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Horse Dance


In an era in which "psychedelia" can often mean merely a grab-bag of influences from which wah-wah pedals and two-note riffs are dispensed as signifiers and signposts into a realm of easy accessibility, as opposed to gateways to another dimension, it can be a rarity to come across a band that's genuinely fixated on creating alternate realities for the listener. Yet this is exactly how Stockholm's Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation view their incandescent art, and it's this sensibility that's led to the kaleidoscopic splendor of their debut full-length, Horse Dance. "It's a continuum that flows beyond here and now, and psychedelic music seems to be a really powerful way to unveil those deeper oceans of being that are our true home," reflects Öhrn, who forms the core of the band with Fredrik Joelson. Horse Dance is a razor-sharp collection of ditties that marry dreamlike radiance with hypnotic rhythmic drive, set alight by a prismatic experimental glow. It inhabits a realm in which a propulsive '60s-tinged pop song like "Sunny Afternoon" can be elevated skyward with krautrock-tinged repetition, dub echo, and analog curlicues alike, and one in which a Broadcast-style mantra like "You Have Arrived" can tap into a psychic lineage that stretches all the way from The United States of America to Portishead's Third. Yet while ghosts of bands like Laika, Cat's Eyes, and The Creatures may lurk in the darker recesses of these songs, this is a band paying no homage to bygone glories. The Liberation cite a myriad of influences in both their philosophical stance and their aesthetic, from 12th-century iconoclasts like Milarepa to 20th-century sonic voyagers like Catherine Ribeiro, and from Kandinsky's abstract expressions of synesthesia to the avant-jazz of Moondog. Yet at all times their transcendental extrapolations are married to icy and enticing melodic flourishes, making for a revitalizing clash between the chic and the transcendental, and a sound as biting as it is beatific. "I definitely think that the human need for altered states -- to see oneself from a bigger perspective -- is a deep fundamental need," Öhrn elaborates. "We've been deprived of access to our full nature by a restrictive system where altered states may be the ultimate taboo." With Horse Dance, Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation step into a world where all such restrictions and taboos are null and void, and this journey is already proving quite the spectacle to behold.