CAM’s Mirror Confrontations gestates out of the primordial ooze of improvisations with Foetus coming to life around incandescent frequencies feeding back on each other like some new evolution of an organic being. You immediately get wrapped up in a world of raw emotion where contrasting elements of terror and tranquillity are present, all anchored in the universal feeling that you are not alone anymore. The low hum of a human voice represents the anthropomorphic form of the thing, before a low guttural groan and incoherent enunciations mutate its very essence, transforming raw improvised sessions into a new sonic world for the purpose of an album opening.
CAM is Claus Poulsen, Anders Børup and Mads Bech Paluszewski-Hau; all accomplished musicians who formed around the experimental scene in Copenhagen and a venue called Mayhem. They bring their unique live performances to the LP format for the first time over two records, released on the same day. Mirror Confrontations accompanies True or False, the latter made up of live improvised sessions from 2010, re-assembled by producer and remixer Janus Dyg to create several collages of music, more in line with the nature of an EP or mini-album. Mirror Confrontations however, is more grounded in the idea of the album format, with the group taking to the studio for improvised recording sessions over the course of three months through 2014/15. The result is something more considered in the album narrative than True or False while maintaining that immersive allure of the improvised live performance, with the group’s attempts in “creating a succession that resembles that of a CAM concert” working well in this context.
CAM align themselves within the paradigms of noise, but where it loses all connotations with its most literal of definitions. There’s nothing that could insinuate noise here, besides the randomness of the performance aspects, which gets lost amongst the subtle, elongated sonic shapes and the concise forms of the music. There are no confrontational textures, or dissolute movements to speak of on Mirror Confrontations, and instead what you’ll find are immersive sonic experiences that entice you further into the looking glass through an intimacy in the music. The close microphone techniques they employ on the vocals expound on this proximity to the music with the listener finding him/herself staring straight into the mouth of a beast, where fear is replaced with content and acceptance of the situation. There’s a personable personality that avoids any one-directional communication of the group with its audience and instead you feel a dialogue commencing between these different musicians, which indirectly incorporates the listener in a conversation you’re quite happy just listening to. The improvisation of the pieces, aren’t reflective of the immersive musician showcasing a talent or expressing something personal, but rather allows various parts to conspire, interplay and eventually create something far bigger than its individual parts, a complete singular living entity. Simplicity reigns freely and something like the monotone melody on Amazing Eyes, protracted to an inch of its life creates a catalyst, instills a familiarity and an immediacy that pulls the listener in, closer once again to the music until you find you’re completely surrounded by the dissonant and formidable textures, that might have in another situation have slighted the listener. The steady thump of a 4/4 beat on A place to go and the Bowie-like vocals of Closer to the tree similarly avoid the abandonment that can occur through improvised music and allow CAM to find a level ground with their audience.
There is something that continuously pulls at you as a listener and although there is no real concrete narrative to latch onto, there is a definitive journey you take with CAM throughout the 6 songs that make up the album. Something particularly happens to you as the album rings out with the drawn out bell tones of Closer to the tree and the solitary question hanging on the air from a vocalist’s lips. It leaves you feeling naked and alone, the album like a companion that’s picked you apart and disarmed you from all your natural defences, and you suddenly realise you’re alone again. It seems that after Mirror Confrontations, any emotion or humanity that ever existed in the world is now gone and in the silence that follows there is only discomfort to be felt.