What do you get if you place members of The Black Angels, Elephant Stone, The Earlies, and The Horrors in one room?
For one thing, a phenomenal record collection. When Alex Maas, Tom Furse, Rishi Dhir and John-Mark Lapham coalesced as MIEN, one of the first things they did was swap a few compilations.
Getting to grips with one another's tastes, the project fused disparate approaches and styles into one other-worldly dollop of electronics fuelled psychedelia.
Debut album 'MIEN' arrives on Friday (April 6th) and it's truly remarkable, an extra-dimensional aural treat that offers surprises at every turn.
Clash invited each member of MIEN to contribute to this special edition of Influences...
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The Earlies - 'These Were The Earlies' (As picked by Rishi Dhir)
I discovered this band completely by chance at SXSW 2005. All it took was 11 people crammed onto a small stage for a brief 15 minute set and I was sold. It felt like 'The Soft Bulletin' era Flaming Lips with more electronic/Krautrock flourishes.
Beautiful melodies sent through JM Lapham’s kaleidoscopic production; nothing was as it seemed. This sent me on a path to meet The Earlies and JM to see how music like this was made. It was all so mysterious and new.
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The Silver Apples - 'Silver Apples' (As picked by Alex Maas)
I first heard this band travelling through the Mid-West in a jukebox in Cincinnati Ohio. Someone put it on and I ran over to the machine to immediately find out who was making this futuristic music. I saw a silver couer with two apples on the front of it. The art to me was a mix between 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' album and the Breeders record with two strawberries on the cover.
I could not believe in finding out that the oscillating sounds coming from the jukebox where actually from 1968. It is still to this day one of the most ahead-of-its-time records I've ever heard. The vocals lived in this floaty cosmos sung by a man named Simeon which as far as I know and still know is from another planet.
This is very early trance music made by two people, tons of oscillating rhythms and beautiful vocals. I still have never heard anything that comes close to what they did on this first record. I was inspired by this record on every project I’ve been on ever since I heard it. Vocally Simeon was able to mix Appalachian melodies with Martian melodies. I love that.
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Ike Yard - 'Ike Yard' (As picked by Alex Maas)
I discovered Ike Yard and their song 'N.C.R.' in 2001 via a compilation called 'Anti NY'. All the tracks on this album were strong but this one really blew me away. It originally came out in 1982 but sounded more futuristic and technological than any of the electronic music that was coming out in the 2000’s.
This song was heavily steeped in my consciousness back in 2001 and prompted me to sit down with my AKAI S3000 sampler and start programming the bass and beats for what would eventually become our first song 'Black Habit'. Fast forward 15 or so years, I finally bought Ike Yard’s self-titled album and re-introduced myself to 'N.C.R.'. You can hear its influence all over my contributions to the MIEN album.
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Stereolab - 'Dots And Loops' (As picked by Tom Furse)
I could have chosen more or less any Stereolab album, but something about ‘Dots And Loops’ makes it stand out from the crowd of remarkably consistent albums Stereolab made over the course of their time existence as a band. The heavily electronic production echoes the zeitgeist of the time but warped and pulled in a way that is unmistakably 'lab.
Drum ’n’ bass drums but light and tight, vocoded drums, even some proto-grime beats! When you hear so many ideas in one place like this it’s like food for the creative brain, there’s a sense of mystery about how all these sounds came together and I feel a need to unravel that mystery and devour any such material with great joy.
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Nico - 'Camera Obscura' (As picked by John-Mark Lapham)
I chose this album specifically for the song, 'Fearfully In Danger'. I bought it back in the early 2000’s at a little record shop by the old Spirit Studios space where I went to school in Manchester. Prior to this I’d only ever known Nico as a psychedelic chanteuse, so it was quite a revelation to hear her voice woven in to such grinding, industrial production.
For whatever reason, the first time I ever heard the Black Angels, I kept thinking about this track, and “if I ever worked with these guys, this is the direction I’d take our music.” I had no idea at that time that we might be recording together. A couple of months later, Alex came on board. I think Nico was definitely pulling the strings on this one...
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MIEN will release their self-titled debut album on April 6th.
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