I had a chance to work with the three people that make up the band Fractal Mirror this past spring and summer. Frank (Drums, perc, most of the lyrics) hails from the U.S., while Leo and Ed are from the Netherlands. Ed plays bass and keys and Leo does the singing and guitars, along with additional keys. It was a long distance project that was a successful one – because of the professionalism and chemistry we shared.
Like many sessions I’m hired for, Frank emailed me asking to book a session to track drums for a couple days. You never really know what you are going to get when you work with someone you don’t know. The not knowing aspect of my job is one of the reasons I still love doing what I do. I didn’t know anything about Frank’s band, Frank’s drumming, or Frank himself! As it turned out he is a wonderful person and someone I came to want to work with in a more in-depth way.
Over the course of the drum-tracking weekend Frank and I got to know each other better, as is the case with most sessions. I started to get a sense of Fractal Mirror’s music and felt drawn to what they were trying to do. One tune, The Garden, really jumped out at me for its stark beauty – I’m drawn to these kinds of songs. I thought Leo’s vocal was amazing and unique, and the arrangement was perfect for the lyric. I think Frank had a different drum idea for the latter section of the song and I was surprised when he openly tried a suggestion I gave him – as a different approach. Frank’s openness to change and trying new ideas on the spot is a rare thing between two people that just met each other, let alone musicians in general. I can’t overstate this. It immediately said something to me about his character in a very positive way. Because of this recognition, I offered, in a sincere way, to produce (if he was looking for ideas) the song The Garden. I had a clear idea for the song and wanted to see if he, Leo, and Ed (the latter two I still did not know yet) felt I could add something to their music. I even told Frank that if they didn’t like what I did it was no big deal at all; they didn’t have to use it – I wanted to do this simply because I dug the tune… no strings attached.
Contributing creative musical input to someone else’s song is a tough position to be in. As a session musician it causes me great anxiety at times. All I want to do it make the client smile, right? I want to somehow elevate an artist’s music in a transparent yet apparent way. For The Garden I added some guitars, backing vocals, bass, and tightened a couple screws where needed. I was elated when the guys reached out to me and told me how much they liked my input and mix of their song… so much so that they asked If I wanted to co-produce the rest of the album with them and add additional guitars and backing vocals where needed. It seemed like a great project, so I said yes. Over the course of the spring and summer of 2014 I got to know the guys. I even got to meet Ed face-to-face for some final mixing in the late summer. Leo and Ed are beautiful people that I consider friends from across the pond. Sometimes we connect with people and sometimes we don’t. In this case I feel fortunate to have worked with such genuine people.
Fractal Mirror’s music is a strange combination of different cultures creating a unique and yet familiar sound. I love the occasional odd chord change or Leo’s brilliant note choice in his melodies. There is “an ease” in these songs – nothing pointy or pointless. Even heavier tunes like Phoenix have a certain amount of grace in them. There is real experience in the words and the way they are sung by Leo that transcends rigid style borders. During the final mix of the song Stars there was a palpable emotion in the control room as Ed, Frank, and I listened to the mix. The combination of the lyrics, the music, and the mix brought out the longing and sadness in the song. The experience was genuine, as well as a reflection of the authenticity Frank, Ed, and Leo convey to me and imbue in their songs.
Check out their new album – Garden of Ghosts
Here’s an album teaser video
It was a wonderful experience working with the guys, and also getting to meet Larry and Don Fast (who were also part of this project) and hopefully establishing a lifelong friendship. You’ll find something unique and genuine in this music as it embraces you.
Sincerely Brett Kull
October 21th, 2014