Artist: Psychic Ills
Album: Hazed Dream
Label: Sacred Bones
Experimental rock band Psychic Ills is currently made up of three members; Elizabeth Hart on bass, Brian Tamborello on drums and Tres Warren on guitar, vocals and synthesizer. Hazed Dream follows their 2009 release Mirror Eyes and it’s companion EP Catoptric, put out late June 2010. Mirror Eyes was slated by critics for it’s lack of direction, it was incoherent and unfinished sounding and to top it off, it’s opener was a drone piece long enough to scare away any potential new fans (11 minutes long). Catoptric was received more positively however, the four track EP has a purposeful sound and more direction.
So after some mixed reactions, it seems the latest release will be under some tough scrutiny. The eleven track album was recorded live by Mitch Rackin (Gang Gang Dance, Black Dice) at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge. It opens with “Midnight Moon”, a promising track filled with interesting percussion sounds and hazy guitar riffs. The rumbling vocals from Tres Warren are a nice touch, but as the album continues they start to sound a bit same-y, with none of the lyrics really standing out. “Mind Daze” begins with a driving melody which is soon lost to the monotone synth and bass lines that take over. It sounds like the release is heading in the same direction as Mirror Eyes.
The third track, “Incense Head” uses percussion and hazy guitar in such a way that captures the feelings of a hot summer day. The sound is reminiscent of sunny days when the heat rising can be seen rippling against the road ahead, and all you want to do is get out of the heat and sip on a cool drink. Other songs like “Mexican Wedding” and “Sundaze” evoke a similar feeling; the “sunburned” sound begins to feel uncomfortable after a while, like you’ve actually been out in the sun too long. And like the dopey sun-head we are reminded of, the music also doesn’t really go anywhere.
The highlight of the album is “Same Old Song” which uses percussions more heavily again whilst organ drones over the top. This song could be truly effective without the vocals which seem to hold back from a really hypnotic soundscape. Unfortunately, the album as a whole just doesn’t grab hold. The laid back vibe is great, but the songs aren’t different enough from anything done before in the psychedelic-rock circle to justify high praise. Each song mingles into the next to form one long chilled out psych session, and I was expecting a little more from the Ills this time round.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.