As if overstating the idea of striking while the iron’s hot, prolific, Danish, psychedelic, free-jazz-explorers Mythic Sunship return from a brief hiatus with their jaw-dropping sixth album since 2017. Light/Flux, is the follow-up to 2021’s Wildfire, and their first for legendary New York label Tee Pee Records.
Light/Flux finds the mind-blowingly restless as the creative band continue their journey through this unique, sonic concoction they’ve been proffering since 2017. Essentially, Mythic Sunship take the idea of free-jazz spontaneity and improv, and meld it with some psychedelic, quasi-doom, garage-ish rock, served up instrumentally, that definitely presents itself as a unique aural experience.
I had heard of Mythic Sunship (who originally formed back in 2010, allegedly taking their name by combining the titles of Sun Ra’s Of Mythic Worlds and John Coltrane’s Sunship), but alas, with so much music to absorb, they had eluded me thus far, hence me jumping at the opportunity to review Light/Flux when I saw them show up on The Shaman’s promo list. I mean, as an obvious fan of heavy rock, and being open-minded to jazz, (I’m at least interested in it enough to have spent many Sunday afternoons in the sonic presence of the greats like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, as well as more obscure ‘70s artists like Idris Muhammad) I’ve been intrigued by this band for a while.
Light/Flux, for the most part, sounds what I imagined it to prior to listening to it. Spacey, desert-style, sometimes heavy instrumental rock, accentuated with saxophones flourishes, and free-jazz, psychedelic meanderings.
Opener Aurora sums up exactly what I just described, but also features some excellent lead guitar work from guitarists Emil Thorenfeldt and Kasper Stougaard Andersen. Additionally, we get an early taste of saxophonist Søren Skov‘s talents as Aurora careens towards its conclusion, most definitely feeling like a free-jazz, freak-out.
Light/Flux is a fantastic album, showcasing an interesting and unique take on the whole desert, doom and psych genre with a free-jazz approach…
The second track, Blood Moon, which may be my favorite on the album, opens with a rolling, hypnotic beat courtesy of drummer Frederik Denning, before the song slowly unfolds with some trippy guitar work from Andersen and Thorenfeldt, the song initially presenting itself with a desert/psych vibe, that is before Skov starts blowing some complimentary brass notes. The guitar interplay as the song builds between Andersen and Thorenfeldt is killer throughout, as is the walking, bassline, holding everything together courtesy of Rasmus Cleve Christensen.
Equinox mostly eschews Skov’s sax, at least until the end, as the song initially presents itself as another desert/psych affair, a realm where Mythic Sunship excel, as again the guitar interplay between Andersen and Thorenfeldt is fantastic, but as the song rolls along, it eventually descends into the free-jazz dissonance exhibited earlier on the album.
Decomposition is a ten-minute-plus jazz/psych freak out, complete with light jazz-drumming on the snare, are those brushes I’m hearing? The soft touch, however, doesn’t last long, as the song builds and builds into a full-on cacophony of free-jazz, mind-melds, pounding the ending riff into oblivion as Skov provides the brass trip-out on top of it all. Decomposition sounds like its title and it’s the most extreme example of Mythic Sunship’s sonic approach on Light/Flux.
Tempest begins as a nice palette cleanser, but lest the listener think Mythic Sunship was going to ride the groove and take it easy, Strov soon shows up, his presence announcing their descent into free-jazz, freak-out mode. However, the palette cleanser does finally arrive with closer First Frost, a trippy, desert/psych aural display, that rides a killer groove from Denning and Christensen, that again features all sorts of astounding guitar interplay between Andersen and Thorenfeldt. The band leave Strov on the sidelines here, preferring to end on more of a desert/psych note.
Light/Flux is a fantastic album, showcasing an interesting and unique take on the whole desert, doom and psych genre with a free-jazz approach, that for the most part works well, and doesn’t feel forced or shoehorned in. As well, all the musicians involved are exceptionally skilled, and the chemistry between them is on display throughout. This is a record that I’m sure I’ll revisit as I’m drawing, painting, or writing late into the evening, or on Sundays when I tend to unplug a bit from the mountains of riffs I’m routinely buried in. A cool album, from a unique band.
Scribed by: Martin Williams