Mind Brains at The Vinyl District

Based in Athens, GA and featuring membership drawn from over a half dozen prior units of shared geography and stylistic traits,Mind Brains combine psychedelia, low-tech electronics, a healthy experimental streak, and a moody approach to songwriting. This intriguing concoction shapes their self-titled first album, which is out on January 20th via hometown label Orange Twin.

Much of Mind Brains’ creative personality can be deduced by the sleeve of their debut. For starters, the oversaturated range of color definitely infers a psychedelic sensibility. Secondly, the lack of clear authorship, at least on the front of the jacket (the back finds the name ominously carved into a picture of a young woman agape) lends an air of the ambiguous that’s heightened by a sense of danger, partially through the employ of the skull and crossbones.

Indeed, Mind Brains do explore decidedly druggy environments from an atypically mysterious angle, though they’re pretty up-front in crediting influences; there’s the underutilized early electronic trinity of New Yorkers Silver Apples, Gary Numan’s recordings under the moniker Tubeway Army, and Damon Edge and Helios Creed’s work as Chrome, plus a stated preference for the neighborhood where Brian Eno hung out with Krautrockers.

Mind Brains can also be considered as a contempo Athens supergroup, Andy Gonzales a contributor to of Montreal, Marshmallow Coast, and the Music Tapes, Eric Harris involved with the Olivia Tremor Control, Major Organ and the Adding Machine, and Elf Power as well as the Music Tapes, Hannah M. Jones playing roles in Circulatory System, Supercluster, the Instruments, and New Sound of Numbers, and Kris Deason a part of Dark Meat.

Emily Waldron is the only member whose past experience hath eluded me, but I’ve a sneaking notion some earlier collaboration is under her belt. Exactly who plays what and when on Mind Brains is a stumper; amongst the standard guitar, bass, and drums can be heard electric autoharp, keyboards (a “Destroyed-and-Repaired Casio SK-1”), rhythm devices (“Modded-Out Toy Drum Machine”), and as stated, beaucoup electronics.

Given all this background, they inhabit the psychedelic surroundings (with indie and punkish underpinnings) quite naturally, and it makes them a swell fit for Orange Twin, a long running regional enterprise that’s previously issued material by a few of the aforementioned Mind Brains antecedents (Instruments, Major Organ, Elf Power) alongside stuff by Jack Logan, Gerbils, Sibylle Baier, Vic Chesnutt (Dark Developments in tandem with Elf Power), Madeline, and Jeff Mangum solo and in Neutral Milk Hotel.

“Happy Stomp” commences the disc with a smattering of manipulated vocal samples before the instrumentation drifts into a milieu fairly at odds with the title of the piece; notably dissimilar to a blissed-out scenario (though not accurately described as sad, either), the setting’s also pretty far afield from any kind of stomping. Instead, we get methodic string scrape, martial drums, woozy cheapo keys, spurts of synth and a general vibe of tribal psych.

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