Sugar Highs and Mind Control with outsider pop's best, ex-Test Icicle Sam Mehran
Following the dissolution of Test Icicles back in 2006, there was never any shortage of projects for its members to be getting on with. But while Dev Hynes was settling into his current role of alt-pop guru and Rory Atwell was starting life as a record producer, Sam Mehran remained conspicuously absent. I’d heard that he’d hung up his boots – quit the music biz, exhausted from constant relocations and creatively spent from all of the short-lived bands. Apparently he was working in a coffee shop in New York, content with a quiet life.
Unsurprisingly, this turned out to be untrue. In fact, it was during this time that Mehran was his most prolific. Between 2007 and 2011 he put out dozens of cassettes, CD-Rs, 7”s and LPs through influential US underground labels like Olde English Spelling Bee, Not Not Fun and True Panther Sounds, often assuming different aliases with each new release (example noms de plume included Wingdings, Matrix Metals and Flashback Repository). The original home for this music was his own, fake record company, Outer Limits Recordings. This eventually became a catchall name for Mehran’s music, an ultra lo-fi brand of power pop that, alongside contemporaries (and occasional collaborators) like James Ferraro, would be labelled by the music press as ‘hypnagogic’.
The project came to an end in spring 2011, but Weird World Records have assembled some of the greatest hits in the form of Singles, Demos and Rarities (2007-2010), an essential insight into the odd, enticing and downright excellent world of Outer Limits Recordings. It’s due for release on April 15th, but you can hear the whole thing exclusively at Dazed Digital this week.