Mirror was formed in 1972 by four high school kids, Johan Saanen (bass guitar), Paula Mennen (vocals and keyboards), Kees Walravens (guitar) and Peter Fransen (drums) in the south of the Netherlands. In 1973 they were joined by Philip de Goey (sax, woodwinds and oboe). In 1976 Mirror records it's first and only album, Daybreak. The music is influenced by Pink Floyd, Yes, Trace and Focus. After the release of the album they toured increasingly in Holland. But rather soon the were having disagreements about the business side of the band. This led to the departure of Johan. Then there was an argument about who had written the music and this finally meant the end of Mirror in late 1976.
After the Mirror Philip de Goey, Kees Walravens and Johan Saanen start a new progressive rockband, Lethe in 1978. It was named after the mythical Greek river that was the border of the underworld. With Lethe they record one album, Lethe, in 1981.
In the nineties Saanen, Walravens and Fransen play together in a cover band called Looking For Clues. De Goey plays in a lot of ensembles and is currently active in Bustan.
Produced by Roel Toering
LP TLP (1976)
This is a superb album by this rather unknown band. It contains excellent symphonic rock, influenced by Camel, Focus, Panthéon and Yes. The music is mainly instrumental, but in parts there are vocals sung by Paula Mennen. Who sounds a bit like Earth and Fire's Jerney Kaagman.
The first track, Daybreak, is my favorite track on the album. It has a fast pace and sounds like a cross between Yes (Yes Album era) and Camel (Raindances era). Goodbye starts with the high, clear voice of Mennen but soon becomes a sort of jazzy, jam tune. This is followed by a melodic guitar solo. Dear boy is the shortest track on the album. It is a somewhat poppy, nice song. The album ends with the long Edge of Night. It starts spooky and has different parts which are both moody and slow, but also up-tempo.
This album deserves a release on CD and would make a good addition to any prog collection.
(Agemo, Dutch Progressive Rock of the Seventies)
A somewhat chameleonic album. It opens with a bright organ riff reminding of Yes' "Yours is no disgrace," but soon transforms into a long, spacey guitar solo a la Pink Floyd. The rest of the album is mainly instrumental, shifting seamlessly between the symphonic and the spacey. Singing keyboardist Paula Mennen has a wee little voice. On the slightly poppy short tune "Dear Boy," the effect is similar to a French pop chanteuse like Françoise Hardy. The use of woodwinds, oboe in particular, lends an unique quality to this album. One drawback is that the homemade sound sometimes shows through, primarily in the ticky-tacky keyboard equipment used like the Farfisa combo organ used on the balance of the album. Otherwise, a rarity worth keeping an eye out for.
One of the true European rarities that I was fortunate to hear as early as 1992 or so, and then eventually traded my way into an LP copy a few years later. Sometimes it's hard to be objective about big ticket items such as this. On one hand there's a tendency to say it's great, just because it's rare as hens teeth (though the internet has mitigated this effect somewhat). Then, on the other hand, there's the temptation to state all of these rarities are just amateurish wannabees, and the only reason it's a rare private release is because they weren't good enough to sign to a major. Of course, as with most things, the truth is found on a case by case basis, and the generalities rarely apply.
With Mirror, knowing full well my sympathies weigh heavily in favor of a positive outcome, and trying to be as objective as possible, I still feel it's a strong album based on merits alone. It certainly isn't a flashy release, and the compositions aren't going to win any Conservatory awards. But what they lack in academic pedigree, they make up for in naive sincerity. Mirror bring that intangible known as atmosphere, that certain something that special recordings possess. Make no mistake, "Daybreak" is seriously flawed, but that's part of its charm. Even in my most cynical musical moments, I find albums like this refreshing. A tier 1 album. Mirror evolved into Lethe, and even managed to improve on a similar methodology
Recorded at MMP Studios, Waalwijk
LP MMP 10781 (1981)
This album by Lethe can be seen as the follow up of the Daybreak album, since this band contains the core of musicians who recorded Mirror. The music of both albums is similar. This record however is completely instrumental and the production is much better. It is best compared to the music of Camel.
The album opens with birds, piano and oboe. Then a classical guitar is added. So a very quiet and relaxed opening. The second track continues where the first one left us. It is only after a few minutes when the full rock band starts to play. This part of the song contains some excellent guitar and organ playing in the vein of Camel. On the third track an important role is reserved for the flute. Again a great track. On the closer all the elements of Lethe's music come together once again. It is a melodic track, with good guitar solos, some oboe, flute. Relaxed parts and rocking parts.
This is another good album, and a little better than the Mirror album. I can recommend this anyone who likes some good instrumental progressive rock, and especially for those who like Camel.
(Agemo, Dutch Progressive Rock of the Seventies)
Lethe's album starts off rather inconspicuously with a classically oriented oboe, acoustic guitar and piano piece. But, just as Mirror before them, the band launches into a sophisticated, but highly melodic progressive rock form. And while Side 1 is good, side 2 is an absolute clinic on how to combine complexity and yet still maintain a strong melodic backbone. This is the album that Camel never made after "Moonmadness". Astounding album really.