Album Review+Interview: Imperative Reaction - Mirror

It's been ten years since Imperative Reactions' album opened up with the now instantly recognisable track 'Side effect' which I'm sure we have all danced out one hell of a rhythm to more than once on a club dance floor, not to mention how many times we must have danced to 2008's 'Minus All'.

That self titled album was released in the golden hour of industrial where almost every album had at least one dance floor filler that set myself and other fellow cyber-goths off twirling about to the beat. So many bands have left that golden formula in the past and I can't seem to understand why as it was the base of industrial becoming far more prevalent and successful.

I hate to say it but Imperative Reaction seem to have left that style behind as well. That's not a negative reflection upon this new album however, in fact, it's a product of it's time with lower BPM, more complex layering, smoother vocals, and a sprinkle of synthwave with dystopia; Which we have to admit, is the signature sound of this particular time when it comes to Goth electronics.

In this article we write an in depth review of the new album and had the chance to ask Ted Phelps some questions of our own.

Following a near decade long hiatus, the Los Angeles based electro-industrial act Imperative Reaction finally release their long-awaited seventh album. Featuring eleven new songs, ‘Mirror’ was released on 15th January 2021 via Metropolis Records. Band co-founder and sole studio member Ted Phelps states that..

“I’ve never been as happy with an album as I am with this one, and I do think it is the most diverse album we’ve released.”

Imperative Reaction was formed in 1996 by Phelps and David Andrecht from the remains of Digital Neural Assault. Their debut album, 'Eulogy For The Sick Child’, was released in 1999 by Zoth Ommog Records, following which they signed to Metropolis, who issued Ruined’ in 2002, ‘Redemption’ (2004), ‘As We Fall’ (2006), ‘Minus All’ (2008), and a self-titled album in 2011.

Then, silence. In 2016, the band confirmed on their social media channels that another album was being recorded, but it has taken five more years to see it released. The good news? It’s worth it, with ‘Mirror’ setting a new standard for Imperative Reaction’s blend of emotionally intimate yet anthemic electro-EBM.


Q. What is the story and message behind 'Mirror’ and how does the amazing artwork tie in to those concepts?

TP: My good friend and former-IR keyboardist, Clint Carney developed the concept for the cover. Clint has been working in visual effects for years now and he’s extremely good at it. When it was time to start thinking about the cover art, I had a couple of conversations with him about what the art should look like. I actually hired my wife who helped develop some great ideas.

I knew I liked the idea of an “infinite reflection” type image but Clint is the one who took those ideas and came up with presenting it as an infinity mirror room. He proceeded to create a virtual room in a 3D space. He created the “man” with the match in his hand staring at his reflection.

I really liked the idea of having many exact reflections with only one catching on fire. After the image was finished, it went to our graphic designer, Sam Pffankuche. He added some treatments and really drove the whole thing home and now we have my favorite cover to date.

Each time I look at the cover I seem to see different ways it relates to the album theme. Presently the art shows a person who is forced to see himself as he is with no escape. The reflection in the background is starting to burn as a result.

Q. Since the last release in 2011, has there been a change in the message and themes of your music?

TP: I’d say more has been added to the message. While both albums are relatively personal, Mirror is much more so as it is based on my relationship with my wife. It chronicles a two year separation which was very hard at the time. We’ve been together for the better part of 28 years (met in high school) and we have a very intense bond. I’m not really into New Age all that much but we definitely fit the description of twin flames. Beyond that, Mirror looks at getting older and looking at life from a different perspective.

Q. Tel