As I sit and stare outside my bedroom window, the world outside swallows me whole. I stare blankly at the mouth of a world too vast and too complicated for my small mind space to take in, to accept. Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? Why must I exist in a world so fucked? These questions haunt me into insomnia every night. Their pressure on my chest and shoulders I carry through my days until I can numb myself with my various vices. That is until I came across one artist, one album that reminded me of who I was and who I wanted to be. That artist is Gotye, and his album is “Making Mirrors”.
One of my closest friends, Alex, once introduced me to Gotye by showing me two short documentaries on the making of “Making Mirrors”. I was blown away by the shear artistry that went into this record! I was amazed that one man, with the help of just a few friends, can create such a beautiful piece of art. I found my inspiration once more, and remembered the thing that drives me to get out of bed each morning, the thing that turns the light on in this dark world for me: Music. Can one record really have that kind of power? I really believe it can. I want to recommend this record to you, my dear readers, not because I expect it to have the same impact on you, but simply because I feel it’s a great album, and I want you to give it a shot!
I won’t go too much into how the record was made, I’ll let these short documentaries speak for themselves. If you have 20 minutes, I really encourage you to check these out, before or after you listen to the record. Some of you suggested I try to write these recommendations a little shorter, therefore I won’t dig into every track on the record, I’ll simply discuss what I think are some of the highlights.
Gotye hails from Melbourne, Australia. He released “Making Mirrors” in 2011. He released two other records previous to “Making Mirrors”, but I don’t enjoy them quite as much because I don’t think they were recorded with the same originality as “Making Mirrors”. I do really enjoy the single off of his sophomore record, however. It’s called “Hearts A Mess”, if you’re interested.
“Making Mirrors” opens with the title track, which serves as an introduction to the album more than a song. It opens with what sound like some type of woodwind instrument, then a bass is introduced into the mix. The bass drones deep in the mix in contrast with the floating woodwinds. Gotye sings two stanzas of abstract imagery, and it sets the tone for what the album has in store. This intro is beautiful and sounds as if it’s coming down the heavens.
“Easy Way Out” is the second track, and it’s one of my favorites on the record. It’s short and sweet, and has an exploding power to it. The prominent sounds are a fuzzy bass and guitar during the intro and choruses. The contrasting verses are softer, but Gotye packs on layers of sampled sounds, synthesizer sequences, and a ton of various percussive instruments. It’s disorienting to try and pick each sound apart from the other as the layers meld together so elegantly into a beautifully edgy and powerful song. Gotye gives us a taste of his vocal abilities in this song as well; he sings the verses in a low, soft voice, and he sings the chorus in falsetto (a whispery head-voice). The lyrics are interesting and very relatable (especially for me) as they are a poetic take on procrastination. He sings about the voice in his head that rationalizes his lack of effort during mundane yet necessary activities, and just how easy it is to give in to that voice and give up. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but his back up vocals during the pre-chorus seem like they might represent that voice in his head. This description really only scratches the surface, you really just have to go and listen to it!
I mentioned that “Easy Way Out” gives us a taste of Gotye’s vocal skills. It’s like an appetizer before the main course that is “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Now, I know most people by now (myself included) consider this song overplayed thanks to mainstream and local radio stations. But how many of you have really “listened” to the song? I urge to try it just once, to listen to this song with an attentive ear, and listen to the layers upon layers of instrumentation and harmonies. Listen to how odd the sounds are, but how when mixed with the other sounds they create one of the most unique and catchy songs ever recorded (in my opinion). Listen to how the instruments have a call and response relationship with Kimbra (the featured singer from New Zealand). And listen to how during Kimbra’s verse, the music builds up before the nuclear bomb that is the final chorus! When I listen to this song, I often feel as though Gotye calculated and discovered a scientific formula for the most memorable music.
The fourth track on the record happens to be my favorite on the entire record. “Eyes Wide Open” is to me a refreshing take on a topic often explored: The negative impact of the capitalist system on the world (climate change, poverty, hunger, etc.). Gotye expresses the way in which we are consciously heading down the path of destruction through his poetic verses; “We walk the plank with our eyes wide open.” The song features a fairly simple bass line, and a driving, galloping drum beat. The song also has a haunting pedal steel guitar, which I think is a great touch of creativity. The part about this song that I love the most is not just the content, but also the method by which it was created. See the short documentary to learn more!
The last highlight I want to mention is the song “State of the Art”. One of the documentaries also explains the making of this song; therefore I’m not going to delve too deeply into how it was made. What I want to emphasize is just how creative this song is! It’s so jam-packed with layers of samples, synthesizer melodies, and it was mostly all done on an old court organ from way back in the day; an instrument that most people have either never seen, or simply believe it to be obsolete at this point in time. The song progresses as Gotye packs on more and more layers, until at the very end, the song detonates with every single layer playing at once. I can see how someone might be put off by the vocals in this track because they are so synthetic, but check out the documentary in which he explains his intent and method, and you’ll surely have a better appreciation for it (as I evidently have).
It’s so hard for me to stop here and not pick apart every song on this album. I love them all with the deepest appreciation, and I hope “Making Mirrors” can inspire you in some way, shape, or form, as it has me. So in conclusion, I want to once more urge you to check out “Making Mirrors”, and let me know how you feel about it! Shoot me a message on Facebook, or let me know the next time you bump into me! Also, I’m still working out the style in which I want to write these recommendations, so any feedback will be much appreciated!
Thanks for reading.