Disperse
Living Mirrors


2.5
average

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
February 17th, 2013 | 41 replies | 7,932 views


Release Date: 02/15/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: From re-defining progressive to re-defining "just above average."

Disperse are a young band. And, as with any young person or group of people, it seems that they're prone to a somewhat fickle nature. You see, Disperse's first album, Journey Through The Hidden Gardens, was a free-flowing progressive metal album with a heavy leaning towards the progressive side of things. It was full of drawn-out soundscapes that painted pictures of ruby backlit poppy fields with dancing winds of melodic guitar lines sweeping through them. It shifted the style of that painting fluidly through artistic movements; never skipping transitionary phases and always developing a new technique as the record progressed. Journey Through The Hidden Gardens is, in my opinion, an album that will be fondly looked back on years from now by critics and musicians for the unique way in which it blended progressive outlooks old and new.

But Living Mirrors is a different story. It is an album that has a few ideas in line with its prototype, but it mostly forfeits them for rhythmic bombast. It is an album that forfeits direction and melody for a meandering, heavier sound. But, perhaps most crucially, it is an album which largely discards the band's penchant for experimentation in favor of a consistent sound. And that consistent sound doesn't just fall short of being the great thing that Journey Through The Hidden Gardens was, it isn't even consistently good.

A significant portion of that stems from one principle issue: Jakub Zytecki, Disperse's main attraction on the six string contraption, has had his role reduced on this record. While the lead guitar of the group's first album provided the wind that kept the leaves scurrying through the air, Living Mirrors has no such current to keep its pieces in flight. Oh, sure, there are melodic guitar lines and guitar solos, but more than half of the time, they're shoved to the bottom of the mix with down-tuned chug riffing stampeding over them. Take the solo at the 2:24 mark of "Touching The Golden Cloud," for example. It's a catchy, fast paced affair with enough of its own rhythm to carry its part, yet it's paired with an obnoxious chug riff that cuts through its propulsion and holds the track onto the ground with a heavy hand.

The sad truth is that while instrumentation on the group's former album was designed to provide a frame for the axework, it's unwilling to perform that task on the bulk of Living Mirrors. And the result is a picture without a frame, but with a lot of junk piled up in it and glued onto it. The biggest culprit is, of course, the chuggy rhythm guitar that seems to eat most of the drumming and bass on this album, but next in line are the vocals. While the drawn out low tenor of Rafal Biernacki was well-suited to the soundscape-driven approach of the quartet's previous album, it doesn't fill the space afforded to it by the rhythm-heavy approach on this album. There simply isn't enough variation in the vocal delivery for your average (or even above-average) listener to really feel moved by. Of course, repetitive lyrics ("Choices over me" set on a loop) and the gimmicky Cynic-worship autotune of "Unbroken Shiver" don't help either... Especially when the vocoder isn't even powerful to break the monotony of Biernacki's delivery.

Living Mirrors does have a few saving graces in solid tracks like opener "Dancing With Endless Love" and "Butoh," which play a little more freely and far away from the railroad tracks of the runaway rhythm train. "Butoh," in fact, features lush bass soloing and bass-lead interplay that feels like an incredibly fresh relief from the weight of the rest of the album. That's a great thing when taken alone, but it's also an unfortunately true statement about the album as a whole. Many of the tracks do continue to feature some solid ambient sections and nearly all of them include catchy melodic leads and solos (the intros to "Touching The Golden Cloud" and "Choices Over Me" are both brilliant) but the devil becomes picking them out of the bottom of the mix once the rhythm kicks in and swallows Disperse's number one asset whole. And that's a task no listener should have to undertake.

In the end, Living Mirrors is an album that's at its best when it's throwing curveballs - audible, soaring guitar solos and catchy leads, tracks without vocals or chug riffs, the interspersing of African percussion on "AUM," bass leads on "Butoh," and most of its ambient passages throughout. Yet, those are the curveballs and for every oddball throw Living Mirrors gives us, there's another boring passage saturated in prolonged, dull rhythms just around the corner. And it's for that reason that Living Mirrors falls short of being anything good, let alone anything as spectacular as its predecessor.



Recent reviews by this author
Opeth Pale CommunionRx Bandits Gemini, Her Majesty
Chris Letchford LightboxHoth Oathbreaker
Marty Friedman InfernoCasualties of Cool Casualties of Cool
user ratings (47)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2013



1987 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Another disappointment from an album I was really looking forward to.

2.7. It's above average (and from any other band would probably be at least a 3-3.5 if an initial release) but this is crap for these guys.

Calc
February 16th 2013



12133 Comments


guess i didn't have to tell you about this.

Digging: Jizue - Shiori

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2013



1987 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Haha, I just saw your post in the other thread! I appreciate the heads-up, man. I was locked onto this album like crazy and was really, really looking forward to it.

