Heavy and mysterious, Mirror Eye is a careful exercise in musical patience, full of slowly unspooling pieces that move outward like ripples in a pond. As made immediately clear on “Mantis,” the nearly 11-minute opening track, Psychic Ills is not a band concerned with energy or speed or even movement. The song opens up languidly, building from drawn-out silence to a shuddering coil of exotic guitar, voice effects, and hand drums that evokes a sinister Arabian night. Before long this build halts, settles into a groove, and fades out, without ever reaching a real climax. This lack of resolution might play as unsatisfying on an album more concerned with proper structures, but here it contributes to a lingering ominous feeling that manifests itself again and again, from the circling, sinister guitar line of “The Way Of” to the quietly haunting atmosphere of “Fingernail Tea.” Out of small, hard kernels these songs begin to flower, half bloom, and then blow away into fuzz or tapering declinations of uniform noise. This stillborn quality creates an album that feels heavily sedated, sluggish, and barely mobile, but extraordinarily expansive for all its lassitude and repetition. “Eyes Closed” begins and ends with a lone tapping echo, the space between devoted to a gentle slope of droning sound that’s akin to a roller coaster moving at a crawl. The band takes this gradual structure and spreads it over songs wreathed in recurring patterns, echo effects, and unintelligible chanting voices, resulting in music that’s densely circular but moves, slowly and elegantly, with all the beauty of a wisp of smoke.
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