Discover a Mirror
Discover A Mirror is a self-released album -- but far from being another faceless slab of lo-fi indie rock, it's a riveting journey into the singular power of music. Yes, it leans more towards the adult contemporary charts than CMJ's top twenty, but any listener who cares more about music than image will be spellbound by this journey. Besides, Sen are obscure enough to score instant indie cred -- they're a quiet and mysterious band from Vienna, Austria (only a few international borders and a stretch of very cold water away from Sigur Rss), and if you can find any pertinent information on their web site, you're one up on me. Most indie releases stray from more mainstream desires for vocal clarity, but it's hard to ignore the base power that can be conveyed in a beautiful, soaring voice. This is Sen's focal point -- an undeniable grace and sincerity contained within a unique combination of smooth jazz stylings, melancholy lyrics and powerfully raw vocals. Manuel Zeiter has a touch of Bauahusian grandeur and theatrical inflection in his voice that perfectly compliments the raw beauty of Kerstin Steiner's folksy vocals. The harmony they create will stop you in your tracks; you'll ponder the meaning of slightly obscure lyrics such as 'Pick me up / so let me find / I can walk on the ground / I need a second to think' ('Breath On The Wave'). ' Discover A Mirror''s take on power-pop is elevated with a jazz-flavored sax and a hint of flamenco beats, bolstering the vocals' rich sentiment while never overstating their presence. You'll detect some fairly obvious Rusted Root-style eclecticism in the music, although it leans more toward a consistent Celtic feel than a broader world beat sound. It's hard to go wrong with Irish accents, and Sen haven't messed them up; the earthiness accentuates the folk elements that underpin these glossy pop stylings. This musical and emotional diversity carries Discover A Mirror, even when it leans dangerously close to overproduced commercial gloss. Sen create a perfect balance of confident production and DIY unpredictability -- the best of indie-rock and more commercial material. The musicianship is first rate, the lyrics are moving and well written, and the vocals are full of richly emotive beauty and power. Vocals this good are a killer hook, whether the album in question is pressed up in million-copy batches or duplicated one at a time on a bedroom CDR drive. If you don't believe me, just listen. -- Ryan Smith Sen is a work in progress. Through our music, we express emotions in a dark and intense atmosphere that describe our inner landscapes. Reflections on our emotions are transformed into music and transported into public space. By making this journey to our real selves, we create an atmosphere that invites you to explore your own inner meanings more closely. This journey leads us from melancholy and depression to strong, impressive sounds.