Witness the continuing evolution of Rauelsson, a musical chameleon who continues to paint in new colors (although his primary palette remains green). In retrospect, the electronic shift of Mirall can be gleaned in 2013’s Vora, although that album also showed great movement from the composer’s folk/vocal roots. The orchestra is now on hiatus; the pulse is the main story. Mirall is also different from Rauelsson’s collaboration with Erik K Skodvin, A Score for Darling, although the connections become clear when the albums are played back-to-back.
Ironically (or perhaps intentionally), the opening track is called “Arrows,” a metaphorical word for the artist’s trajectory. The melancholic mood is embedded in the light chordal washes and sparse piano. Without the percussion, the music would sound ambient, but the speaker-skipping rhythms nudge the music into a new arena. These rhythms dissipate in the final minute, allowing a small symphonic surge to poke its head from the hole. As the track melts into the next, bass and drums deny its right to primacy. This dance is repeated throughout the set, although the instruments change: hints of bells and horns are sprinkled atop the tempos, floating down to the bottom of the mix as the beats shake them off.
Mirall means mirror, and the album concludes with “Map of Mirrors,” intimating that the music has been building to this moment. The map asks more than “What do we see?”, but “How do we see?” (Or in this case, “How do we hear?”) If a reviewer at Norman Records and I each choose to use the word “melancholic,” does this say more about the music, our reaction to the music, or our own histories? Is it significant to note that the center track, “Marbles,” is also the shortest and least electronic, marked by rainy saxophone? Is Rauelsson saying that this is the heart of his reflection, the rest but refraction? Perhaps it’s best to combine two words, arrow and map, to propose that this music is about the phases of the composer’s life and the acceptance of each phase as forward motion. No single change has been drastic, but the distance traveled over time has been immense. If one day we look in the mirror and see a “Silver Streak,” our initial reaction, like Rauelsson’s, may be somber; but our eventual reaction may be acceptance, and even gratitude. The fog lifts, and as Heather Woods Broderick closes the album in soft song, the light finally triumphs. On and on our thoughts, like arrows to the sun … we are a map of mirrors. (Richard Allen)