Music doesn’t have to be boring. The newest Mirrors For Psychic Warfare record — I See What I Became, out now via Neurot Recordings — looms as a monument to that fact.
The piece traverses strange, unique musical territory, utilizing experimental, ambitious electronics and expansive instrumentation to chart its path. Scott Kelly — perhaps most famously of the iconic post-metal band Neurosis — and musician/producer Sanford Parker drive the project, positioning it as a testament to their musical ambition.
At a basic level, Parker explains that he wants to be moved by music. He doesn’t sound like he wants to just coast along with easy listening — and the drive has long since culminated in him crafting his own work.
“I definitely lean more towards the darker, moodier, more aggressive music — anything that pushes your buttons and just sends you in a headspace,” he says. “When you put on a record and you just leave, you go off — that’s the shit that drives me. I want to put on a record, and I want to fucking escape. I want to go away. I want to pace around my apartment. That’s what I do — when I put on a record and it does that to me, that’s the one that I know that it resonates.”
Crafting An Experiment
When it comes to Mirrors, Parker himself drives a lot of the project’s electronic and industrial element. He’s been involved in that uniquely harsh music for years, he explains, noting that its history interweaves with the history of alternative rock and metal as a whole. Power electronics hide as a secret fountain, giving the scene life — and Parker wants to drink.
“That’s just something that’s been in my blood since I was a child,” he explains of the experimentation. “I got into electronic music pretty much around the same time I got into punk and metal. Since I started playing music, I’ve always had a passion for experimental, electronic, industrial stuff. I’ve been in more and written more electronic music than I have metal or punk or anything. To me, I don’t even think about it. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for me, just because I’ve been doing it for a long time. A lot of that early industrial stuff runs parallel with the early punk stuff, like all that shit started around the same time in the same scenes.”
Parker found an ally in Kelly, explaining: “He’s been a fan and he’s been experimenting with that shit just as long as I have. To us, it’s just a natural thing.”
Constructing The Framework
Mirrors originally emerged as an idea that Kelly had for a solo project, but he eventually had Parker come on board. Both have been involved with music for long stretches of time. Parker’s pursuits have included production work for bands from Yob to Voivod, and he explains that he’s been thrilled to pick up what he can along the way. He’s always observing.
“I’ve been fortunate to have that perspective where I’ve worked with so many artists over the years that I always take away something from it,” he says. “Even working with one metal artist to the next, their approach to doing things can be drastically different, so I kind of absorb that and apply that to my own methods. If I’m working with an artist and they come in with this cool idea, I’ll be like ‘oh man, I could take that and put it in something that I do.’ I’m always taking away from bands that I work with and applying it to my own stuff.”
The music though, feels alive. There’s little control to be exerted over the expanse of sound; it bursts out and digs into the listener — and the creators, for that matter.
Parker reiterates that he approaches the music more as a master to be respected and studied at all turns than a machine to subdue.
“There were definitely parts where I purposefully wanted to do a track a certain way, but the thing is, to me anyway, it seems like the more I try to make a song sound a certain way, the less it sounds like that and the more it just ends up sounding like something completely different — which is totally fine, and often times even better. I don’t try to keep pulling it back.”
“That’s the cool part about working with me and Scott,” Parker adds. “A lot of tracks will start off sounding one way and then once he starts to add his layers, it takes on a whole new direction and a whole new feeling, so that’s pretty rad. He lets me do what I do; I let him do what he does. Obviously we will have some sort of direction or whatever for each other, but for the most part, we’ll just kind of do what we do, and then just fit the pieces together.”
History And The Future
The latest available round of “pieces” collected in the second Mirrors For Psychic Warfare album, available now. The first, self-titled release emerged back in 2016.
Their paradigm has spent years taking shape, and a drive to open up the floodgates — no matter what sprung forth — has driven the ambitious project the whole time.
Parker explains: “When [Kelly] originally started working on this and got me involved, we never talked about what it was going to sound like. We never talked about how we were going to approach it or what instruments we were going to play. It was just like — hey, do you want to do this thing? And we were both like, yeah, let’s do it. It just started coming out. We just started writing stuff and collaborating on stuff. It just forces itself to where it’s going to go. We just kind of nudge it along.”
Kelly and Parker have actually worked together outside of this project, too. Both men contributed to Corrections House, a somewhat similarly styled undertaking that included Mike Williams from the sludge metal band Eyehategod but now sits on the backburner.
Their work in Mirrors isn’t just for the studio — the band is touring Europe for most of November 2018.
Through all of Parker’s work, including his current project with Scott, a common thread runs.
As he puts it: “With everything I do, I don’t want to recreate something that’s already been done. I’m always trying to come up with new ideas and new sounds — and hopefully people dig it.”
Photo via Julie Patterson
Listen to the band below via Spotify