John Tejada and Takeshi Nishimoto have been recording and performing together as I'm Not A Gun since 2003. With a trio of excellent records released on Berlin's City Centre Offices imprint, the duo are treating things as more of a family affair for their fourth effort, Mirror, putting it out via Tejada's own Palette Recordings. Those unfamiliar with the project may be taken aback at first: The finely wrought melodic techno that Tejada has become so widely known for is nowhere to be found in the mix, the synths and sequencers left at home in favor of more organic instrumentation; centered on a core of guitar, bass and drums, Mirror showcases a collection of downtempo gems that reference everything from jazz to IDM to ambient.
Tracks like "Looking Into" and "Four Steps" sputter into existence in a cloud of chopped and screwed guitar samples before blossoming into a languid weave of interlocking guitar lines and head-nodding rhythms, and others, like the gorgeous "Bright View, Windy Blue," get right to the point, underpinning dense clumps of guitar chords and sparkling drones with the sort of galloping beats that would seem right at home on a Mice Parade release.
The album resembles a stripped-down revision of the revered Chicago post-rock ensemble Tortoise at times, while at others it veers towards the sort of electronically augmented instrumental pop trafficked in by Christopher Willits. But despite all of this unabashed eclecticism, Tejada and Nishimoto never fail to hit their mark, making Mirror conspicuously free of filler. Of course, Tejada's masterful production skills make the album worth a listen on their own merits. With every instrument crisply recorded and situated precisely in the mix—not to mention a judicious approach to the use of effects—Mirror is a real treat for the ears.
Even though Mirror isn't really much of a departure from the duo's previous releases, it does find Tejada and Nishimoto refining their techniques and solidifying their signature sound. What's refreshing is that they aren't pushing themselves for the sake of the "new," instead opting to do what they already do so well: crafting lush instrumentals that are a welcome respite from the constant thump of the dance floor and a perfect soundtrack for the morning after.
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Tracklist: I'm Not A Gun - Mirror 01. Longing Mind
03. Ghost Has Gone
04. Four Steps
05. Turning Circle
06. Looking Into
07. The Dance
08. Bright View, Windy Blue
09. 9th Day