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Review + Q&A: Mythic Sunship- Light/Flux (2022, Tee Pee Records)

Wouldn’t it be perfect bliss to be able to attend a bunch of jam sessions of your favorite artists, just to be there when they improvise and anticipate their artistic similarities and differences? Perhaps to sit in the middle of the room, on a big comfortable carpet, with the drums on the far side of the room, the guitars and bass all around and a saxophonist walking through it all and filling the space with its euphoric tones when the time is right? Well, Mythic Sunship from Denmark know all about you and your inner longings. With Light/Flux they have released their tenth release in ten years (!) showing their listeners that they have absolutely no problem inviting them to their most intimate jam sessions and revel in their creativity and virtuosity.

The band themselves have told me that with each release so far they have implemented a bit more structure and organization, and so Light/Flux is probably their tightest and most balanced record to date, but you can hear that this band has played together for a long time, and that improv and jams are deep ingrained in their cumulative DNA. The result is once more a terrific jazzy, fuzzy, post rock, post stoner, post whatever session that will appeal to musicians, heads, and musical omnivores alike. The sheer joy of creation and general flow is something that Mythic Sunship excel at, bringing them up to great heights with bar none to rival them at their game at this moment in time.

So if you feel like getting a bit lost, have a seat on Mythic Sunship’s carpet and be present to a wonderful jam, and then another one, and another one, through Blood Moon and Decomposition, past Tempest and ending at First Frost. In this hectic and turbulent world, it is a great joy that we have this band to rely on for their yearly output. So let’s celebrate.

For a band without a vocalist and lyrics it is always the question whether they even like to explain themselves and not let the music do the talking. Luckily I found drummer Frederik Dennen and bassist Rasmus Christensen in a talkative mood, and all my inner questions were quite elegantly answered…

Hi guys! How have you been since the last – and awesome – album Wildfire?

Rasmus: Not too bad, thanks! We finally got to go on tour and play live around Europe again. And now we’re about to release some of the music we’ve worked the hardest on ever – feels good!

Can you give us an insight into a regular day in the life of Mythic Sunship? Do you meet and jam very often? Do you live close by?

Rasmus: We all live in Copenhagen, so we see each other regularly and are close to daily in touch about band stuff. But we all have jobs etc. to take care of, so mostly we meet up once a week to jam or rehearse for the next concert or recording session.

Was there a difference in approach this time when you wrote and recorded Light/Flux?

Frederik: Yes, we have worked more with harmonies, melodies and composition in general. Improvisation is still an essential tool, but we have intentionally worked a bit more structured with this record. Something that I expect will be even more prevalent in our approach going forward.

The last two albums had the same artist doing the artwork, right? How did he pick/create the images to your music?

Rasmus: Tobias Holmbeck, who did the artwork, has his very own distinct aesthetics and works quite conceptually with a few signature techniques. So this current album  trilogy seemed like the perfect opportunity to work with him and get a consistent look for the three albums. We sent him the music as soon as we had it mixed for him to make his own impressions. Then we gave him the titles along with a few words on the vibe and feel we put into the music and finally suggestions for a color palette. ‘Light/Flux’ is — as it clearly shows — our white and blue album.

How much of Light/Flux is improvisation?

Rasmus: As Frederik said, ‘Light/Flux’ is more composed or premeditated than our previous albums, but it’s still mostly improvised. That’s still the core of our working method and has been since the beginning.

How does a band like yours get so good at improvisation? I play in a band myself, but we never seem to be able to completely let go of songwriter structures… What’s the secret?

Frederik: I think the two most important factors are to play a lot and to not be afraid to fail. When you suck, keep at it, and figure out what worked in the jam. It’s also really important to back up other people’s ideas even if you don’t like them (the ideas I mean). For example, maybe your guitarist plays a riff in the middle of a jam, and you don’t really feel it. Well, try to just back him/her up instead of forcing the jam in the opposite direction. Once people start feeling safe to take chances in your jams, you’ll be able to walk on new/original ground rather than chuggin’ up the same ol’ stoner riffs or psych vibes. It’s also incredibly important to stay curious in your approach to music — to us it is at least. If all you listen to is Black Sabbath and Sleep, guess how your jams are going to sound… We actively try to bring elements from all corners of music into our music, and when we listen to music in the tour van, we listen to Beyonce, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Mastodon and lots of other stuff in between. Musical arrogance or narrowmindedness is holding a lot of bands back from creating anything of relevance.

Rasmus: I guess the more different kinds of inspirations you bring to an improvisational setting, the more exploratory that improvisation will be. And exploration is a driving force in improvisation, for us at least.

Who were/are your improvisation inspirations? And which band is currently best at it do you think?

Frederik: Again, I think it’s been important for us to draw from anyone that improvises, whether it’s Ash Ra Tempel, John Coltrane or Earthless.

Rasmus: I’m very much inspired by the local scene here in Copenhagen. Going to concerts is for me the best way to get inspired, and there are some great players here.

You have been an instrumental band for quite a while, was there ever a time you considered working together with a vocalist? And if you could pick any vocalist, who would you work with?

Frederik: We have never ever considered implementing vocals. Now, ten years in, is the first time that we are starting to think about maybe, someday

Rasmus: But what would we write songs about? Who would write them? I can’t imagine. I guess I’d be open to the idea of someone vocalizing, but actual songs with lyrics, I don’t hear that for our kind of music.

What are your short term goals as a band? And what is your ultimate goal?

Frederik: Short term, we are looking to make some new music, and work even more with our approach. It’s been quite a while since we were in the studio (ironic, since we’re releasing new music right now), and we definitely look forward to start creating again.

Rasmus: Ultimately to make music that people listen to in 20, 30, maybe even 50 years.

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after reading this interview?

Rasmus: Listen to that voice deep inside you, that tells you what to do… really listen… and if it tells you to buy our new album, obey!

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