One version of the Surrealist Manifesto reads something like this: “Surrealism is pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.” This sounds to me like something that music would be well-suited to achieve in general, and the Finnish astral magicians, KAIRON; IRSE!, are just the right bunch to evoke a particularly surreal response. I’d like to stress that by “surreal” I do not mean the type of underground rock that’s predominantly weird, but rather something unusual and fascinating, mind-bending even. I’m talking about psychedelic music that worms its way into your head and pushes you off this plane of reality – pure stream of consciousness stuff, that is. KAIRON; IRSE! was formed in 2009 by four inner-space travelers and in 2014, their album “Ujubasajuba” set Bandcamp on fire. Now the band is in the roster of Svart Records and they will be releasing a new selection of sonic incantations entitled ”Polysomn” on 11 September 2020.
This new album marks an exciting departure from the gritty and krautrockish psychedelia of the band’s previous albums into the lysergic pop realms of bands such as TAME IMPALA and MEW – with a unique twist, of course. The psych-pop of KAIRON; IRSE! sounds like a multicolored fever dream buzzing through your cerebral cortex. The band’s sonic palette consists of a meticulously crafted mixture of atmospheric pop, shoegaze, and all the past influences, ranging from krautrock to 1990s alternative, reshaped into a treasure-trove of psychedelic enlightenment. “Polysomn” is not necessarily music to take drugs to, simply because it’s pure dope in itself.
Two songs were released ahead of the album as teasers. The first single release, “An Bat None,” launches into a sparkling and hypnotic dreamworld of sound that is simultaneously reminiscent of the surreal dream-pop of MEW and the drowsy, spacious shoegaze of SLOWDIVE, with sonic bursts of fuzzy guitars à la MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Only by a great effort of will, you might be able to hold back from being overwhelmed by the sonic wall of ethereal bliss or “autuuden äänivalli” as the band calls it. Like an illusionist performing a sleight of hand, the song fixes you in a state of a sonic dust storm as if with a mesmeric eye.
The second single off the album, “Welcome Blue Valkyrie,” dives even deeper into sonic reveries of the trippy kind. In this song, the manic rhythms give way to the ebb and flow of ethereal guitars that lull you into the neverland of lucid dreams with ease, like a hipster version of early PINK FLOYD. So, here I am, only two songs into the album and my mind is already switching off into a free-falling mode that feels like an intense hypnagogic jerk in zero gravity. Maybe it shouldn’t have come as surprise since the band has gained widespread critical acclaim and a multitude of wide-eyed devotees because of this particular trait. These first two singles pretty much set the framework for the album – the outer limits being frantic krautrock rhythms at one end and the dreamy free-floating at the other. The rest of the songs land somewhere in between, forming an exciting sonic landscape or a dynamic backdrop for your mind to drift to a whole new dimension. The otherworldly sonic features range from the RADIOHEAD vibes of the opening track, “Psionic Static,” to the krautrock of “Hypnogram,” and from the lysergic bursts of distorted guitars and space-synths of the title track to the psychedelic indie-pop of “Retrograde,” which is somewhat reminiscent of the 1990s space-rock band SPIRITUALIZED.
“Polysomn” is an audio trip that has the potential to make your everyday reality shrink into insignificance for the whole 50-minute duration of the album. Thus, it probably wouldn’t work well as background music to take the edge off the mundane everyday buzz of life. It is way too immersive for that. Sure, it might take off the edge, but it would probably swallow you whole while at it. This is music that bypasses the conscious mind as if the recipe for it came straight out of the surrealist’s playbook. Where dream and day unite – that’s where the magic lies. The sparkling beauty of ”Polysomn” derives from the liminal zone between waking and dreaming life, the place where the human language erodes and music remains the only way to communicate. KAIRON; IRSE! Is a genuinely rare bird, a propulsive bunch of astral magicians whose music speaks directly to the subconscious. Their sophomore album, “Ruination” (2017), established the band in the canon of Finnish genre-bending oddballs, whereas this new sonic offering marks a vertical take-off into the interstellar realms where not many have gone before – at least not with the execution of the songs being of this caliber. “Polysomn” is a brilliant album filled with haunting scenes of pop surrealism and lysergic rock emanations that feel like an acid-laced daydream. It’s a music album that shades naturally into the surreal like a good trip – and there is no rush like it on earth.
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- Psionic Static
- Welcome Blue Valkyrie
- An Bat None
- Mir Inoi
- Altair Descends
- White Flies
Dmitry Melet – Vocals, Bass
Niko Lehdontie – Guitar
Lasse Luhta – Guitar, Bass, Synths
Johannes Kohal – Drums
Interview Phantom Elite – “It’s always good to share that feeling that none of us is alone in hard times”