Music / Features
Track by Track:
Spiritual Mafia - Alfresco
Words by James Lynch
Wednesday 17th March, 2021
Off the back of the release of Alfresco last week, we got in touch with Ben Mackie and Chris Stephenson from Spiritual Mafia and had the pair pick apart each moment of chaos on their sprawling debut album.
While in reality, Spiritual Mafia is made up of a number of familiar faces from loved underground acts (Ausmuteants, Cuntz, Exek and more), their debut album Alfresco feels a lot like a re-discovered cult classic. In a way this is partially true, considering the band only ever played a handful of shows before vanishing as members moved to different parts of the country. However, it’s the band’s hybrid of garage-rock, drone music and muggy proto-punk that makes the album feel simultaneously ephemeral yet timeless.

From beginning to end, Alfresco heaves with a sense of unhinged momentum, continually building and evolving but constantly refusing to over-extend itself. First single ‘Body’ sets this tone immediately with its relentless, chugging groove, while layers of dangerously kaleidoscopic guitar and synth tangle with vocalist Ben Mackie’s drawling yelps. Across its three and a half minute runtime, the track sprawls enigmatically but ultimately remains locked into one driving groove; a common theme across the rest of the record, whether the song runs for two or ten minutes.

Tackling Alfresco on a whole is a somewhat disorientating job. The album’s press release half-jokingly describes the listening experience as “spiritual”, but it’s not entirely wrong. There’s a murky, drugged-out effect as each track careens and expands onwards, and while they remain anchored by the band’s charged rhythm section, we’re often left feeling like we’ve got not much to grip onto while the instrumentation swirls around us. That’s not a bad thing though - particularly on the album’s longest tracks ‘Hybrid Animal’ and ‘Bath Boy’, this delirious haze is confusingly compelling, and by Alfresco’s finish, we’re likely to be repeating Mackie’s fervent lyrics like they’re some kind of warped mantras.

We spoke with the band to attempt to uncover the stories behind the tracks.

The simple pleasure of breaking bread with a loved one in an outdoor seated area. Family, friend or lover. Can it get any better than this? I think not. Chinese is my go to, some xiaolongbao, wontons in chilli oil, Spring Onion Pancake and some Mapo Tofu then a quiet stroll for a purple rice yogurt. Nothing connects humans like the act of sharing food. 


It’s good to be happy be it through ‘mind jam’ or in a concrete room full of ‘sweaters.’ I’m afraid sometimes emojis just plain get it wrong.

Hybrid Animal

This is a true story, happened to my friend Andrew. A tale as old as time. His neighbour arrived on his door, naked, wanting a cigarette. She claimed to have had sex with her three legged dog. Ahe had been impregnated with a ‘hybrid animal’ and it was now dying to get out. I hope she’s ok. 


I give my body up to a higher power, my body is no longer mine. I cease to have ownership of my flesh and blood. Through this I become more powerful. I close my eyes and open a door. On the other side of that door I see a rock. I focus on the rock. I am the rock. I am the donkey that carried Jesus. 


The greatest way to say I love you to that special someone is to take them to the pool. I like the way the water smells.  Sometimes I open my eyes in the water and feel the sting. People then start looking at my eyes which are by then really red.

Bath Boy

I feel at home in the bath. It’s a place to relax and reflect. A place to consider the big questions. To bathe is to meditate. The soup of the mind. I’ve bathed with man, woman and beast. I’ve bathed with the gods.
Alfresco is out now through Anti Fade Records - head to to purchase the album on limited vinyl.
Photo by Lewis Hodgson