MIEN is, for lack of a better word, a supergroup. Though perhaps it’s just four consecutive side projects, who can tell? The term is pompus at best and often overshadows the music of any who dare don the mantle. For what it’s worth, MIEN compiles the talents of members of The Black Angels, The Horrors, The Earlies and Elephant Stone. To most its going to be those first two that draw water and grab attention but, I for one, am excited to hear The Earlies mentioned in earnest in 2018. The band’s John-Mark Lapham would bond with Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir over a love of sitar in pop music, as would Dhir and The Black Angels’ Alex Maas. So, it winds up that the sitar is the glue that holds together MIEN’s eponymous debut.
Dhir also played the instrument with The Brian Jonestown Massacre for several years, so he’s done his time in the psychedelic trenches. His drones here swirl around the band’s embrace of a hypnotic pop that recalls the dark grind of The Black Angels as shot through the junkyard Krautrock of Clinic or current contemporaries like Snapped Ankles. They work off of chugging rhythms one minute and then lay back completely into the abyss with reverberating thrum the next – meting out blissful altered states of droned consciousness. The album isn’t flashy, despite boasting such talent and a flagpole raised on ‘60s sitar. MIEN takes a little while to wrap around the listener, boasting the kind of exhaust fume ambience that’s permeated much of The Angels’ work.
It’s easy to draw comparisons with Maas at the vocal helm, but the band distinguishes itself from most of the members’ other tributaries, swapping in mantra for hooks and embracing a repetition dropout that winds up engrossing in its own way. The moody atmospheres are no surprise to those who are working their psych band bingo on this project, but the band’s not one to miss out on levity, pushing for “Tomorrow Never Knows” cartoon squiggle territory on back half bubble “Odessey” to lighten the mood. If this album winds up a one-off, then it remains a curio worth investigating and if this is the seeds of something more permanent, I’ll mark this as some good roots to grow.
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