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Last Clouds

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Album Review

A useful after-the-fact reissue that collects the group's initial four-song EP along with seven otherwise available cuts, Last Clouds makes a good case for Mirza as one of the better American post-rock/space rock bands of the '90s. If the combination of smoky psychedelia, instrumental jamming, cascading blissout, and tense drama — the latter in particular being the group's secret weapon, as cuts like the opening "Nostalgia" show — wasn't per se unique, the end results still make for an excellent listen. Eschewing vocals in favor of letting the music itself be the calling card, the quartet more often than not transcends obvious influences to achieve their own reasonable blend of meditative calm and rough, strong power. Certainly anyone thinking that Mirza was just a Steven R. Smith project would get a fine surprise from the sense of full-band connection here — if the tracks weren't recorded live, they certainly sound like it. Hearing the near-Cure-level bass that starts off "East" and drives it and the band forward to an explosive effort that easily reaches the peak of prime Ash Ra Tempel makes for a fine, fierce experience, as does its equally involving counterpart, "West." The hitherto unreleased cuts, if sometimes lacking the richness that the mostly eight-track recordings used for the EP possess, still make for a great listen. More than once the band ends up sounding even more intense than ever — "Acts/Volcano of Birds" practically charges out of one's speakers in a mess of distortion and rampaging drums, while "Dust Crushed From a Moth" is at once monstrous and majestic, epic guitar leads sailing out over the rhythms. Other winners: the quiet start to guitar rage of "Caspian Sea" and the more restrained zoneout of "Cypress Trees," brief but still captivating.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

Instrumental neo-psych combo Mirza was the brainchild of guitarist Steven R. Smith, who formed the group from the remnants of his previous band, Ursa Minor. Based in San Francisco, Mirza debuted in 1997 with Anadromous, their contribution to Darla Records'...
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Last Clouds, Mirza
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