Chris Mitchell is back on the scene and this time he has flipped the script with a beatless LP titled “Shadow Lands” on XCPT. Available in cassette tape form and digital, this project will leave you stunned. Eight compositions that are completely unique and separate but yet fit together. The cohesive nature is due to the titles, each tune feels eerie and emotive by virtue of Mitchell’s synth choices and effects work. Really this release could be a series of soundtracks for movie scenes and the like. Mitchell really looked into himself to pull out these tones and his imagination has really matured in comparison to his earlier works. The sonic palette is quite full and impressive in that the full frequency spectrum is used and with every new listen you discover new elements. For chilling, cleaning, or smoking this release will keep one’s mind going, placing unconscious suggestions into your psyche, which will make one want to play it over and over again.
Severing the Pain on Analysis///Mitchell begins the project with a bubble like arpeggio that leads into melody and harmony tones. The choir effect is in full form, giving this first song an ancient church feel. The long drones become the forefront and hypnotize you just to be replace by a forever morphing arpeggio. The drones come in and out with different amount of velocities giving variety to the sound.
Undivided///A tin like melody comes out the box that is supported by a bass line. Like an 80’s science fiction movie, the synths and melody sound like they should be accompanying a low budget b film in where something shocking had been revealed. As the tune progresses, new tones appear to create an atmosphere of perhaps remorse.
Igo///Noise is the theme here, distorted waveforms pulsate while a sub bass booms underneath it all. Quite subtly is there a white noise line sounding and suddenly distraught tones play. These tones continue to modulate as one hi-hat can be heard keeping the tempo. Short and sweet is this track, and I am picturing a space traveler who’s life is suddenly in danger; and the traveler fails to save it.
Galdos///An aggressive bass tone begins followed by sparse synth work. The pulsating effects and distortion could cause some disturbing thoughts. One could ask what happened, or would be asking if this sound was brought to life. Again hi-hats strike as the next section begins with an arpeggio lightening up the mood a bit. Mitchell really got that SH-101 sound going here.
After the Fall///The lighter side of Mitchell is present here. The tones are not as harsh as in the previous tunes until the bass line arrives. The bass changes the complexion of the whole tune. Really it is sweet and sour. While the tones above are nice and airy with beautiful synth patches and effects, while the bass is evil and hard. Like the Gemini astrological sign, one is getting two personalities wrapped up in one.
Spirits of the Fallen///Sparse melody notes ring from the ether. The bass line is driving and all these elements are sounding. It is a slow sensory overload. The low sounding horns are speaking. I cannot quite make out the message but there is definitely meaning there. The bass line is keeping the pulse like a march to the place where the spirits will rest their weary souls.
Weighs in Passing///Dissident notes sound almost like random arpeggios, but there is order to this madness. The tone timbres are actually quite soft sounding but mixed with the tone pitches makes the piece a bit uneasy. Sometimes some of the tones are panning left to right and are joined by bass notes and drones. I get a feeling that a surprise is about to happen at any moment. Like a guy about to pull a table cloth from the table with dishes on it, except he never does. Quite the build up with no release is my description.
Prayers in Empty Street///Mitchell ends the project with arpeggios and droning synths. The drones make the tune rhythmic with them serving as the back beat, striking on the two and four. Maybe the most straight forward composition in the project, however I am okay with that due to the fact my brain needed the time to process all of what I just experienced.