Last year’s debut from Swedish kosmische psych group Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation, Horse Dance, was a pleasant surprise, despite the fact that there’s already more than a handful of artists exploring this sound, including labelmates Les Big Byrd, Moon Duo, Minami Deutsch, Föllakzoid, Sundays & Cybele, Flavor Crystals, Eat Lights Become Lights, Camera, Papir, Electric Orange, Sungod, Fujiya & Miyagi, Peaking Lights and Cave among others. Anyone who thinks the psych scene is staid has their head far up their ass. Listen to all these bands on random in a playlist, and they sparkle and glow like neon sugary treats, representing a scintillating array of flavors and textures. Those lucky enough to be at fests like Roskilde Festival and Eindhoven Psych Lab got a sneak preview of the band, but word caught fairly quickly, as the album snuck onto a few year-end lists.
Contrary to the bright imagery from last year’s “Sunny Afternoon” or new track “Rainbow Lollipop,” Mirage operates late at night, illuminated only by blacklight. Like their predecessors on the Too Pure label in the 90s, Stereolab, Laika and Pram, Öhrn takes influences from Neu!, Cluster and Harmonia and adds some pop structures and vocals, though more hypnagogic than conventional, almost a hushed whisper like Laika’s Maragaret Fiedler. “Looking For You” stands out as a harder driving rave-up with buzzing guitars that is more in line with another Too Pure band Th’ Faith Healers. I don’t necessarily think the five piece were studying the Too Pure catalog, they could just as easily be influenced by Spacemen 3, Broadcast or Saint Etienne. All I know is the motorik grooves leaving liquidy vapor trails are endlessly listenable and addictive. I could listen to this stuff all day and night, and I have, especially with the other similar-minded artists mentioned. While everything kind of bleeds together, there’s no real weak spots here. “Rushing Through My Mind,” “Sister Green Eyes,” “In Madrid” and “Circular Motion” stood out on my last listen, but the others might float to the top in other sessions.
Enjoy but avoid operating heavy machinery or fast-moving vehicles, as it’s a little too mesmerizing and hallucinogenic to always stay completely alert with.