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In an era in which ‘psychedelia’ can often mean merely a grab-bag of influences from which wah-wah pedals and two-note riffs are dispensed as signifiers and signposts into a realm of easy accessibility as opposed to gateways to another dimension, it can be a rarity to come across a band who are genuinely fixated on creating alternate realities for the listener. Yet this is exactly how Stockholm’s Joseﬁn Öhrn + The Liberation view their incandescent art, and it’s this sensibility that’s led to the kaleidoscopic splendour of their two albums for Rocket Recordings, ‘Horse Dance’ (2015) and ‘Mirage’ (2016).
The band has seen a dramatic rise to prominence since the release of their debut EP ‘Diamond Waves in 2014’ leading to shows in their homeland with Goat and Les Big Byrd, a nomination for a Swedish Grammy as best newcomer, and rapturously received appearances at festivals like Roskilde.
These adventures set the stage for a spectacular movement into the unknown from their earlier work once signing to Rocket Recordings. Their two LPs razorsharp collection of songs that marry dreamlike radiance with hypnotic rhythmic drive, set alight by a prismatic experimental glow. It inhabits a realm in which a propulsive ‘60s-tinged pop song can be elevated skyward with krautrock-tinged repetition, dub echo and analogue curlicues alike, and one in which a Broadcast-style mantra can tap into a psychic lineage that stretches all the way from The United States Of America and Serge Gainsbourg to Portishead’s ‘Third’. Yet whilst ghosts of the like of Laika, Velvet Underground and The Creatures may lurk in the darker recesses of their songs, this is a band paying no homage to bygone glories.
The Liberation cite a myriad influences in both their philosophical stance and their aesthetic, from 12th century iconoclasts like Milarepa to 20th century sonic voyagers like Catherine Ribeiro, and from Kandinsky’s abstract expressions of synaesthesia to the avant-jazz of Moondog. Yet at all times their transcendental extrapolations are married to icy and enticing melodic flourishes, making for a revitalising clash between the chic and the transcendental, and a sound as biting as it is beatific.
The release of their 2nd album ‘Mirage’ was jubilantly received across UK Radio’s BBC6 Music, climaxing in a Lauren Laverne BBC6 Live session and a full European tour with fellow Swedes ‘Goat’ The band will be hitting more European stages for a headline tour in March 2017.
Thursday 2nd March 2017
Price: £7.50 advance (+stbf)