If I had to bet, at this very moment I'd say Andy Molholt is either 1) churning out the latest in psych-pop revival, or 2) pondering the meaning of human existence and its place within the fabric of our universe. I've never been one for gambling, but this one I've got down pat. I had the chance to speak with Mr. Molholt himself—who operates under the moniker Laser Background for his independent ventures into trippy, '60s-inspired ditties—and even over the phone, he fills the room with his affable and existentially-tortured soul.
Based in Philadelphia since about 2006, Molholt's seen the city's psych-pop renaissance flair and dissipate, as his focus switched from starting a band (The Armchairs) to striking out on his own. Laser Background revolves around the intersection of childhood and the psychedelic, a fitting choice for an artist whose concept of time is akin to Dali's The Persistence of Memory. His latest album, Correct, is a whirlwind of wind-chime synths and subtle reverb, freckled by some ambient distortion. Molholt enlisted the help of his friends and musical peers Carlos Hernandez and Julian Fader (of Ava Luna) for production, mixing, and some instrumental garnish. Their collaboration makes sense—both groups are known for their eclectic inspirations, which stretch outside the realm of music itself.
For Molholt, perhaps one of the greatest influences (aside from youth, and its not-so-firm place in our past) is science fiction. Any fellow sci-fi fans will be quick to notice Correct’s track "Something Wicked This Way Comes," named after the Ray Bradbury classic. The song has a noticeably heavier vibe, complete with far-off quips from an automated voice, as if we were momentarily tuned in to an instructional broadcast (“You have total confidence in your ability to see clearly,” the even-tempered robot implores).
Molholt sings along with a high-pitched staccato, adding to the dark and slightly eerie tone, “No one will believe / What the kids have seen,” referencing Bradbury’s young protagonists and their encounter with a time-bending carnival carousel. It’s a bit chilling, but hypnotic—dipping more into rock than pop, and following Molholt’s main edict: to lull his audience out of laziness. His sound may be trance-like, but its always unexpected. Manipulated vocals and non-linear song trajectories all abound on Correct, because true to psychedelia’s main tenet, it’s about expanding your mind, not pacifying it.
So brace yourselves and dive in. And if you happen to meet Andy Molholt at his next gig, tell him “Everything that happens before death is what counts.” You’ll get brownie points, I promise.