Mirza: Last Clouds (Ba Da Bing!, 2001)
Mirza is a long-broken up quartet that made instrumental psychedelic space-rock in San Francisco. Last Clouds is a collection of their first ep that has long been out of print and a number of tracks that have been previously unreleased. This disc is on the Ba Da Bing! Label, but their previous releases were on Darla. Glenn Donaldson, Brian Lucas, Steven Smith, and Mark Williams make us this fine group of instrumental rockers of the void. They take melodies and patterns and weave them in and out of sounds and textures that excite and keep the listener attentive.
“Nostalgia” opens this disc and leads the listener into the world of Mirza with beautifully hypnotic percussion, bass, guitars, and keys (I think). This track really spins a web of psychedelic, blissed out rock. This ride is face-paces, yet serene. They seem to have the ability to make chaos; speed and fuzz seem pleasant and almost soothing at times. “Charity” quiets down and allows the listener to float on walls of intertwined guitars. The rhythm is solid and the music playing on top of it varied and hypnotic. Eventually it turns into a fuzzy wall of sound and the build is great. This is a 9-minute track of epic proportions and it has a sort of structured sort of jam feel to it. “East” brings forth some of Mirza’s certain eastern influence. An almost sitar type sound reverberates out of the guitars and a warbling drone emanates in the cracks of the percussion. There are violins in the mix eventually and things get raucous as the heat of the song increases with a surge.
“West” begins with a solid beat and some guitar noise accents. This continues with what sounds like blurbs of voice samples here and there. Twitters and feedback fill the air as the drone of the percussion and the bass lull the listener into a comfort zone while the guitars and noises float atop. This explodes into a veritable chaotic onslaught of loud drums and flaring guitars. This eventually fades away as the instruments strip themselves off and bass and quiet guitar play and then, they all come back in for a quick build. “Acts/Volcano Birds” sound initially like a jazz band gone awry. This chaotic sound eventually ebbs and begins another round of fuzzed out chaos. This abruptly stops and goes into shimmering guitars and spaced out noises that blend into a rock tour de force.
“Caspian Sea” begins with sparse, glittering guitars. This song is eerie and has a build that is intense and raucous. They really paint a beautiful landscape with their sound on this song. It ends in feedback and guitars reverberating as the song peters out. “Dust Crushed from a Moth” starts out with glimmering guitar and almost random sounding bass and jazz like drum work. There is also some guitar work in the swells of this track that have a very eastern feel. There is definitely some psychedelia going on here! “Pomegranate” follows with stripped down everything really. It has a minimalist psychedelic jazz feel with spaced out sounds mixed in. This song has more of an improvisation feel to it than the others, lacking a kind of hook or melody anywhere.
“Hope Part II” leads the listener on a short journey of soft, subtle relaxing music. This is one of the shorter tracks on the cd and is followed by another short track called “Cypress Trees.” Before they finish out “Hope,” fuzz and noise floats on the top of the peace and leads the listener into the forest. “Cypress” begins in an almost spooky sort of way. Perhaps the listener is lead to believe that the “Cypress Trees” are foreboding and in a dark, dank forest. As the forest fades into the background, “Last Clouds” begins, the longest track on the disc. “Clouds” has a floating, improvisational, minimalist beginning. This transforms into a kind of rock, jam session. This degenerates into a sort of wall of sound with layered guitars and pounding percussion. This devolves into even more chaos as time goes on. This degeneration lasts way too long for my taste, but, this conclusion to the album is probably my only real beef with it. For the most part, the album is great and has fantastic moments. Anyone into instrumental rock, psychedelic music, or improv would enjoy this disc highly.