Thursday, September 22, 2016

Psyche - “Mystery Hotel” CD

Third album of stylish dark synth-pop

Psyche’s third album, originally released in 1988, is here remastered and combined with 8 bonus tracks (mostly 12-inch mixes and a previously vinyl-only 5-song live EP), making the definitive version after nearly 30 years. It’s another fairly drastic progression from the band’s earlier shock-horror days, and most of it works quite well.

“Mystery Hotel” shows Darrin’s blues and soul inspirations taking stride alongside brother Stephen’s slick electropop backdrop. “Insatiable” is a driving, slick analogue dance track that brings to the fore Stephen's amazing cinematic programming skills. “Wake The Flood Unconscious” combines a colder proto-industrial feel with Darrin’s soulful vocals. “The Outsider” is a slower, dark electro ballad. “You're The Only One” doesn't date well, both musically and lyrically, sounding like an early Depeche Mode cut, although with better vocals than Gahan could muster at the time.

The instrumental Stephen Huss composition, “Dreamstreet” is a definite highlight, combining Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter inspirations into a beautiful and unique analogue sci-fi soundtrack. “Eternal” is a late 80s-styled electro anthem, upbeat, but sounding definitely of its era.

Though “Mystery Hotel” may not be Psyche’s most consistent recording, there are unquestionably some of the bands highest marks here as they continued to evolve from their horror electro roots into something more complex and stylish, while retaining their trademark dark edges.

Kudos to Psyche and ArtOfFact for this quality reissue. All that seems missing are detailed liner notes or a history or message from Darrin about the recordings. Perhaps future pressings could address this, but for now, I’m happy with this comprehensive updating of this fine recording from a band deserving of so much more notice.

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