The youthful and dreamy psych-pop project Mild High Club is the work of a single Alexander Brettin, which has grown over the years from a one-man project to a Brettin-lead group of touring musicians. In the past, Brettin has recorded, produced and performed with the likes of R Stevie Moore and Ariel Pink. With the 2016 release of Skiptracing, Brettin has manifested a successful improvement in production and artistic value embodied by a larger incorporation of the uncertain. Perhaps the most remarkable change between Mild High’s debut LP, Timeline, and Brettin’s sophomore album was his adjustment from vague lyrics to a more personalized vocal arrangement backed by an increased thematic storyline and elaborate musical arrangements. Just as exceptional was Brettin’s lively incorporation of downtempo acid jazz, which can only have one reminiscing on the likes of Sun Ra, Miles Davis and other prolific avant-garde jazz musicians of the late 60’s and 70’s. In this way, Skiptracing leaves the highly controlled sound of its predecessor at the door, putting less focus on imitating the sounds of its apparent influencers, such as Todd Rundgren and Mac Demarco, and turning its experimental eyes towards the wonders of the unknown; the combination of an odd set of sounds which just so happened to prove gorgeously cohesive. The opening title-track, “Skiptracing”, stays true to the dreamy, psychedelic vibe that Mild High Club has built as the basis of its musical experimentation, while diving into the wonders of jazz-fusion, introducing heavy, funky basslines, as well as exciting new drum beats, oddly suggesting the possible influence of tropicálismo, a late 1960’s Brazilian artistic movement. The record then spirals into the entrancing single “Homage” which once again showcases Brettin’s ability to combine intricate musical entities and dreamy yet defined melodies to surreal perfection. This trend is expressed throughout the first few tracks, until the LP reaches the incredibly refreshing, and personally recommended track, “Head Out”, which reaches the pinnacle of jazz fusion and experimentation on this album. While listening to this album, one may forget to focus on the lyricism, perchance becoming lost in a dream-like cloud, but the theme of this album is rather interesting, as it lays out the story of a private detective wandering the twisted paths of American musical history attempting to discover the basis of sound in art. For lovers of jazz fusion and psychedelia-influenced jazz rock, consider the track, “¿Whodunit?”, which flaunts crashing symbols, rolling drum lines, and experimental trumpeting, backed by hypnotizing electro-production. All in all, the album reminds one of the jazz infused sounds of early 70’s LA billowed in a smog of dreamy nostalgia.

-James Myslinski