Taking their moniker from the notion of ‘Liberation Upon Hearing In The Between’ from the Tibetan Book Of The Dead, Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation’ took little time to make their mark on the wider world, brandishing a radiant sound that stands effortlessly apart from the increasingly staid and often paradoxically predictable world of modern psychedelia.
Having already been nominated for a Swedish Grammy with their debut EP, Diamond Waves, their full-length 2015 debut on Rocket Recordings, Horse Dance marked out a territory in which beguiling repetition could sashay with sweet pop suss, melodic flourishes with experimental intensity, and it was summarily rapturously received on arrival, making new fans like 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne and earning them appearances at Roskilde Festival and Eindhoven Psych Lab.
Yet clearly this was only the beginning of a journey of discovery ,and few would have guessed how the band’s sound would quickly evolve into still more enchanting and enlightening strains. Their second effort Mirage, which follows a mere year after its predecessor, sees the band sculpting sprawling, hypnotic jams into elegant nocturnal serenades with such serendipity that their actual creation remains a little hazy even to themselves. “We agree on not remembering very much about how these tracks came about, that all of them were written on the road and that most of them came fully formed” note the band. “Most were really long to begin with, but we found it relieving to break away a bit from the mandatory psych jams a little bit. We also just realised that none of them were written in daylight, which might be why memory is so elusive.”
Indeed, this hypnagogic approach seems to fit well with the primary inspiration for the five-piece, which centred on ‘the state where dreams, visions and the present are entwined’ – the domain of surrealists and mystics, not to mention cinematic epiphanies such as Morgiana, Daisies and Tarkovsky’s Solaris. True to form, Mirage see the band taking a chic tradition of avant-pop that extends all the way from Serge Gainsbourg and Françoise Hardy to Broadcast and Saint Etienne, and warping it mercilessly to their own darker ends. Whilst the brooding yet sultry ‘Sister Green Eyes’ is no less than a sharp slice of velveteen motorik-pop and ‘Looking For You’ reinvents three-chord garage-rock attack with mighty finesse, The Liberation are just as comfortable dealing out the heavy-lidded and electronically-driven ‘In Madrid’ or the dive in the hallucinatory deep end of ‘Circular Motion’, on which they’re aided and abetted by Lay Llamas’ Nicola Guinta.
Fresh excitement for the band lies in wait, courtesy of a UK tour with Goat and an appearance at Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia, yet amidst the psychic forces responsible for this kaleidoscopic effort who can say what will follow. “Horse Dance was very much about conjuring the strength needed to cut ties” the band elucidate. “Mirage may be about having left but having no clue what’s next – the power in being completely lost and thriving on it” Yet the seductive splendour of these ten songs make manifest a parallel world of disorientation and deliverance in which one would be a fool not to want to languish adrift.