Some artists have the simple ability to change how everyday life sounds when everything starts to become monotonous. The problem is that some of them have a ridiculously massive discography, and newcomers to Z’EV, if indeed anyone is left who hasn’t heard his work, surely will find themselves lost, asking the question, “where in the hell should I begin with this?”.
I won‘t lie—Z‘EV is the kind of artist that I’ve never really been all that interested in before. I suppose that it’s because of his heavy sound experiments in the face of my preference for more clear, detailed, and structured soundscapes. Yet, somehow, this great trilogy that has been written based on magical elements—and as the description states is an “intersection of light and dark, catching waves of luminescence between prisms and mirrors that fragments particles into shimmering washes of sound“—found its way towards these ears, which have understandably been hungry for new aural blood for some time now.
Eleven Mirrors to the Light is the third and final installment into the trilogy. Its two predecessors, Sum Things in 2009 and A Handful of Elements in 2013, were also released by one of contemporary industrial music’s most respectable giants, Cold Spring Records. These recordings have such a strange and obscure sound—even for Z’EV—that it‘s difficult to imagine something earthy or in any way ordinary while listening to them, as the artwork depicts. To create a clearer picture of what is at work in Z’EV’s universe of Eleven Mirrors to the Light, however, it should be stated that these recordings mostly appear to have a lineage that stems more from the drone ambient and experimental fields than what could be labelled as something obviously industrial in nature. There is something unwell or rancid about the music on Eleven Mirrors to the Light. These recordings sound like a corrupted soul that once stood for something beautiful. Though there is clearly nothing horror-based here, the album has a strange immensity that could sound frightening in the right context, because what you hear while listening to Eleven Mirrors to the Light (as well as its sister releases) is a cruel feast of sound itself. Z’EV’s new offering ultimately reminds me of broken visual textures and, somehow, it remains enjoyable.
As mentioned, the cover of the album (indeed, as a common theme across the trilogy) observes nature—sky, trees, etc.—yet, despite my aforementioned comment on this reflecting drone ambient more than industrial, it sounds more like giant humming machines with an infinite number of mechanisms. The album has eleven songs and each has a precise duration of just over, or at, seven minutes, so it is absolutely huge. Listening to Eleven Mirrors to the Light brings all of Z’EV’s work over the past seven years together into a cohesive, epic climax. I can‘t imagine listening to a particular track as it‘s impossible to get a full picture while doing so on any given installment of the trilogy. This clearly means that in order to get the full experience that Eleven Mirrors to the Light has to offer, you’re going to have to invest more in Z’EV’s music, not only in terms of time (and the obvious financial burden of purchasing all three releases), but endurance.
Still, the album has many beautiful moments, from which I could exclude tracks like ‘Speil’, ‘Svetlo’, and virtually the entire second half. There is some really deep-audio-style ambience (think Bad Sector) being created here, and the most interesting structures of sound in these tracks are undoubtedly created through its more experimental elements.
I understand the connection between nature and the magical properties that Z’EV’s trilogy is supposed to illuminate, but if I had my say, I would have changed the cover art to something much more dark, majestic, and atmospheric to match his compositions in spirit a bit better. For example, while listening to seventh track, ‘Espejo’, I couldn’t help but imagine some nightmarish post-dystopian journey, flying above destroyed mega-cities and witnessing the carnage that has befallen mankind. What I don’t find in the music of Eleven Mirrors to the Light is any form of natural, organic element.
I sincerely hope that, with this album, Stefan Joel Weisser has finally found what he was searching for while creating the trilogy. Few artists are able to say that they’ve given so much to experimental music, as this man has now spent thirty-five years developing his craft. This trilogy, inevitably, isn’t just another three-tier sound experiment. In all likelihood, Eleven Mirrors to the Light is meant to bookend the crowning achievement of an artist who has spent most of his life exploring industrial sound. I spoke of the endurance it may take for his audience earlier, but certainly it would be a small offering in light of the endurance that Z’EV has gracefully shown over his career.