From Copenhagen, The Sonic Dawn released their fourth full-length at the start of the month, titled Enter the Mirage. Its sound is openly rooted in the psychedelia of the late 1960s, and recorded with vintage instruments to provide a convincingly authentic feel. The songs are well-written, avoiding a formulaic approach, with melodies that evoke blissful feelings of content that linger long after the album spins to a halt.
Throughout the album, there is an abundance of tasteful lead guitar playing with elements of Hendrix, The Doors and The Beatles at their most tripped out. As the song titled ‘Hits of Acid’ advises us that ‘You need to relax, man, smoke some weed and listen to some wax’, this perhaps isn’t an album for our straight-edge or socially conservative listeners. Yet for the others, the positive energy is overflowing. There is a clear sense of vintage, old-school pop sensibilities, giving the album a palpable feel-good factor and an infectious energy.
Conceptually, ‘Enter the Mirage’ focusses on freedom, following the loss of frontman Emil Bureau’s father, his job, and his subsequent desire to return to the cycle of working and careerism, which he considers a ‘dead end’. His catharsis is audible throughout this 37-minute journey.
‘Loose Ends’ uses sitars in the mix to give the sensation of a psychedelic experience, as it closes with an extended jam section, and ‘Children of the Night’ uses clever reverse effects in its acoustic intro to make it almost sound disjointed. The title track begins in an almost unsettling manner, as if a bump on The Sonic Dawn’s psychedelic journey, before resolving with more trippy, late 60s-style rock stylings.
The organ-heavy ‘Soul Sacrifice’ has a power-pop feel, and the vocal effects on ‘Join the Dead’ give a floating sensation. It is important to note that the numerous studio effects and trickeries do not feel convoluted, or out of place at any particular point. The Sonic Dawn have a clear artistic vision, making the most of and enjoying the benefits of a modern recording environment to recreate a specific sound from a distinctive musical era, where each of these developments were still in their infancies.
There are many retro-styled bands at the moment. Many of these bands (including some on their own Heavy Psych Sounds label) seem to focus mostly on recreating the early 1970s Black Sabbath sound, turning up their amps and dialling up the fuzz to emulate the grittier, darker sound of that decade.
The results can often be mixed, in a scene that feels highly saturated at times. It is refreshing to hear music that goes back a little further, to the Woodstock days of flower power and hippies. ‘Enter the Mirage’ is a bright and colourful effort that unashamedly does not seek to reinvent the wheel, but to remind us why the wheel began turning in the first place.