With their far-out sound and diverse sonic palette, LA’s Send Medicine work their psychedelic magic on their knock-out new record, Mata Hari Honey, released today August 12th.
For over a decade, the band has flirted with multiple genres and styles within the realm of psychedelic music tradition. Currently a five-piece, their eclectic sound has earned gigs such as opening for chillwave pioneer Toro y Moi. Formed by Canadian Julian Hacquebard along with Ryan Patrick Glennan, Marc Agostini, David Ozinga, and Trevor Tallakson, Send Medicine is a project that is as spacious as it is earnest with the expansive instrumentals accompanying often introspective lyrics. The band’s intricate and intentional soundscapes are a cornerstone to their style, and originality is something they deliver in spades.
And all of this rings true in Mata Hari Honey.
The record begins with a track title that sparks immediate intrigue in “Buffalo’s Eyelids,” which starts with a somber count-off. This is also how NASA starts their missions to space, and I’d say this is a fitting comparison for the sound achieved, as well as a metaphor for the out-of-this-world journey the record brings the listener on, which is immediately sensed. “It is a parade / In the stars / Tonight,” Hacquebard sings, each word gentle and lullaby-like. Featuring reverb-laden piano, ghostly guitar bends, and a sultry vocal, the song is buoyant and transcendent.
The trend of eye-catching song titles continues with the second track, “You Can’t Crucify Her She’s A Spectacle.” It’s a modest minute and thirty percussive groove with the singer’s dream-like vocals carrying the psych folk-pop number. It feels like something The Beatles might’ve considered as a B-Side for Abbey Road.
With a mix of acoustic guitar, synthesizer, and layered vocals, “Combination” is just that- a beautiful crystalline song that conjures the easygoing feeling of the West Coast sound. As a LA-based band, it’s easy to imagine seeing the waves crash as this song plays and being perfectly at peace or in a state of contemplation.
On the band’s lead single and sixth track on the album, “Checking In,” a vulnerable lead vocal cuts through the space with, “It’s a goddamn shame,” as the melancholic piano-led intro changes into a bluesy psych-groove that is truly transcendent in its six and a half minute slow burn.
In a jazzy twist, “Witches” sounds like a jazz club opened on Mars. The icing on the cake is the ethereal distant voice that cascades down like a waterfall over the airy track forged by raw piano and simple drums. The band does an excellent job of keeping the listener on their toes and wondering what will come next.
Closing out the journey, the harmony-riddled “Blush” is a psych-soaked ballad placed over a bed of soft noise that is as welcome in the realm of Laurel Canyon as it is in one’s dreams.
In March of 2020 as the world was spiraling into the first act of the pandemic, Hacquebard was forced to flee India back to Los Angeles or risk being trapped in lockdown in New Delhi, where flights got cancelled left and right. He’d been based in Rishikesh for a month, living clean and getting a teaching certificate in Yoga. Upon returning to California and lockdown, he started immediately writing songs on the piano; some fully fleshed out and some just tiny ideas.
Over the next year, he would hide away in the Send Medicine studio working alongside Agostini to bring these songs to life. Some of the songs were not only recorded during lockdown, but also during the curfews that were put in place in May of 2020 in the wake of the George Floyd Protests. “We would be tracking something and then get a notification on our phones that we had to be back home by 6 PM, the next day it was 5 PM. The military was rolling into downtown just blocks away from where we were creating,” Hacquebard said. All of the weirdness and uncertainty found its way onto Mata Hari Honey, their fourth full-length album.
Send Medicine has created a record that is deeply satisfying in its cohesiveness, and encourages a front-to-back listen as it makes the listener feel a part of something bigger than themselves. This is an album for those who do not want the same old same old. This is for thrill seekers and those who want spontaneity and depth to their music. For those who want music to move them, Mata Hari Honey is right on the money.