Aonghus Reidy, Ocean Floor, feels like an artefact from a bygone era. The music he creates has a graceful simplicity to it, he generally plays a piano/organ with minimal effects, but what he plays is anything but simple. On his 2014 opus ‘Jupiter’ elegant melodies were hidden behind huge swaths of reverb and noise that made Reidy sound like Captain Nemo hammering away in the belly of the Nautilus. The music was bombastic and in your face, something that Ocean Floor rarely is, but it was undeniable how immediate and sublime it was.
On new release Mirror, Reidy has slowed things down and delivered something intriguing and incredibly playable. From the opening notes of ‘Mirror 1’ it’s easy to tell this is a different, more reflective album, than anything he’s recorded before. Instead of trying to blow us away with complexity, or sheer volume, Reidy is creating delicate sounds but taking his time in the build up by playing slowly and carefully. At times you can almost picture his fingers hovering over the keys; he changes his mind, before going back to the original selections and the whole process starts again. The album follows on the pattern of delicate piano runs and synths brooding in the background adding texture and tension until ‘Mirror 5’. Here he changes things up a bit by including an electric guitar. It works wonderfully well as the slight change in tone and texture arrive at the right time. It shakes things up and allows us a period of self-reflection to think about what we’ve heard so far.
One part of the album that isn’t apparent until repeat listens is how much space there is in between the notes. This is important as it gives us a chance to catch our breath, but it also lets us contemplate and understand what’s going on. Instead of showboating how fast he can play and how complex the compositions are, Reidy does the opposite. He slows everything down to a crawl so we have time to take everything in and bask in understated beauty of Mirror. It could be argued that Reidy could get to the crux of each song a bit faster, but that isn’t the point of Mirror. It’s not about where the end point is, but how you got there.
When listening to Mirror there is a feeling of déjà vu, like you’ve already heard this before, and that is because you have. All of the 10 tracks are variations from one early morning piano improvisation recorded in 2014. Over the years Reidy returned to this piece, played around with its pacing, tone and texture. Adding a guitar, synths and paring it down until he was satisfied. And this is what Mirror is. The result of years of thought, tinkering and experimentation, and this is why it is such an exquisite album. It shows that given time, and patience, brilliant things are created. In a world demanding for release, after release, after release, it’s refreshing to see an artist take their time and really get to the point of what this body of music is about, rather than rush something out because they feel they have to. If given time Mirror is an album that will get under your skin and make you reassess your relationship with the creative process. Just ask Reidy.
The self released Mirror is out now.