The seekers in New York City’s Psychic Ills have spent more than a decade following their muse wherever it takes them. Inner Journey Out, the band’s highly anticipated fifth album and first since 2013, is the culmination of an odyssey of three years of writing, traversing the psych-rock landscape they’ve carved throughout their career and taking inspired pilgrimages into country, blues, gospel, and jazz.
Inner Journey Out started out the way many Ills records have - with frontman Tres Warren's demos. Like all of their records, Elizabeth Hart's bass is the glue that holds everything together. Where other recent albums found Warren overdubbing himself to create a blown-out, widescreen sound, this recording handed the reigns to a multitude of guest players. A cadre of musicians and vocalists – including Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, who duets on lead single “I Don’t Mind” – join in on the journey. This is the first record to feature touring keyboard player Brent Cordero, his Farfisa and Wurlitzer work is a staple throughout. Rounding things out, is a platoon of drummers and percussionists including Chris Millstein, Harry Druzd of Endless Boogie, Derek James of The Entrance Band, and Charles Burst, one of the record’s engineers. These musicians build the frame on which Warren lays his hazy guitar and vocals. An endless array of friends and guests also provide pedal steel guitar, horns, strings, and backing vocals, which culminate in a career-defining moment for the Ills.
Thematically, Inner Journey Out is a detailed exploration of the interior and the exterior, and the pathway between the two. The focused songwriting makes the stylistic departures fit seamlessly within the band’s dexterous ethos. The rousing gospel number “Another Change” and the far-out free jazz exploration “Ra Wah Wah” help shape Inner Journey Out into a multi-faceted, full album experience. It’s the most personal Psychic Ills album, too, hinting tantalizingly at love and loss but denying the listener resolution — asking questions, but never answering; seeking, but never fully concluding.
A decade on from releasing their critically lauded cult debut, Dins, and the deep dive into cosmic improvisation of Mirror Eye that followed, through the more recent and straightforward outings of Hazed Dream and One Track Mind, Psychic Ills have delivered their most remarkable statement yet with Inner Journey Out.
File next to other drop out symphonies like Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized, Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson, and Born to Be With You by Dion, and let your journey begin.