Wednesday, April 29, 2015

MAGI "Silver" (Juniper Tree Songs)




A nice combination of echo chamber freak folk and ambient lo-fi electronic dark chillout. The cassette's artwork shows an out of focus figure sitting in a posture of defeat upon a poorly lit beach. The sky is roughly the same hue as the sand dune he is sitting on making the illusion of flatness, only what appears to be a fence keeps the reality of dimension. The figure appears to be male in all white pressing an indistinguishable object to his forehead. "8 H.F holding" is written in cursive above and "Hfrey "Bal/65 " is scribbled at the bottom as far as I can make out. The album cover is a perfect illustration for the music's themes; introspection, defeat, isolation and perhaps regret.

The beats sometimes sound as if they come from wooden spoons on tin or popcorn snares and minimal set ups, but they are occasionally from electronic sources too, although they're mixed through a muddy recording job which almost works like an oven, warming and melting the tones slightly. Silver's song structures are complex and use a variety of scales and instruments. Big themes emerge and Silver's vocalist can sound massive as his voice echoes through what may as well be Notre Dame Cathedral. But it also never loses that intimate "guy in a room with a four track" sincerity.

I gravitate towards the songs with drum machines, because otherwise it would remain in the tradition of strictly folk. The occasional keyboard preset keeps the cassette contemporary without becoming pretentious.

The cassette could benefit from higher production only to accentuate the lyrics which are pretty muddled to the point of being indiscernible. Take a hint from Leonard Cohen, you can successfully bum out an audience while keeping them grooving and understanding what you're saying. But to even make such a comparison is praise to Silver's promise for future releases.

A haunting cassette but also very beautifully and modestly composed, an easy addition to make to any Cassette God's collection.

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