Psychic Ills

Mirror Eye

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AllMusic Review by

On Mirror Eye, Psychic Ills go deeper into the drones that made Dins such a breakthrough for the band, making those elongated spaces the heart of the music rather than a setting for it. Significant portions of the album were improvised in the studio, and this might explain why the playing and ebb and flow from song to song feel as organic as they do. Mirror Eye is also remarkably understated, trading most of Psychic Ills' suffocating rock for less obvious ways of exploring their tribal, trippy leanings. That's not to say that the album doesn't have any bold moves -- in fact, it opens with one of the band's longest tracks yet, the ten-minutes-and-change "Mantis," which sheds and adds layers of hand drums, sitar-like guitars, phased whispers, and chittering, insectoid electronics. Yet, for all its length and intensity, it never feels oppressive or boring. Mirror Eye's other epics are similarly massive yet open: "I Take You as My Wife Again" drifts from dead-calm passages to buzzing swarms of synths and guitar, all the while showcasing Psychic Ills' strikingly expressive electronics -- sometimes they mimic acoustic instruments, other times they revel in harsh, unapologetically synthetic tones. Elizabeth Hart's bass is also a key ingredient in Mirror Eye's hypnotic pull, whether she's playing a slowly stirring line on "Eyes Closed" or a busier rhythm on the sinuously catchy "Fingernail Tea." This song and "Meta" have just enough structure to feel like a pop song compared to the album's other excursions, and come the closest to Dins' alchemy of epic rock, Eastern drones and electronic atmospheres. That magic might be missed a little on Mirror Eye, but its fever dream-like intensity is more than compelling in its own right, and feels as subtle and natural as a shadow or a reflection.

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