Melbourne-based four-piece band Mildlife enter the scene with their debut album Phase, that mines diverse influences such as jazz, disco and psychedelia to create a gloriously hazy and intoxicating dream pop record.
I’d guess that Phase is not a title simply plucked from the air. It describes the LP down to a tee. Each track has its own identity, but yet they blend together seamlessly as one. It is a series of creations in which you immerse yourself, to be borne along gently in an airy cosmic trance.
This is how it feels anyway, which is the first thing; the second is how it sounds. There is no doubt that Mildlife are a band that desire to push musical boundaries. Having developed their sound through a series of tight live shows and wild improvisation, they now appear completely in command of a set of vintage resources to fashion material that is familiar yet fresh.
The very first few seconds of the opening song and debut The Magnificent Moon will tell you everything you need to know about the album. Eerie hypnotic keyboards and groovy jams build up to create a new age interstellar soundscape, while a wash of echoed verses crest like a hazy sunrise over the rhythmic melody. It is a nine minute melting pot of cosmic electronics, progressive ‘70s rock and soulful instrumentation.
While The Magnificent Moon is certainly the most memorable and catchy of the bunch, the rest of its counterparts stretch out to all corners of psychedelia. There are calmer, balmier numbers such as the title track Phase, which pursues a more languid pace, harking back to laid back ‘70s jazz fusion, and then there is funky disco rock, such as The Gloves Don’t Bite, which blends ambient gliding tones, squelching synths and shuffling drum beats to deploy an infectious rhythmic melody.
Even at the loudest parts of the record, the music still has a languorous and contemplative quality. The vocals seem to weave throughout the offerings, all phase and effects, like you expect from a guitar or a keyboard, making them seem trance inducing and spellbinding. Phase is the perfect collection to put on when you need to shut out all the noise and stress of the rest of the world and get lost in the depths of its psychedelic arrangements. And like most phases, it is hard to predict where Mildlife will go next – but if it is anything like this debut, at least we know it won’t be boring.
Words by Dean Robinson