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Mirage Robert Barry , April 1st, 2021 08:19

A one-off album by a duo from Tijuana leaves Robert Barry swooning

Before I had finished the end of the first track on the Bandcamp player, I knew that I wanted to have this tape. I wanted to buy it and get it home and listen to it once and then slot it into the box with all my other tapes and forget about it and then find it again one day much later and put it on and experience this same peculiar thrill of discovering it all over again only mingled, now, with the pleasures of recognition and slight familiarity, like that time I found the song from the end of Beyond the Black Rainbow on YouTube months after seeing the film by chance at a film festival in Paris and I just wanted to play it over and over again. Mirage is a thrill of a record. It sounds like seeing someone really, really fit for the first time and knowing, somehow, that you’re going to be together for ages. It sounds like bright blue raspberry flavour ice pops and over-sweetened off-brand cola. It sounds like staying indoors on the first hot day of the year, knowing you’re not going to make so much as a dent in that pile of work you have to do and not giving one single shit about it. It sounds like your favourite t-shirt. Do you remember the first time you ate a really, really good mango? It’s a hot day and the mango flesh is cool and fresh and still just a little bit crisp but you still get the juices all round your mouth and running down your fingers. That sticky feeling. This record sounds like that.

Mirage, the only album by a duo from Mexico who are themselves also called Mirage, has been out for a little while already, but for whatever reason it fell into my gmail inbox just the other day. “The initial wave of enthusiasm from family, friends, and acquaintances has waned at this point,” the email said, “so I’m hoping to guide it into a wider niche in the world of listeners.” Perhaps in other circumstances I might have said, hey, nice, thanks! Let me know when the next one comes out. And left it at that. But there never will be a next Mirage record. There’ll never be another Mirage record because one of the two guys that made it died before it came out.

The first and last and only album by Mirage was recorded over three years between 2017 and 2019 in Tijuana. “Only a mere fifteen or twenty foot distance separated us from the militarized US-Mexico Border, which provided a backdrop of constant flood lights and sirens blaring through the nearby concrete Plaza as we worked through the night,” writes Alfonso Azcaiturrieta, one half of the duo that made it, on the record’s Bandcamp page. “It provided all we needed to work feverishly, almost manically, on a record that Brandon and I had sought to record together ever since the beginning of our friendship almost 15 years ago.” Fifteen years of friendship, three years spent recording, finally released just this past January to be enthusiastically greeted by a small circle of friends and family. Now, months later, I’m sitting here freaking out listening to this record. But time is meaningless to an album like Mirage which could almost have come out any time in the past forty years, any time since the invention of the DX7 and the Linn Drum, at least. And at the same time, I can’t really imagine it coming out any other time apart from now, right now, perhaps even a short while in the near future.

Think of all your favourite songs by Scritti Politti, Grace Jones, Mylène Farmer, Adele Bertei, Wham. Now imagine that none of the people who wrote those songs really wrote those songs. Imagine they all ripped them off – the melodies, the rhythms, the sound, the feel, the lot. Imagine it was all stolen from some other artist, some obscure studio-bound hermit without the looks and the money and the record label pull. Imagine some baroque conspiracy to have the music of that original artist suppressed. Every copy of their work deleted and pulped. Just one third gen copy remaining, buried in a ditch for decades, then finally dug up, a little warped, a little grimy. Do you ever hear a record and feel like it’s been made just for you?