itchy-O has been busy. Today the band released an album with an emphasis on vinyl format that’s paired with a zine and an interactive experience — oh, and they now have a record label. The percussion-fueled ritualistic release is their most revealing yet, daringly unmasking facets of the band — but only enough to still keep us wondering. Introducing a new — and bold — side of the group, the dual album, Mystic Spy | Psykho Dojo is our Local Listen this week.
For those unfamiliar with itchy-O, the 57-person group has worked their way up from a Denver staple to a national up-and-comer. The masked band blends Latin and other world influences, hard-rock and electronica, all fueled by percussions and unique sounds. They’re captivating and crushing all at the same time with one of the most interactive and completely insane live shows out there right now.
This is itchy-O’s first release under their own, new label, titled Mettle Studios — a change from the punk/alternative label they work with, Alternative Tentacles. Though the band now has their own label, they recently confirmed with Westword that they could still release albums with Alternative Tentacles. The record is out today — including on vinyl — paired with the release of itchy-O’s new zine, Idra & Scepter (which is also a track off the new album).
The album exists in two parts, which is why the vinyl format is emphasized with this particular release — Side A and Side B. Side A — Mystic Spy — is described by itchy-O as “a realm of esoteric trickery and espionage.” On the flip side — Side B — Psykho Dojo is a parallel universe of deep martial psychic discipline. But this isn’t the only reason the vinyl format is important — the album also has seven lock-grooves (grooves that repeat a loop, like at the end of a record or when a record is broken) paired with the seven tracks. Adding to the experience, the zine Idra & Scepter includes a puzzle that, upon solved, gives you special access to an interactive website where fans can “not only listen to the digital version of the lock-grooves but also layer, record, and download” their own takes.
Now, the album alone is worth a shot with all of the extra features. But what about the music itself? There’s a clear focus on the Taiko drums, synthesizers and samples. itchy-O said in a recent interview with Westword that Side B is where they noticeably spotlight the band’s Taiko drummers who trained with the world-renowned Sensei Seiichi Tanaka from San Francisco. The album also samples a variety of NASA recordings from the 1977 Voyager I. It’s more intimate and fine-tuned than their predecessors — ambient at times and mind-boggling at others. Mystic Spy | Psykho Dojo still contains everything that makes itchy-O “itchy-O,” while still providing a fresh take on the music they make.
The album perfectly encapsulates what itchy-O has to offer while simultaneously exploring dark new realms of the combined musician and performance group. It’s an exciting new release we don’t just recommend you listen to, but you get your hands on — subdue your streaming services and dive into itchy-O’s portal, Mystic Spy | Psykho Dojo.