Calc
February 16th 2013



12133 Comments


ugh i can only imagine your utter disappointment...

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2013



1987 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hidden Gardens was so good, I really don't know why they decided to do this.

Willie
Moderator
February 17th 2013



15911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Good review, but I like this album (never heard their debut, though).

Digging: Nero Di Marte - Derivae

Calc
February 17th 2013



12133 Comments


well there's the new coolest avatar.

I can't get over the vocals of this band though, I know i'd like the music but i just get distracted by those vocals.

Eclecticist
February 18th 2013



3863 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I didn't mind this album but it's definitely not the best for the sub-genre. Although, there is clearly a lot of potential here and if they improved on many of the ideas you suggested this band could be a big deal one day.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2013



10064 Comments


Sweet review by sweet reviewer. What else is new?

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2013



16083 Comments


WEIRD IVE heard this is really good elsewhere. hm.

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2013



1987 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks guys. And thanks for the feature, too!

I do still encourage you to listen and make up your own mind. I also recommend listening to Journey Through The Hidden Gardens first, because it's significantly better than this and it'll give you an idea of why it's hard to call this anything great (though some stuff like "Butoh" really is).

For me, it's not awful, but it's a massive step down for these guys. Like I said, if this were a debut, it'd be a 3-3.5 easily, but it isn't. This 2.5 is kind of akin to my 2.5 for Weightless - good moments, but as an album it's bloated, flawed, and on the heels of a real gem.

What I miss most from Journey, though, is that Aruna Abrams sounding chick. She completed the sound in a really ethereal way.

Imperial
February 18th 2013



1725 Comments


Good review. So far my impressions of the album are really really positive. I like the sound a lot. I can see people not liking the vocals but fuck I'm on board for this album It's really good.

SitarHero
February 18th 2013



4656 Comments


The debut album was a nice slice of classic virtuoso progressive rock. Like Event's Electric Skies. Textured soundscapes and acrobatic jazzy guitar soloes galore. However, my opinion was that the sound was just a tad...dated. I'm trying get my hands on this. All I've heard are Unbroken Shiver and Enigma of Abode (which is pretty cool despite it's obvious, dare I say it, djenty-ness).

Imperial
February 18th 2013



1725 Comments


I mean you could call it djent but it's a different take on it and you can clearly hear how talented
these guys are. Not just another generic djent band.

SitarHero
February 18th 2013



4656 Comments


I agree with you based on what I've heard so far. Much more melodic than one is used to hearing in the genre.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2013



4409 Comments


I've never heard this band but I will definitely look into this and their other album just to see what I've been missing. They sound pretty good from what you described.

Excellent work as always, Atomic. POS'd.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

LunaticSoul
February 18th 2013



157 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Review is good while I wasn't that much impressed by its predecessor. Probably listening to it on
their Bandcamp without picking up the original one didn't help. Review-wise, though, sounds like
you're still burned by disappointment, which is a feeling a professional reviewer should avoid in
their stuff. "2.5" is personal rather than as objective as possible.

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2013



1987 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don't see why I should avoid sounding burned by disappointment. That's my genuine reaction and I think I provided ample comparison to support my reaction. Your opinion and reaction may differ based on your experience with the music, but this is how I felt about it and it was informed by what I got from the previous album.

I was on the fence with a 3 and a 2.5, but I was also using my criticism of Orion's new album to try to balance this out. I gave that a 3 and I feel that it had more lasting appeal and a few more saving graces than this did, so I gave this a 2.5.

LunaticSoul
February 18th 2013



157 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I don't see why I should avoid sounding burned by disappointment.
---

Because it's not professional? Please do consider that Sputnik has got a good resonance, and a 2.5 is buzz kill for such a underground band, while objectively this album should be rated at least as a 3. After a few listens I consider it a "great" album, with some ideas that really shine out; again, I recommend you to listen to some polish prog, this should help you realize that their first effort is nowhere near "redefining".

IMHO this is actually a step forward in the right direction, djent-y influenced but not overwhelming: it sounds even lightier than Skyharbor's "Illusion", atmospherically wise this is on par if not better, while I agree that some of the heaviest parts of the album are kinda "eh".

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2013



10064 Comments


"Because it's not professional? Please do consider that Sputnik has got a good resonance, and a 2.5 is buzz kill for such a underground band, while objectively this album should be rated at least as a 3."

1. It doesn't matter, at all, if a negative review is "buzzkill" for a band. This is a music REVIEW site, where we rate music and discuss what works and what doesn't. If you want a website that clings onto every djent group like it's the next Meshuggah, Got-Djent would work incredibly well for you. And if you can't handle the negative opinion presented here, then I suggest you spend your time on a different website.

2. That last part's bullshit, too. This is objectively a 3? Really? You don't think people, can, y'know, have different opinions on music, and them be equally valid?



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy