By Evan McKay
In late November of 2015, a curious experimental pop album by Ottawa’s Merganzer, better known as violinist Mika Posen, made its way into the public’s ears.
A 10-track LP with instrumentation varying from Posen’s signature violin to moody moog and synth sounds, Mirror Maze became a sure accomplishment for the classically trained violinist. After one year since it’s release, Mirror Maze will be finding a new home on vinyl this October, with the help of local label, Record Centre Records.
“I released my album just on CD and digital format last November,” Posen said. “I was doing everything independently and paying for everything myself and vinyl just seemed absolutely unaffordable. It was my first time releasing an album and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. It just seemed like a really big commitment to order such a huge and heavy physical product. Even though that’s how I always envisioned the album, on vinyl.”
Though she could not bring her vision to fruition with the initial release, Posen found a saving grace within local record store owner and audiophile, John Thompson.
“I was living in Ottawa, and I was doing an interview for a podcast right before my album came out,” Posen explained. “One of the guys who was interviewing me told me about John from The Record Centre. He told me that he really wants to make sure that local artists are putting out high quality releases that sound great and look beautiful. So they suggested I get in touch with him. So here we are a year later, putting out the same album on vinyl!”
Mirror Maze is an ethereal mix of experimental pop and reverence for classical composers such as Dvorak and Mendelssohn, two of Posen’s favourites. The album entraps the listener in it’s dreamy world but lets them wander through the vast instrumentation and explore the depths of Posen’s musical prowess. It is both nostalgically familiar and refreshingly new.
In the lead up to Mirror Maze’s release, Posen lived in Berlin to join Agnes Obel’s live band as a violinist.
“I spent a lot of time by myself in Berlin” Posen said with a chuckle. “In that time I ended up visiting some of the graves of my favourite composers. I went to Dvorak’s grave in Prague, so I have one song on the album that’s about Dvorak, and sort of about that day. And I went to visit Mendelssohn’s grave in Berlin. So I have another song that’s about Mendelssohn and about other things that were going through my mind at the time too.”
The two songs that Posen is speaking about are”Vltava” and “Songs Without Words” respectively.
“So I suppose in that way, [Berlin] and my experiences there influenced the songs. It was very powerful I found, having spent so much time playing their music,” she said.
The Mirror Maze vinyl release will take place on Oct. 8 at The Record Centre. The show will see Posen accompanied by her long-time friend and musical collaborator Katie Hurdon, to play a unique live version of Mirror Maze which will include acoustic piano and string loops.
“I’ve always wanted to do a show that was just piano and instruments,” Posen said. “The Record Centre happened to have a piano so this might finally be my chance to do it. There’s not a lot of venues in Ottawa that have pianos, so I think this will be a special one!” •