Psychedelia gets into everything in Portland. It’s in our water. It leeches into the plants, staining their blossoms a hazy shade of tie-dye. It’s in the air we breathe, and when we go to write songs, it gets into those too. Mother Mariposa, the new project from Jsun Atoms and Thomas Mudrick, is no exception. The Monarch Key, out November 22nd on Little Cloud Records, is a heady ride, veering between electronica, indie rock and post punk, with a psychedelic heartbeat that keeps it chugging madly along.
At the center of the sound is the singular voice of Jsun Atoms, whose vocal style lies somewhere between chant and mantra, guiding listeners through the frantically hypnotic songs with a purpose that almost seems at odds with some of the more lingering lines. Atoms is accompanied by Thomas Mudrick, Dan Fernie-Harper, Austin Barone and Trask Schulte, all of whom have impressive resumes on the indie psych scene. The result is a series of catchy riffs, which manage to stay moving in a way that psychedelic music often blissfully forgets. That being said, The Monarch Key is surprisingly long for its seven song track list, with cuts ranging from five and six minutes to a luxurious ten on, “Pilot Light,” the album’s slow motion lead single. It’s an unexpected choice for the lead spot—most people would pick one of their dancier tracks—but “Pilot Light” doesn’t overstay its welcome, evolving in stages towards a climactic wash of harmony that brings each of the member’s talents into focus, earning the spot when all is said and done.
Jsun Atoms’ other group, The Upsidedown, has garnered attention through placements in a number of soundtracks, and some of that same cinematic energy can be found on The Monarch Key. The monotonic vocals and oscillating rhythms sometimes feel more textural, like a backdrop, and if there’s criticism to be levied against the album, it’s along those lines. Though, for those familiar with the band-member’s previous projects, Mother Mariposa is a freshly tripped-out take on similar fundamentals.
The album is out everywhere on November 22nd. Mother Mariposa will be touring the Northwest with The Dandy Warhols, including a show December 7th at Portland’s own Crystal Ballroom. Get tickets here.