Fractal (n.): A geometric pattern that is repeated at every scale and so cannot be represented by classical geometry. Mirror Snake: 1) A psych-rock group from Oakland; 2) A reptile wrapped in tin foil. What were they thinking?: An expression uttered upon viewing the cover art of Mirror Snake's self-titled debut, which features a brown, gold, and purple fractal design framed by a border of 72 little eyes in 72 little boxes. We understand the idea behind using fractals to summon psychedelia; it's been done since the dawn of time, or at least the '60s, on posters, stickers, albums, and the like, to varying levels of success. Mirror Snake's take is downright crude -- all dull browns and pixilated details. The weird wedge of purple sky at the bottom clashes with the dirt-brown on the right and the mocha-brown on the left, while the gold light emanating from the center toward the left is choppy and distracting. I've seen trippier visuals in Windows Media Player.
The icing on this fractal cake is a tacky border of eyeballs, set side-by-side around the outside edge of the front cover. Without trying to analyze what this might represent, let me just say that it makes the CD look absurdly amateurish. While the fractal gets a C for effort, the eyeball frame gets a flat-out F. Overall, the art inspires a familiar refrain in this column: If young local bands want fans and critics to embrace their record, they'd be wise to package it in a way that befits the perceived quality of the music. Bad cover art is the equivalent of wearing sweats to a job interview, and that you gotta earn.