Onuinu - Mirror Gazer - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Onuinu - Mirror Gazer

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2012-09-25

The newest sound from that hub of uber-hipster cool, Portland, is the 'disco-hop' of Onuinu ('on you in you', charmingly) and Mirror Gazer. Really, though, you could regard the likes of 'Ice Palace' and 'Happy Home' as chillwave's awkward shuffle from the bedroom to the club dancefloor. Not that this music sounds awkward, despite it's regulation indie-boy slouch. Like Toro Y Moi, multi-instrumentalist Dorian Duvall seems equally confident whether programming beats or strumming a guitar, giving songs such as the excellent, funky title track a full, diverse sound not rooted wholly in either dance or indie.

Mirror Gazer is a consistently enjoyable listen, only marred by Duvall's occasionally shrill, grating vocals, a problem which, to be fair, he shares with a vast swathe of current US alternative bands. If you can't pull off a falsetto, chaps, don't do it. When tracks such as 'A Step in the Right Direction' or album highlight 'Always Awkward' come with such bum-shaking grooves, those yearning, yowling boy-scout-come-eunuch vocals just sound annoyingly out of place, rendering what should be sensual as oddly sexless. Duvall should be aiming for Prince here, not Panda Bear.

Another facet to Mirror Gazer is its use of 90s ambient house vibes, most evident on the brief but lovely 'A Night With...' Clearly a man who likes to mix his genres, Duvall also dabbles successfully with prog guitar heroics ('A Step in the Right Direction'), kosmische musik (the Tangerine Dream-y interlude 'Lost') and some MOR 80s balladry on 'Last Word'. 'Forever', meanwhile, is an outstanding mix of cosmic electronica and rumbling hip hop bass'n'beats.

Overall, Mirror Gazer has enough going on to make it one the most forward-thinking (yet comfortingly retro-feeling) albums of the year. It's just a shame Duvall lacks the vocal prowess to give these songs the emotional, sexual wallop they need. That said, there's no doubt this record is a step in the right direction for a relatively new genre that was in danger of going stale.

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