MIEN’s seeds were planted as far back as 2004 when The Black Angels vocalist Alex Maas and Elephant Stone sitarist Rishi Dhir shared a bill at SXSW. Their mutually complementary musical output was an obvious shoe-in for a collaboration, but it wasn’t until they attempted to cover an obscure ‘60s sitar-pop “banger” with The Earlies’ electronics whizz John-Mark Lapham years later that MIEN really started to build its foundation. With The Horrors’ synth guru Tom Furse joining the cause sometime later, the conception of this psychedelic supergroup was complete; and their knack for propulsive grooves and soft, synthesised dreamscapes is realised fully on this impressive debut.
Alex envisions the band as “Nico in her 80’s industrial phase mixed with George Harrison and Conny Plank”, and at the heart ‘MIEN’ is the stellar fusion of tangible world instruments and understated electronic programming. Zen opener ‘Earth Moon’ is a cornucopia of tribal drums, sitars and flutes, offering a flowery alternative to some of the record’s darker, more electronic pieces. It’s the perfect mirror to closing track ‘Earth Moon (Reprise)’, which swaps out much of the exotic instrumentation for finger-picked nylon guitars, a subdued trip-hop beat and fluttering, tremolated synth chords.
‘Black Habit’ plays a clever trick by recycling the memorable bass line to The Horrors’ two-minute post-punk schism ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ into a rumbling, synthesised sidewinder reminiscent of Neu or Wooden Shjips.
Enduringly addictive and devoid of arty pretentiousness, ‘MIEN’ is evidently an album made by true connoisseurs of psychedelic music both old and new. Like-minded audiophiles will find plenty to cheer about across these ten tracks.