Mimesis – Art Imitating Life (Psy-Harmonics)

Posted in Reviews 2007 by - May 21, 2007


One thing to make clear about one of my most listened-to albums of the year is that it has absolutely nothing to do with psytrance. It’s ambient (sort of – more on this later) but by that I don’t mean the sort of cliché-masquerading-as-ambient stuff that your shantiwallah listens to in his hammock on a Sunday afternoon.


Mimses are a postmodern, prenatal supergroup: Steve Kilbey of Australian band The Church writes and performs the spoken word, with the music done by Simon Polinski (Hesius Dome, Ornament), Colin Berwick (Big Country), David Abiuso (My Friend The Chocolate Cake / VSO) with guest spots from Rip Van Hippy, Ollie Olsen, and other members of The Church.


It’s a challenge to put into words exactly what this album is about. Kilbey tells a story that has no discernable subject and no concrete progression: linear narrative is out the window and a more circular, almost fractal pattern emerges.


The upshot of this is twofold. On a practical level, the ‘story’ ‘works’ just as well regardless of the order you play the tracks in. Which is interesting: Cohesion, it seems, is overrated.


On a more vague and abstract level, the lack of rigidity has an interesting effect. You feel more vulnerable without the certainty of the principles of storytelling, in much the same way as a song completely without structure would make you feel as though the floor beneath you had disappeared. This quantum state is reflected in various points along the narrative; “Do you mean A future or THE future? It was A future, wasn’t the only future. It was just the one I ended up in.”


Without this comfort-blanket of regularity, you find yourself more vulnerable to the music, as though it’s a safety net. This in turn has the effect of increasing the importance of the sound – and at once, it becomes impossible to listen to this as anything other than a shimmering, stretching piece of… of something. The music feeds into and out of the narration with perfect psychedelic ease. Beats and melodies are desolately scarce yet cripplingly effective. Atmospheres take over and touch parts of you that you never thought existed.


Art Imitating Life is one of the only albums I’ve heard that’s truly deserving of the tag Concept Album, which is silly since there’s not really a concept, and I’m not really sure it’s technically an album.


This is something completely unique, thoroughly immersive, dangerously addictive and staggeringly imaginative. Oh, and bloody marvellous.



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