Lost in Reflections stands as the second full length record in the Black Needle Noise catalog. It collects all of the BNN singles that have been released over the course of the the past few months into one release, with the addition of a new song (which I’ll be covering below). It is wonderfully convenient to have all of these songs together, but the real treasure is hearing how the many different artists interpret John Fryer’s music. Lost in Reflections is a kaleidoscope of musical treasures…each track a new and colorful facet of John Fryer’s genius. His ability to pick collaborators is uncanny, their words seamlessly meld with his soundscapes in a way that’s nothing short of magic.
Since I’ve been covering a Black Needle Noise track every single week for the past four months, I feel like I’m in a pretty unique position to review this record. Every song on the record has a full review that can be found on my John Fryer / Black Needle Noise page, but for this review I’m going to list the songs in their Lost in Reflection order, with my favorite quote attached to them. I feel like this is the most intimate way to share my reflections since I’ve spent so much time with each of these songs, with Neon Noir being the new track exception.
Track #1 – Black Needle Noise with ZiaLand – Treasured Lies
ZiaLand’s vocals convey the tortured soul that’s the focus of the story here, but there’s hope. The heart does indeed go on, and will fight to see another day. John Fryer layers the song with static and feedback, and at times it feels like you’re hearing a song from the past, which makes complete sense…a broken heart is a story as old as written history.
Track #2 – Black Needle Noise with Kendra Frost – Warning Sign
It’s an almost tender song, with lyrics that are vulnerable but aware…the protagonist of the song isn’t hiding…she has her eyes open, she’s alert. It’s a winning combination of creativity between Fryer and Frost who truly compliment each other in ways that connect with the listener.
Track #3 – Black Needle Noise with Andrea Kerr – She Stands on a Storm
As always, the highlight isn’t just on John. He worked with vocalist Andrea Kerr to set the tone for the song with a great deal of success. Her work gives the impression of innocence, but it’s an innocence that’s holding a dark secret that emerges as the chorus hits.
Track #4 – Black Needle Noise with Jennie Vee – Heaven
Jennie Vee brings a cold dreaminess to the song, and her lyrics talk about a heaven that was once held but is now out of reach. The John Fryer structure behind Heaven reinforces the melancholy of the song but helps vault it into the ether…a starry darkness that could be considered a heaven by many.
Track #5 – Black Needle Noise with Kendra Frost – This Kind of Road
John Fryer is an expert at building atmosphere, after all. But, as always, he knows how to choose who he works with…artists that compliment his work like a hand in a glove. Kendra Frost all but steals the show with her vocals on this track. Her emotive work sounds like a puzzle waiting to be solved, or (as a nod to her band Kite Base) like origami being unfolded to show the intricate work within.
Track #6 – Black Needle Noise with Omnixflux – Teeth to Grey
Omniflux’s Mahsa Zargaran really makes this song special with her vocals, especially as they hit the higher registers. It really offsets the low level, trip-hop beats with an almost ethereal light. It’s a brilliant contrast! As usual, John Fryer has created a well produced sounding board for his vocalist.
Track #7 – Black Needle Noise with Mimi Page – Swimming Through Dreams
The track features ethereal vocals by Mimi Page in a darkly beautiful song that weaves its way through the mists that form just out of reach. There’s an otherworldly feel to it that almost demands repeat listens to unlock its mysteries.
Track #8 – Black Needle Noise with Ana Breton – And Nothing Remains
Ana Breton lends her vocals to this haunted audio landscape…it could be dusk, could be early morning. I guess it’s up to your interpretation of the darkness that’s just held at bay…is it receding or is it gaining a foothold? As I mentioned before, the track definitely has a haunted feel to it, but what really pulls you in is the emotionally charged build up.
Track #9 – Black Needle Noise with Bill Leeb – A Shiver of Want
A Shiver of Want is a master work of dark majesty, with its classic, slow burn Black Needle Noise foundation. It begins with the echoing footsteps into darkness, where Bill Leeb traces his vocals, like fog in the night.
Track #10 – Black Needle Noise with Sivert Høyem – Breathless Speechless
There’s a languid, smoky darkness about Fryer’s score here that meanders about the room like a snake. Høyem builds on the score with a lyrically sound vocal track that ranks among the best in the Black Needle Noise catalog.
Track #11 – Black Needle Noise with Dr. Strangefryer – Neon Noir
Neon Noir is a slice of nostalgic heaven. It has a retro heartbeat that is the core of the song, and is easily the most upbeat and dance-worthy track on Lost in Reflections. It hearkens back to a simpler time, where neon glowed, chrome gleamed, and synths ruled the world.
And there you have it! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t biased toward each and every one of these songs. In fairness though, how could you not be? There’s a whole lot of heart, talent, and love in all of these tracks and it bleeds through. John Fryer’s Black Needle Noise project is one of the most satisfying things that I cover here at Echosynthetic and he couldn’t do it without the amazing supporting cast of artists he shares his work with. Head over to Bandcamp and give these collaborations a listen. You’re bound to find something you’ll love.