Release Date: Jan 20, 2009
Record label: Social Registry
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
On Mirror Eye, Psychic Ills go deeper into the drones that made Dins such a breakthrough for the band, making those elongated spaces the heart of the music rather than a setting for it. Significant portions of the album were improvised in the studio, and this might explain why the playing and ebb and flow from song to song feel as organic as they do. Mirror Eye is also remarkably understated, trading most of Psychic Ills' suffocating rock for less obvious ways of exploring their tribal, trippy leanings.
Psychic Ills, a group of four New Yorkers who operate in a hazy middle ground somewhere in-between Spacemen 3 and Om, understand that it’s as much about what you don’t play as what you do. Their discography may be sparse, but Mirror Eye, released on the always-intriguing Social Registry label, is the finest embodiment of their drone-adelic sound to date.The band members freely admit that much of their music is improvised, but we’re far removed from jam-band territory when opening track “Mantis” begins. Much of Psychic Ills’ music relies on repetition, building up from a simple looping riff and taking on many different forms and shapes as each song progresses.
Ambience can be a tough thing to pull off effectively with music. Go too far to one extreme and your music becomes a directionless bore that can be appreciated almost exclusively by folks under the influence of mind-altering substances. Go too far to the other side and your music ceases to be ambient, instead sliding its way towards dance music, techno, or even jam-oriented rock.
Psychic Ills slips a bit further from songcraft, a bit deeper into shadowy ethno-drones in this, their second proper full-length, splicing the tribal sounds of caravan percussion to space-age guitar effects and synthesizer sounds. Though usually compared to interstellar overdrivers like Spaceman 3, here the band sounds more like NNCK, improvisatory, foreboding and tethered loosely to Middle Eastern and African rhythms. Nearly everyone from 2006’s Dins has returned – old hands Tres Warren and Liz Hart and later recruit Brian Tamborello – but there’s a new element with the addition of Jimy SeiTang.