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Picked to Click 2018 No.8: IE (tie)

IE

IE Emily Capper

Ritual soundscapes, atmospheric mysticism, elemental drone—none of these phrases quite captures the sound of Minneapolis band IE.

Listening to their debut album, Pome (released in July by Moon Glyph), feels like dialing into the collective unconscious. Synth frequencies shimmer beneath meditative drums, pulsing bass, organ riffs, and the occasional flourish of female vocals. The effect is a psychedelic wash from another planet that, in the words of keyboardist Michael Gallope, evokes “landscapes with strange shapes on the horizon.”

Formed in 2016, IE’s lineup gradually evolved into its current five-piece ensemble, which combines sax, bass, guitar, synth, drums, and organs to create their transportive sound. The name IE (pronounced “eee”) comes from the Andean word for the smoke at the origin of the universe. However, the origin story of IE has more to do with chlorinated steam than ritual smoke: They credit an eight-person hot tub installed in their practice space last year with pushing their sound into its current, hazy vibe.

IE’s collective songwriting approach might be the source of their music’s cultish energy. “Usually songs start as extended jams around one idea,” says synth player/guitarist Travis Workman. After teasing out different iterations of new songs, the band peels away layers of sound to find its core. “Sometimes you only need one great thing to fill six or seven minutes,” says Gallope.

At their live shows, IE translate their meditative practice sessions to activate larger rooms. “It erases a lot of the chatter,” says drummer Meredith Gill, aptly describing their album’s effect. Gallope adds, “If you can do almost nothing for 8 or 10 minutes and people are still engaged, it’s like you’re bending time.”

If all this ritual talk sounds a bit heady, the members if IE aren’t taking themselves too seriously. They’re inspired by the sounds of their everyday lives, laughing as they give due credit to appliances like a Nespresso machine that hums a perfect C note as well as band members’ dogs and children. “It’s not like we put on costumes and profess faith to a specific religion,” says Gallope. “We find ritual in whatever’s around.”

Pome generated substantial interest despite its limited cassette-tape release, and IE is already hard at work on the next album, which will turn up the volume and more prominently showcase vocals from members Crystal Myslajek and Mariel Oliveira. In the meantime, you can see them live at the Eagles Club on November 20.

Click here to check out the rest of the list, or click here to read about Tongue Party, who also tied for No. 8 in Picked to Click.