SubRosa Premiere “The Mirror” from SubRosa Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017


SubRosa will release SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 on Dec. 1 through Burning World and Roadburn Records. Today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting the official premiere of ‘The Mirror,’ and as the entire album has already been reviewed here, I thought I might just take a minute to speak about the experience of seeing the Salt Lake City outfit play in this context. Won’t take a minute.

Het Patronaat is a revamped church included as a venue for the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands. It has stained glass windows, a high, vaulted ceiling, and hardwood floors. subrosa-subdued-live-at-roadburn-2017When it’s empty, before a band goes on, it feels cavernous. Massive. When it’s full and you’re pressed up against the stage, it can be as intimate as the smallest of Roadburn‘s venues. You’re right there. The band’s right there. And, oh yeah, there are about 700 other people in the room with you, but if you don’t turn around and look, it’s easy enough to pretend you’re in your own world. That’s basically how I watched SubRosa play their ‘SubDued’ set at this year’s Roadburn.

They’d been on the Main Stage the prior afternoon, playing their most recent album, the brilliant For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), in its entirety, but the concept behind ‘SubDued’ being that they’d strip away much of the distortion in favor of a mostly-acoustic presentation made it unmissable from my point of view. The setlist was older tracks — nothing off the latest record — and highlights like “Whippoorwill,” “The Inheritance” and “Cosey Mo” received new life through their revamped arrangements, the focus on meditative melody, raw rhythmic sway and a masterful presentation that turned deeply-weighted goth-tinged post-metal into exploratory neofolk no less complete in its realization. I don’t think any single moment emphasized this so much as when they played “The Mirror” as the second to last song in the set.

In terms of the arrangement, “The Mirror” was as minimal as SubRosa got: voice, drumsticks against microphone stands and a single floor tom for percussion, and that’s it. The violins, flutes, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, and samples/other noises that filled out other inclusions were set aside. Rebecca Vernon led Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack in harmony as she and drummer Andy Patterson — situated behind a front-line of players that also included bassist Levi Hanna and guest flutist/vocalist Kelly Schilling — kept time together in that seemingly simple fashion. subrosa subdued (photo jj koczan)It was beautiful and affecting in kind.

The song itself tells the story of a woman who, by her own admission, “took the easy road.” She gets married and has five kids in five years because that’s what you’re supposed to do where she’s from, but when her husband leaves her, she’s alone and poor and full of regret. In the end, she blames not him for the affair she had, but herself for not seeing the error of the lifepath she chose: the line, “I just look in the mirror and I find I only have myself to blame” stands out in a verse preceding the ultimate moral lesson of, “You gotta push against the current to get somewhere.” It’s a powerful sentiment, powerfully presented.

I’ll admit I wasn’t familiar with “The Mirror” before seeing it performed at Het Patronaat this past April. It comes from SubRosa‘s 2006 demo/EP The Worm has Turned and to my knowledge hasn’t featured on any subsequent release. This would seem to make its inclusion on SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 all the more special, since it’s a standout and something kind of exclusive to this form, this time, and this moment for the band. It certainly felt that way when they were playing it, and as I watched and listened, I became utterly entranced in the melody and the storytelling in a way that hasn’t left my mind in the half-year since. I feel fortunate for having been there to witness it and know that, in fact, I was.

Enjoy the premiere of “The Mirror” below, followed by some more preliminaries from the PR wire:

First ever live album by Subrosa after 5 studio albums on labels as Profound Lore and I Hate Records.

Recorded at the prestigious Roadburn Festival 2017 in a packed Patronaat. Mixed and mastered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa.

Vinyl version will follow in early 2018.

1. Whippoorwill
2. Borrowed Time Borrowed Eyes
3. Sugar Creek
4. The Inheritance
5. Cosey Mo
6. The Mirror
7. No Safe Harbor

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