Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation @ Soup Kitchen, 1 Mar
Currently touring their second album Mirage, Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation are gaining a following on the back of their hypnotic psychedelia, now regularly heard on BBC Radio 6 Music. In a concise set at the Soup Kitchen, though, the six-piece reveal that there's a crisper edge to them too.
Led by the reverberating voice of lead singer Öhrn, The Liberation’s smooth wash of colour takes cues from Can and krautrock, as a kaleidoscope of cells or planets is projected behind them onto the wall of Soup’s basement. Their sound works on both micro and macro levels: it can lull you into a contemplative trance or help your mind transcend to an altogether larger place.
The chiming guitar of the band’s latest single Sister Green Eyes relies on maintaining the trance while Rainbow Lollipop has a jammier feel. Starting with an undulating synth line, it eventually kicks into a groovier beat as Öhrn takes her mic from the stand, her mysterious French whispers guiding us on an adventure tour around our own minds.
The band’s radio hit Rushing Through My Mind swiftly follows, evoking cheers from the packed crowd. Mirage’s most breezy track, the Liberation’s rendition here is crunchier than the studio version’s gentle propulsion. It’s to the detriment of the song’s subtlety, perhaps, but the song’s blossoming synth lines and vocal harmonies are irresistible before the band rolls into a pacy, tambourine-led rendition of The State which comes to a thrashing finale.
Just when we think The Liberation have knackered themselves out for the evening, they come back to play two tracks from their debut LP Horse Dance – the sultry, Hendrix-tinged funk of Free and the racing synths of Dunes. ‘It’s not a matter of choice anymore,’ Öhrn croons – you have to pay attention.