Psuche are a Melbourne art-pop ensemble crafting together beautiful movements only so they might disassemble them. And vice versa. Take ‘Tsuki La La’, for example, where a traditional chant surfaces only to be amplified by sax and skins. Later the track is progressively pulled apart so that it ends with the motif of an expiring music box. This is immediately followed by ‘Tell Tell’ that, conversely, drifts through a pensive landscape before being lifted into glee and structure by a chorus of voices and martial beats, then deflated once more.
This “reconstructive” aesthetic pervades this self-titled debut, the only other impulse it is matched by is Psuche’s compulsive need to create and juxtapose textures. Ambient crackles are contrasted with plaintive, richly textured experiments, as organic sounds become synthetic and electronic glitches are naturally repeated.
In kinship with bands like Architecture in Helsinki and múm, Psuche know how to create a dense menagerie of sounds. But unlike the former, and even more so than the latter, they’re not afraid to rub things up against one another and take things into scratchy, dark places. That means they’ve got the balls to crash swathes of white noise up against xylophonic plinks and telephone tones in ‘Ulfenden’, and just as importantly, the compositional intuition to make it all sound so nice.
From the glorious patina of old-school touch-tone phones and typewriters used as metronomic devices and even down to Oscar Slorach-Thorn’s vocal affectations, everything on here is rubbed and rubbed again to show up its own tactility among the layers of moss. If all of this is sounding a bit writerly, just take note that there is as much pop as there is art in this tangle. Psuche is joyful, it’s instant, but don’t think it will just yield – this music wears a cloak. It’s this protean quality that will offer up new things to discover the many times you return to this album.
by Lawson Fletcher