Album Review: Federico Durand - A Traves Del Espejo (Through The Mirror)

I bought Federico Durand’s new album, A Traves Del Espejo, which translates to Through The Mirror, on CD, which I probably didn’t need to do—I could have just downloaded it because it’s the kind of album, as I feared, that I would only be able to listen to on my headphones.

This is because of the track, “Time to Sleep,” which features recordings of a parent and child talking, and when played over the stereo, this track created a problem for my companion rabbit, Annabell. She thumped (meaning she was angry or upset) and that was a sure sign that it was time to shut the album off.

Annabell would give this album a ‘two paws down’ rating based on this instance alone.

And this is the risk one takes with any music, really, when you have a companion animal with sensitive ears. But specifically, with ambient, or experimental music. It’s always a little touch and go with the weirder stuff I choose to listen to—wondering how she is going to react to it, which means a bulk of my ambient and experimental music is either a) purchased digitally and rarely listened to unless I am at the computer for an extended period of time, or b) purchased physically, but rarely listened to due to reactions such as a stern thump.

Maybe it’s for the best because like a many of Durand’s albums, and many albums in this genre, Through The Mirror is a true headphone record.

It’s a quiet, reserved experience; best suited to intimate and attentive, rather than something that is played in the car, or over the home stereo while you make dinner. Durand’s m.o. is usually quiet and reserved, but Through The Mirror feels even more so, combining the work of recording bells and chimes found on 2013’s The Language of Fireflies with the evocative ambient looping techniques of 2014’s La Estrella Dormida.

It’s a record that juxtaposes the slight menace, or damaged sounding (“Shadow Play”) with sheer beauty and wonder (“The Enchanted Garden,”) and sometimes both at the same time (“The Cricket of Nacre”), showing what both ambient and experimental music, as well as Durand as a performer and composer, are capable of.

Through The Mirror tries, and succeeds (thumps aside) at showcasing the fragile splendor that can be found in the most quiet and reflective of moments—an album that walks the line between being a grand artistic statement (like all of Durand’s work) and a secret told to you in a voice that barely rises above the most comforting and reassuring whispers.