Mildlife ‘Phase’

With six tracks making up the forty minute record, it's perhaps the quickest way to experience an empyrean excursion
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What better way to escape the mundanity of earthly life than by surpassing the atmosphere and indulging in all things extraterrestrial? Australian band Mildlife do exactly that in their debut album ‘Phase’, incorporating elements of jazz, ambient and psychedelia into a celestial soundscape. With six tracks making up the forty minute record, it’s perhaps the quickest way to experience an empyrean excursion.

Interstellar frequencies seem to permeate every crevice of ‘Phase’. This becomes apparent from the off, as the album kicks off with its only single, ‘The Magnificent Moon’. Dainty lunar sinews gradually yield to encompass an entire galaxy of sonic nuance. As hypnotic textures incrementally distance themselves from any notion of terrestrial composition, funky bass grooves and languid vocals provide a comforting anchor. Shattering spatial boundaries and preconceptions in its galactic orbit, the trippy album opener perfectly captures the sheer vastness of the vantage point that the rest of its soundscapes will occupy.

The band often distances their music from any conventional notion of song form, indulging in textural components more comparable to ambient. Vocals similarly play a strong role in creating a mood, alien and inaccessible on ‘Two Horizons’ while androgynous on ‘Zwango Zop’. One constant throughout the album is its groovy basslines, providing a dance element to compliment its trippy jazz flavours. Jazzy chords on ‘Zwango Zop’ once again provide some ballast to the almost artificial freneticism of cosmic lead lines, their computerized textures akin to a game of psychedelic Space Invaders. Sonic hyperreality drenched in arcade-like nostalgia really does make for comprehensive listening.

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The pull between rhythmic and melodic lines runs throughout the album, its liminal aesthetic existing within this very tension. This is most obvious on ‘I’m Blau’, where a grainy shuffle and alluring bassline provide a psychedelic groove, while vocal distortion again indulges in the extraterrestrial. Wind instrumentation is deliberately unconvincing and perturbed, while further esoteric sound-bites firmly establish the liminality of the soundscape. Psychedelic comatose and overindulgent paranoia synthesize in hectic harmony.

In title track ‘Phase’, pinched guitar lines and cosmic sinews measuredly culminate in kaleidoscopic flavours, melt in the mouth melodies and stoner soundscapes, transmitted down from Mildlife‘s universal expedition. Rickety rhythms on ‘The Gloves Don’t Bite’ develop into an airy shimmer, while melodic modulated guitar lines lay down a dance groove. Drifting freely in a prismatic haze, the final track best highlights the band’s jazz sensibilities, the lofty textures and rhythmic stability providing the perfect back drop for them to show off their improvisational guile.

For years, films and literature have imagined the potential consequences of extra-terrestrial interaction, often depicting chaos, colonization and destruction. ‘Phase’, however, shuns any notion of apocalypse, showcasing the inspirational and creative potential of the otherworldly. Perhaps aliens are a lot closer to home than we think.

‘Phase’ is out now via Research Records

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