MAGNETOPHONE: Wires & Traps (First Fold Records)


Posted on Jul 31st 2008 12:51 am

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Wires & Traps
First Fold Records 2008
04 Tracks. 22mins24secs
Format: CD

Birmingham’s Magnétophone have occasional burst of activity separated by long spells of nothing. From their first output on Static Caravan ten years ago, John Hanson and Matt Saunders have scarcely dispensed a handful of EPs and two albums, stretching their sound beyond the usual reach of electronic music to incorporate elements of pop and indie rock, amongst others. Apart for a collection of B-sides, remixes and rare tracks released last year and a contribution to Static Caravan’s Binary Oppositions, Wires & Traps is Magnétophone’s first release since their 2005 album The Man Who Ate The Man.

Taking for basis a different acoustic instrument as the main sound source for each of these four tracks, Magnétophone have created with this EP a fascinating collection of minimal pop songs which, despite their electronic parentage, have a definite gossamer indie feel. The EP kicks off with the delicate pop of Buried In The Ground. In its first half, soft vocals linger just below the surface, but, past the half way mark, the track takes a different turn and slowly develops into an epic ballad where piano and electronics shimmer and scintillate over elegant atmospheric strips. Easy When You Know How, which follows, continues on the shimmering theme but Saunders’s vocals are much more obvious here, and the addition of a looped bass line gives the track a much more earthy touch.

Earth Quake Stomach Ache and Wires & Traps are equally as minimal and spacious. The former seems to focus on a processed acoustic guitar line which is looped, reversed and layered to provide a gentle backdrop, at times enriched with flittering strips of accordion, for Saunders’s vocals, while the old school electronic textures of the latter cast a slightly darker shadow over the rarefied acoustic components.

With this excellent EP, limited to just one hundred copies, Magnétophone have once again created a strangely compelling and wonderful record which is at once powerful and dreamy, and above all, exceptionally human.


Magnétophone | First Fold Records

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