The man (and voice) behind Norway’s iampsyencefiction is Aleksander Johansen, who hails from the far north of the country (Lofoten). Such an isolated location can no doubt be bountiful inspiration for the band’s lonely troubadour and the sounds he makes. His beautiful and brooding melodies are to be found on the self-titled EP which is out now.
Now located in Oslo, Johansen’s moniker was inspired by Unkle’s 1998 debut album (Psyence Fiction) and maybe he’s regretting going for such an unusual name now, based on the number of times he gets asked how to pronounce it (and yes, I hold my hand up, I am guilty of that).
From the initial beginnings of crafting these alluring sounds in his bedroom, the music has now developed to be played as a full band, with Johansen and his musician friends forming an exciting music collective that includes Nils Martin Larsen (ex. Lama), Simen Aasen (Einar Stray), Eirik Kirkemyr (Dråpe) and Eivind Almhjell (The Little Hands of Asphalt, Sunturns). The band members played their biggest gig to date last October, supporting (and getting name-checked by) Justin Vernon’s Volcano Choir.
The self-titled EP was released at the end of November via the Oslo label Tender (ACT‘s off-shoot ‘for dark and enigmatic endeavours’). The opener ‘City in Spades’ is a fine example of an encounter with Johansen’s exquisite soundscapes, with backing vocals for this and the other songs on the EP coming from none other than Norwegian songstress Therese Aune. The four-track release is achingly short (21 minutes) in terms of material but that’s just because I can’t get enough of that beguiling voice.
Good news then, that the band’s full-length debut album is in the making, due out around November time, according to Johansen. ‘Spy vs Spy’ is one of the first tracks to be aired from the new record, which was shared via this beautiful video, shot in a church and is apparently about ‘a planet that is free floating in space’ (more behind-the-scenes insight into this recording can be found here). This was unleashed soon before the band’s appearance at this year’s by:Larm festival, with another great session being recorded during the festival itself (see below).
Let’s hope all the interest these raw and emotive performances are generating means that iampsyencefiction can soon be enticed outside Norway to play a few shows. We won’t need to wait long I feel.
Note: In recent weeks, Johansen’s band name has morphed slightly, into Psyence Fiction. This in keeping with a change of the band’s situation, as he comments, ‘It is no longer just ‘I’ involved in the creative process of making our music’. A new name and a new image with the same distinctive sound, the band heads into the studio to start recording the first full-length album next month!
Released 29 November 2013:
Album available via iTunes