S.T. Mikael

Mind of Fire

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S.T. Mikael's reputation among Swedish bands with a bent for the psychedelic can be seen in the fact that Mind of Fire -- his first new album in a decade -- features various players from Dungen on it, among other acts. It's a nice tip of the hat from various self-proclaimed spiritual children, no question, but Mind of Fire is a bit uneven, on when it's on, pleasantly there otherwise. Those high points, though, are killer -- a good example being "Wizdom," which eschews slabs of drone or a spaced-out feeling for a full-throttled embrace of funk instead, with results that are familiar enough but which contrast against the rest of the album, and Mikael's own reputation, very nicely. In contrast is something like "Gyrax," a bit of a rambling stoner fest that coasts on atmospheres but barely lasts in the memory like it could. Elsewhere, there are simple but sharp takes on acid folk via tight grooves, thanks to "Into Your Mind," and low-key jams like "Are You Dreaming Again?," all nice but not entirely remarkable. A nice touch, however, does occur midway through the disc -- namely, Mikael himself introducing the bonus tracks in a calm but engaged way. If, as he says, the mind was designed to scream "I'm back," the bonus tracks help clarify where he's been, a collection of roughly recorded demos and spare cuts that are all enjoyable if not particularly memorable. Still, songs like the acoustic, plaintive "Did You Feel?" and the booping "Organ Prelude" are nice touches.

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