The songs of Casey Mecija’s 2016 Psychic Materials weave together a satisfying tapestry.
When Ohbijou went on indefinite hiatus in 2013, the much-cherished orchestral pop band left a noticeable void in Canada’s musical landscape. Though many of the collective’s members embarked on equally impressive musical projects, the absence of music from vocalist Casey Mecija and the distinctive timbre of her singing voice — often heartbreaking, always remarkable — was palpable. Small wonder that when Mecija surprised fans in 2016 with Psychic Materials, they enthusiastically embraced and celebrated the news.
Determined to return to the DIY art making process of the creative community that sprang from her Bellwoods Avenue home in Toronto in the early to mid 2000s, Mecija made Psychic Materials on her own, away from industry expectations and pressures, bringing on board friends who inspired and helped shape the record’s shimmering, gossamer sounds. Borne out of a desire to address “queerness, diaspora, history, and love,” Psychic Materials’s songs are filaments of dreams, loose threads that may not lead to any narrative conclusion, but weave together a satisfying tapestry.
“Through loving I’m discovering details about myself,” she confesses on “Sounds That Mark Our Words”, reliving an intimate encounter and realizing that “In my memory we are so many things.” Quite by chance, Mecija dropped Psychic Materials the same week David Bowie died. At the time, the album felt like a succinct summation of the rollercoaster of emotion music fans had been on with the news of Bowie’s death. No matter what physical artifacts are left behind — works of art, mangled wreckage, physical scars on our skin — love, tragedy, euphoria, and heartache lives on in our minds, our memories, our remembrances. “There are facts that remain relieving,” Mecija soothingly sings on “The Otherside of Concrete”, “There is a door, there is a frame. / There is a shape, there is a name.”
Psychic Materials continues to resonate as both the portal and the frame Casey Mecija walks listeners through, a spiritual escort refusing to read from the tour guide script. Instead, she lays out the psychic materials — memories, ideas, and remembered moments — like scrapbook clippings on a blank page, and lets her audience assemble the collage in whatever manner makes sense to them.