Comprised of The Black Angels’ Alex Maas, The Horror’s Tom Furse, Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir and The Earlies’ John Mark Lapham, MIEN are a super group in every sense of the word. Yet, history has shown this type of act doesn’t always work. Thankfully, this isn’t true for an album that transports you through the history of psychedelia.
The seeds were sown for this collaboration in 2004, when Dhir found himself in a chance encounter with Maas whilst performing sitar with his former band on a bill at SXSW in Austin, with The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Not long afterwards, he stumbled across The Earlies, who he would similarly collaborate and share a stage with. This led to essentially the genesis of MIEN. Furse then came into the picture a few years later and the line-up was complete.
The result is a record that transcends a variety of influences, from The Velvet Underground to Neu!, straight through to George Harrison and Jefferson Airplane. At its essence, it’s a love letter to the members’ record collections, whilst at the same time managing to remain modern and relevant.
‘Earth Moon’s sitar kicks things off as it transports into a dreamy rhythmic voyage and chanting vocals. The motorik banger of ‘Black Habit’ then emits a powerful energy as the bass comes to the forefront in a track that doesn’t fit as well with the rest of the album but is great nonetheless.
‘(I’m Tired of) Western Shouting’, meanwhile, is as expansive and exploratory as its title would suggest, with its invigorating groovy underbelly. The four-piece then take you on a trippy expedition for ‘You Dreamt’ before a variety of sampling and electronic glitches take hold for the droney ‘Other’ to create a doomy ambience. Proceedings are then given a more pop-infused vibe for ‘Hocus Pocus’ which finds a balance of experimental instrumentation and a rhythmic core.
Dissident keyboard sounds then layer over an eerie vocal performance for ‘Ropes’ before ‘Echolalia’ mixes electronica with a punk-esque energy. This is before the LP is closed off with a rush of digital feedback for ‘Odessey’ and the captivating slow burner ‘Earth Moon (Reprise).’
The four psychsters may have put this record together from different time zones, yet the chemistry between them manifests into a kaleidoscopic of beautiful atmospherics that borrows from all the best parts of psychedelia.