Mile Me Deaf has long been a sci-fi sounding oddity in the musical landscape. Across four full-length albums and one collection of other tracks, the venture has transformed from a solo venture of Austrian artist Wolfgang Möstl to a three-piece outfit. With its formation changes, the outfit evolved a delightfully psychedelic, guitar-backed shoegaze sound that culminated in 2017’s fine Alien Age album.
Now, Möstl has seemingly decided it is time for a soft reboot of his eight-year-long project. Fifth album Ecco sees MMD return to its solo foundations and embrace a new synth-based, equally sci-fi feeling sound.
Blending pop sensibilities with elements of vaporwave, lo-fi, and psychedelic walls of sound, Ecco strikes a blissful blend of repeated electronic loops and organic human performance. Where the psychedelic sounds Mile Me Deaf previously embraced could leave you in a daze, these electronic soundscapes set out to hypnotise.
Adding to this hypnotism is Möstl’s lyrics. Whereas previous songs could have clearly recognisable subjects and themes, Ecco is veiled in abstracts. It’s not so much about what is said, but the delivery of those words and the feeling in line with the music.
Take ‘Holodeck’ as an example. It was first released a year ago and is one of the most accessible tracks on the album. Irrespective of the precise details of the story told in the lyrics, select phrases like “it was over before it began; it seems right to merge into the background,” and “at first I tried to turn down the fact I was already done” are delivered with remorseful negativity that flirts with an optimistic tone. The precise meaning is irrelevant; you can ascribe your own meaning as you’re hooked on the lo-fi electronic sounds.
However, Ecco doesn’t quite deliver on the highs set out in Alien Age. Over eight tracks and little over half an hour of runtime, only two tracks – ‘Weirdness’, for its quasi-earworm chorus refrain, and the seductive grooves of ‘The Plan’ – stand out.
MMD achieves a rare thing in producing an album that is best experienced from beginning to end in one hypnotic session, but it manages this by being consistently familiar throughout. It is thoroughly enjoyable, but there are not enough changes in tempo or intensity to provide much variation.
Ecco catches the new iteration of Mile Me Deaf – sitting somewhere between Tame Impala, Neon Indian, and Little Dark Age-era MGMT. It’s an enjoyable way to space out for 34 minutes, but it doesn’t offer much of the memorability or excitement of what has come before.
Ecco is out now. Buy or stream it here.