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Josefin Ohrn & The Liberation - The Haunt - 5th March 2017

Josefin Ohrn & The Liberation - The Haunt - 5th March 2017

It’s been a breakthrough year for Swedish psychedelic pop artist Josefin Ohrn and The Liberation. Her second release, the 2016 album Mirage, garnered plenty of media attention and led to airplay on radio stations across the UK, including in Brighton, where her re-edited single ‘Sister Green Eyestook the Brightonsfinest track of the week on Juice FM. Although already well-known in her home country as a Swedish Grammi-nominated artist, the extensive UK tour that followed has cemented her presence in the British shoegaze and stoner-rock scene. One of the final dates of this tour found her addressing a sold-out Haunt on Sunday.

As the sonic explorations begin with insistent basslines and roaming keys, it’s easy to see why Josefin, who has taken up a power-pose at the front of her band, is positioned front-and-centre. At this gig, as with her music in general, it’s clear she has a creative vision that pulls the band forward. For this tour, she’s enlisted visual artist Innerstrings to project hallucinatory fever-dreams onto the stage and all the band. Speaking to her before the gig, she explains that for her, vision and sound all form one live experience - and it’s a rich and intense landscape that blends perfectly with the psychedelic elements of her music.

The band churns out industrial and emphatic noise, laid over with ethereal and wandering melodies. Their sound is unrelenting and, above all, loud. Seamless transitions mean that from the moment they start playing to when they leave the stage, a wave of pure and sweeping volume washes over the crowd. The effect is hypnotic and seductive, meaning if you weren’t sold at the start of the gig, you would be dragged along before too long.

Josefin herself is a compelling figure at the front of the stage. Physically confident but understated, she doesn’t move much beyond a trance-like swaying. Despite this she has managed to cultivate an aura that makes her visually captivating, and results in a real command of the stage. As the bass thuds beneath her, and the keys, running through an elaborate pedal board, echo through the stratosphere, she whispers, more than sings, into the mic: she’s like a story-teller, who hushes down to force her audience to lean in close. Though this was her default style, it lent greater impact to the climaxes where she would explode out, backed by her fierce drummer.

They played for just 45 minutes, but it felt like plenty to satiate the crowd, who walked away happily, ears ringing, with the kaleidoscopic image of the Swedish sensation burned into their eyes. With rumours of the band moving to London to write and record the next album at the end of this tour, we can look forward to more regular dates from a band whose gigs are less ‘show’, more ‘experience’.
Ben Noble


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