The package that contained a press kit and this album by Chicago-based Mira Mira also included a note from songwriter and pianist Charlie Williams. It said, among other things – "I'm excited to share this album with you – it's best heard, I think, on the 5th listen." It could have been playful hyperbole… but I was intrigued. So I took it to heart and listened to the whole album the prescribed five times.
On first listen, it's an odd conglomeration of songs. Perky exultations to Atlas merge into meandering instrumental movements. A line or two erupts with expletive force from the webs of sounds and sound sources – echoed piano lines, vaguely organic computerized strains, and the untrained but heartfelt vocals of Williams and others. It seemed somewhat simplistic at times, others, bemusedly complicated.
But with each pass through, the classical training that Williams enjoyed… or endured… comes through in the sense of layering and textures that permeate the album. It's an orchestral dynamic, parts overlapping and intertwining, creating their own map of sound. The topography of the album becomes more evident with each listen – peaks and valleys of text, texture, emotion, empathy.
The title track, "Midnight for You" draws us into the valleys – a simple premise of love lost and gone far away, and a dynamically repetitive piano line. The layers of sound are painted watercolor style, each translucent to those underneath, giving way to a new shade, fading to a radio buzz of static remaining in the wash at the end. The instrumental "Nikita's Ghost" is creepily wonderful, strumming guitars moving with something like sirens, and voices appearing and disappearing in the murk.
There is catharsis in the listening. Each time draws you further into Mira Mira's emotive process, hearts like blood-red stains on the sleeve, and makes their ability to take pain and pleasure and make music of it your own as well. You say goodbye to the good, the bad, and the just gone, and feel it all just fade away with a final buzz into sonic darkness.