdraat (voice, Mellotron 4000D and keyboards) stayed as did drummer Frank Urbaniak, Brett Kull mixed the album again and did background vocals while Larry Fast mastered it. The band wrote and produced it themselves. So what about this album?

To start with the good news: Gareth Cole is a great addition to Fractal Mirror. His guitar work is tasteful and brings the songs to life. It is good Ed van Haagen is back. His bass lines are an absolute pleasure. The background/ additional vocals are not only great but also a necessity for the album. Prog lovers will be pleased by the amount of Mellotron sounds on Beyond Borders.
Going back to your roots is not a choice for progress. This album is old fashioned prog with the brake on. All songs have the same, slow tempo with not that many dynamics.
The album starts with Beyond, an instrumental track dominated by a lot of Mellotron sounds and beautiful guitars by Gareth Cole. Back to the roots certainly counts for the recording of the drums. Frank Urbaniak is not a flashy, double pedal wonder but a good, solid drummer. He can't be pleased by the dampened sound of his drums and the mix of them on this album.
The 17 minute epic Ashes has the first vocals by Leo Koperdraat. The press release says voice and that's a better expression for his singing. Leo has a marmite voice with a very limited reach. You like it or you hate it. The background/ additional vocals are, as said, absolutely necessary. Again loads of mellotron and some great guitars. Slip Away sees Leo in full Leonard Cohen mode. He sometimes puts a bit more power in his voice and that's good, he should do that more and have some fun in his singing. But then the lyrics must be a bit more positive too.

I can go through all songs but I won't because all tracks are quite depressing. It's difficult to sit this one out. Besides that, the overall sound of this album is not to nowadays standards, and I listened on several different speakers and headphones. Is this a bad album? I leave that to the listener. For me I would love to hear a more uplifting Fractal Mirror that really goes Beyond Borders. Don't go back in time guys, but go for a more progressive cheerful future! I know you can do it! Let's blame this one on the depressing Corona years.

**+ Arne van Os van den Abeelen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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