Comprised of The Black Angels‘ Alex Mass (vocals, samples, loops), The Horrors‘ Tom Furse (keys, programming), Elephant Stone‘s Rishi Dhir (bass, sitar, keys) and The Earlies‘ John-Mark Lapham (keys, samples, programming), the indie All-Star supergroup and side project MIEN can trace its origins to roughly 2004, when Rishi Dhir, who was playing sitar and bass with a previous band on a SXSW bill with The Brian Jonestown Massacre had a chance encounter with The Black Angels’ Alex Mass. Dihr also had a chance encounter with The Earlies, who he would similarly collaborate and share a stage with. Interestingly, Mass, Dihr and Lapham bonded over a mutual love and appreciation of The Association‘s “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin;” in fact, upon learning that Lapham had a deep desire to cover it, they all began the slow process of putting together the version they’d always dreamt of. Unfortunately, while that never came to fruition, it created the collaborative and creative sparks that would become MIEN.
In 2012, Dihr was playing bass with The Black Angels, and at the time they were sharing bills with The Horrors, whose Skying was on heavy rotation for him. Dihr made the acquaintance of Tom Furse, and they made a pact to work together on something in the future. As a quartet, the members of MIEN made another pass at covering The Association but coincidentally around the same time, there was a Lapham demo, based around a Beastie Boys sample that eventually became the murky and hallucinatory “Black Habit,” the first single off the band’s self-titled debut.
The album’s second and latest single “Earth Moon” continues on a similar ambient and kaleidoscopic vibe; however, the song finds the act pairing propulsive yet atmospheric electronics with shimmering sitar — and while being as menacing as its predecessor, sonically it’s a perfect amalgamation of Directions to See a Ghost-era The Black Angels and Elephant Stone.
The recently released video for “Earth Moon” features the sinuous and undulating, hand-painted animation of Rochester, NY-based visual artist and musician Mike Turzanski. As MIEN’S John Mark Lapham says in press notes “I’ve admired Mike Turzanski’s artwork since around 2011 when he did some work for a project I was working on at the time called The Revival Hour. Mike is a Rochester, NY based artist and musician that creates these surreal and oftentimes nightmarish worlds through his art. (I’ve been looking for ways to work with him again ever since he had me and a friend of mine dunked in a cold lake in Rochester spitting pink goo out of our mouths for a photography project… don’t ask…) When it came time to find an artist to create a video for Earth Moon, he was the first person I thought of. I knew he had done a lot painting and sketches, but wasn’t sure he ever tackled a completely animated video production. When I asked him if he’d be interested, he jumped on it and within a few weeks we got a fully formed hand painted video! Mike’s an amazing artist and we’re honored to have his hands all over MIEN. I’m looking forward to our next collaboration (though hopefully not in a freezing lake this time…)”
“The vision for “Earth Moon”’s video was first presented to me with the visual inspiration of early 70s animations. These vintage videos have the distinct look and feel of something completely hand made,” Mark Turzanski explains of the video concept in press notes. “Looping psychedelic visuals in a very raw form felt like the best approach. Each frame was hand drawn and scanned in to produce the analog and physical look. Taking this older cel animation frame by frame technique was very consuming but well worth the result. “Earth Moon” is a song that makes you feel like your body is a rippling wave in space. I wanted to create a video that would only add to this feeling.”