An Oslo Mind-shtup
On their official website, Alpine Those Myriads! describe their music as “kaleidoscopic music for the open-minded.” When listening to their new offering, Psyche, one can’t help but acknowledge the band has quite a handle on their musical identity. Perhaps the only thing that merited mention was the band’s inherent sense of humor. With Gypus Chelofan on synth and vocals, Addo Tesla on bass and The Marble King on guitar (see what I mean?), the band dispenses with strange little ditties that at times might be mistaken for the prog-spectacled early metal of the 1970s, at other times the weird-for-weirdness’-sake milieu of The Residents, and at still other times the acoustic folk of the Tolkien-type. And although it has all the trappings of “niche” music, it is delivered with so much fun and kitsch that it makes for a generally enjoyable listening experience.
However, in a sense, the music is better enjoyed for its connotations than for the music itself, meaning there are some nice melodies sprinkled throughout, but they aren’t really the focal point of any of their respective songs. The enjoyment of the music comes much more from the sense of pastiche at play here. Take the successive tracks, “Headwounds” and “Dingy Beat,” for example. The former keys into the album’s title from its onset, with manically dueling piano parts that swirl around each other. However the song itself feels like a bombastic, if genuinely lamenting ballad. Throw in a couple of comically spliced-in “door opening” sound effects and you’re left feeling unsure of what you just listened to.
“Dingy Beat” for its part, flowers from an organ riff at its center that sounds suspiciously like the soundtrack for every single NES game’s dungeon level in existence. Once the disquieting a cappella moments that recall Scott Walker’s Bish Bosch appear, you almost forget the initial little organ riff the song was built on.
Basically, the power of Psyche lies not so much in the technical aspects of each track’s composition or tunefulness, but in the eccletic mashing together of strange, if intriguing themes and sounds. Some songs feign a bit more cohesion, such as the eight-minute “Gabrien Chronic & The Malady Bees,” but even it is injected with a little strangeness—in this case, the momentary musical freakout towards the middle of the song which features what sounds like ripping flesh—to boot.
This strategy is not so much to a fault, however, as it is more so just a unique way of going about things. And to be honest, without these little eccentricities, the band might come off as a less ironic Spinal Tap. Thankfully, we just have a pleasantly absurd pastiche of musics we might not have heard, except in our daydreams and nightmares. And judging by the title of Psyche, a state of intellectual confusion is precisely the place these comic weirdos were hoping to leave their listener.