The Finnish music underground is almost overstuffed with talent in the metal scene, but what about other music genres? Of course there are always new popstars coming and going, but the stoner and psychedelia scene here has some lesser-known true gems, such as the psychedelic stonery sounds of ASTRAL BAZAAR to the grungey droning of RÜCKWATER. Today, however, we zoom in on the psychedelic psytrance soundscapes of MODERN DAY ALIEN, who released “Shipments” independently on February 20th, 2020.
Can we take a moment to appreciate the album art here? I wish there had been a better-quality version that shows off more details, because the look and colors are delightful. But I digress. The album opens with an industrial-adjacent, lurking track called “Blob Bazaar.” It immediately shows off a strong grasp of the shenanigans that can be had with psytrance music, as it plays around with a dynamic build-up before going crazy-weird and fun.
Now, “Gnorts, Mr. Alien,” is a bit of a nerdy inside joke in name, but it also happens to be one of MDA‘s universal fan favorites, and for good reason! The song opens on a very delightful melody that is dressed up with samples in all the right ways, without needing to resort to high energy to get its point across. The use of playfulness layered overtop a simpler beat is one of the best parts of MDA‘s style in general and this is shown off beautifully in this track. The next track, which shares its name with the artist, is pure happy music. It’s easy to smile and dance or groove around to it, actively or passively. Around the 5:30 mark, it kicks up the funkiness and psychedelia just a little more to keep its 7½ minute runtime lively without feeling rushed. It’s one of those songs that, when you hear it, it’s hard to be too grumpy. Then we have “Pyh Ae Vae Nistus,” which opens on a spacey, psychedelic note, building steadily into lively and bouncy piece with great layering – if you pay attention, there’s a lot going on, but it all goes so smoothly together. “Rolling Stoned” plays around with beats for the most part, not standing out as much on the groove/psyche end of things, but does demonstrate a significant interest in what underlies a good psytrance song.
“Something Something Something… Dark-Side” (isn’t that the name of a few episodes of Family Guy?) opens slowly but takes its time to build up, with plenty of sounds that could easily bring to mind sci-fi effects like lasers and other cool shit. Near the 4½ minute mark, the danceability kicks up to another level, along with the energy. The longest song on the album at over 8 minutes is simply called “Stuff,” with a build-up that leads into a slight fake-out rather than a climax, going to continue on its own journey without following your sonic preconceptions. The song actually makes up a pretty nice collection of musical “stuff,” going with the flow rather than telling a direct story. The album then begins to wind down with the best-named song of them all: “The Frederik of Psytrance.” No, I don’t get it, but I definitely want to. Are there Frederik melodies in this song? I don’t know his material well enough to say. What I do know is that this song is a very fun collection of funky, up-beat melodies that are perfectly merged together, with some mischievous or even ominous bits, climaxing in a very dramatic (key?) melody, resulting in one hell of a delightful track as a whole.
All-in-all, “Shipments” is a fantastic collection of diverse material that easily holds up to the early material of other great psytrance and adjacent artists. Playing with a variety of sounds, samples, and tempos, and with no urgency to show off, MODERN DAY ALIEN proves to be one of the most interesting artists in the Finnish scene right now. If this is just the beginning, I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!
- Blob Bazar
- Gnorts, Mr. Alien
- Modern Day Alien
- Pyh Ae Vae Nistus
- Rolling Stoned
- Something Something Something… Dark-Side
- The Frederik of Psytrance