The Psychic Ills Mirror Eye

[The Social Registry; 2009]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: psych, drone, trance, rock, improv, ambient
Others: Oneida, Plastic Crimewave Sound, Arco Flute Foundation, Primal Scream

The music of The Psychic Ills deftly illustrates the beauty of the mundane. Mirror Eye serves as a reminder that one can actually lose oneself in the patterns of a tie-dyed shirt or wear a hooded cloak and dreamily wave their hands through incense smoke — it's a reminder that mirrored glasses glint novel striations of color at you, that the blues can just as easily be a “Blue Condition.” Mirror Eye is a blank canvas. A lava lamp. A sickly, stale-smelling sitting room built off a secret extension of a Spencer’s Gifts. It puts one in mind of the danger inherent in pop culture — one of inadvertently buying into meaningless shit.

The Ills seem comfortable with an air of synthetic dread — that electric Count Dracula Xmas tree ornament from Nadja makes a spooktacular appearance on “The Way Of” — where one understands the limitations of psych-kitsch abandon, but treads lively in that kiddie pool. Three songs into it (“Sub Synth”), the record thoroughly vacuums up our brain crumbs to usher in some of the more ambient, Tangerine Dream-oriented material. “I Take You as My Wife Again,” easily the highlight of Mirror Eye, is like THX-1138 leading into incidental music from some soft-warble space station hospital drama starring a murky Bruce Dern. It’s a trifle, as is everything on here, but it’s a lovingly sculpted one nonetheless. The best way to appreciate this record is by not listening too closely. It’s background music for potheads, ex-heads, and psych-heads. There’re no hooks, and the songs don’t grow all that much, but they're pristine and locked-in. It’s assembly-line trance rock.

However, it’s really not much different from what Air or M83 have done for their respective genres: distilling music, knee-jerk trappings and all, to its most innocent and cloying form, and leave it all alone. Is it essential? Maybe not. But Mirror Eye is just as solid in its own pop culture reductionism as Moon Safari or Before The Dawn Heals Us. It’s just that the hooks here are more textural than musical. This is the best zoner, Glow Bones-twirling music I’ve heard since the last Religious Knives record. It may be rooted in mediocrity, but this only leaves more room to get cozy.

1. Mantis
2. Meta
3. Sub Synth
4. I Take You As My Wife Again
5. Fingernail Tea
6. The Way Of
7. Go to the Radio

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