Monday, February 09, 2009


Genre defying Psychic Ills capture high energy and aeroplane sounds with their impalpable brand of music.
Text by David Hellqvist | Published 09 February 2009

No doubt New York is the epicenter of coolness these days, with dozens of bands constantly emerging. They rock out in sweaty basements one day, the next they’re on NME’s cover. Luckily, this is not the chosen career path for all Big Apple bands. Psychic Ills, for example, name songs Fingernail Tea and label their music a “perspective reflection” of a “parallel reality”. That will not get them on Top of the Tops, but it sure makes for an interesting alternative to sing-a-long anthems and stadium rock.

New album Mirror Eye is the eight-track follow up to 2006’s Dins. Elizabeth Hart, Brian Tamborello, Jimy SeiTang and Tres Warren met up in late 2003 and started formulating their sonic experiment. The result is a wall of sound weaved together by distorted synthesizers, which are allowed free rein. It’s one of those albums you can’t categorize, probably the wished-for effect. On MySpace, where they have to label their music, it says Visual/Trance. And questioned about how they would describe themselves to a Psychic Ills novice, they deliberately struggle. “I don't know if I would, I’ve never been successful in my attempts”, Tres Warren says and Jimy SeiTang agrees: “Yeah, that’s a hard one”.

But know this: the band are skilled and attuned musicians after jamming together for years. “I’ve known Tres for ages and when he gave me a guitar a while back, we just started playing”, Elizabeth remembers. The others were friends of friends who joined along the way. “My dad and brother are musicians as well, so music was always around me”, says Brian while Jimy had been playing the piano since he was seven years old. Here’s what Psychic Ills had to say about their influences, airplanes and lack of vocals.

Dazed Digital: A few songs on Mirror Eye feature oriental sounds - do you have Asian influences?
TW: I don't think I would put it in those terms but we're into world music.
JST: Not just oriental culture, but yeah, world culture definitely.

DD: Why do you find world music in general so inspiring?
EH: The discovery of different world music is endless. I can get blown away by random African or Indian records, it’s the energy in those recordings that captivates me the most. They sound like they were recorded with such vigor and passion, sometimes even an urgency and always with integrity.

DD: Sometimes on the album it sounds like you’ve recorded machines from our everyday life.
TW: No, it’s all synthesizers.
JST: I think sometimes we make sounds that have a familiar aspect from our daily lives that everyone can relate to, but it has a unique personal perspective that makes it our own.
EH: I have heard Sub Synth compared to the sounds aircraft make. It was just something I had programmed on my MicroKorg, and then manipulated the pitch while playing it. I wasn’t necessarily going for the sound of machinery, but I can see the similitude I suppose. Would be cool, actually, to record machines in action.

DD: You improvise a lot so how different are the live shows compared to the album?
EH: I’d say about half the set is improvised, because the visual element and movement are integral parts of playing live and there has to be room to “see what happens” if you will.
BT: Most of our material has certain elements that are set, and other elements that are free to slide around and transform.

DD: Why don't you use vocals more in your songs?
TW: I’m wondering why we don't use synths more.
JST: Me too…

Mirror Eye is out today, more info at

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