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Mirah - Advisory Committee

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Artist: Mirah

Album: Advisory Committee

Label: K

Review date: Apr. 10, 2002

Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn's latest collection of indie-pop odes to romance and natural disaster is another product of her ongoing collaboration with percussionist and all-around soundscape architect Phil Elvrum, the dream-pop mastermind behind the critically acclaimed group, The Microphones. Elvrum's most frequent collaborator, Mirah is as adept at breathing a child's naive lilt as she is at soaring into the realms of a sultry chanteuse. Fans of The Microphones will recognize hers as the feminine touch that tends to complete Elvrum's most transcendental moments, both live and recorded.

Operatic in scope, Advisory Committee’s standout tracks are based around Mirah's nimble and folky acoustic guitar, but soon sprawl outward with strings, fuzz, and crushing drums that give Mirah's deceptively soft voice ample room to display a near Bjork-ian range. The comparisons to the Iceland's resident siren of the volcanoes needn't end there however, as Mirah's own lyrical territory takes a turn toward the pyroclastic on the track "Mt. St. Helens" where she sings with unabashed awe: "the mountain stood so large we were humbled / there had been a great disaster / the hot winds came just after / a tremendous shock was felt / survivors often tell / the trees all hit the ground / death was all around / and not a single lonesome sound".

On "Make it Hot", a sensual and expansive paean to the dissolution of the self, Mirah's seductive coo sounds like a Liz Phair song wrapped in pastel-colored paper as she confesses: "there is one addiction / I'd like to keep the power and the heat/ make it hot / take me over and over and over". The weight of Mirah's lyrics is easily balanced by Elvrum's golden touch, a personal quest "to try and wrap the music around the listener's head and make it feel like it's coming from within themselves, kind of like how you feel warm inside when you're actually freezing in the pounding snow...” He accomplishes the quest with the subtle flare of an analog-impressionist who has no need for psychedelic pretense. Advisory Committee, like Elvrum and The Microphones' recent releases, aches to be listened to on headphones.

More sprawling and sensual, but just as intimate Mirah's debut charmer from 2000,You Think It's Like This But's It's Really Like This..., a minimally arranged in-the-bedroom-with-a-guitar-drum-machine-and-four-track affair, Advisory Committee takes lo-fi indie-pop to a place where heartache and exhilaration are never far apart, and where even the slightest changes in temperature are astonishing.

By Daniel Dineen

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