PIANO MAGIC: Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet (Second Language Music)


Posted on Aug 3rd 2012 01:49 am

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Piano Magic: Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet

Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet
Second Language Music 2012
13 Tracks. 51mins02secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP iTunes: DLD

Keeping up with Piano Magic is akin to finding one’s way in a giant maze. Inspired in part by the fluidity of form of This Mortal Coil, Piano Magic was formed in 1996 by Glen Johnson, Dominic Chennell and Dick Rance, the collective has since developed around an ever changing line-up, which has seen an impressive number of musicians and vocalists, including Vashti Bunyan on a couple of occasions. The collective released a couple of albums on Rocket Girl before joining for a time the ranks of 4AD with their soundtrack to Bigas Lunas’s Son De Mar (2001) and their follow up album, Writers Without Homes a year later. Since, the ensemble’s output has been extremely diverse and scattered on a wide range of labels, from Green UFOs, En/Of, Monospone to Important Records, Make Mine Music and more recently Second Language.

Following a string of increasingly guitar-heavy records, Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet, Piano Magic’s eleventh studio album, returns to the sombre introspection of Writers Without Homes, spurred by a strong blend of electronic textures, acoustic instrumentation and occasional orchestral washes which provide the ideal backdrop for Johnson’s existential songs. The personnel is relatively restricted here, comprising Johnson (voice, guitars, percussions, piano), Franck Alba (voice, guitars, bass, music box), Angèle David-Guillou (voice, keyboards, dulcimer, guitars, piano), Alasdair Steer (bass) and Jerome Tcherneyan (drums, percussions, keyboards, bass), who are joined by a handful of guests are various points throughout.

The mood is, overall, more subdued than on some of Piano Magic’s recent outputs. Announced by the mournful tones of a viola de gamba and shimmering bells, Matin leads into the almost incantatory Judas, which sees Irons’s Josh Hight take on lead vocal duties. Although acoustic instruments still feature heavily throughout, the use of electronics on many of the songs serve to define much of the atmospheric aspect of the record, intentionally tarnishing songs like Chemical (20mg), Jar Of Echoes, You Don’t Need To Tell Me or A Secret Never Told with dark sonic streaks or textural fragments. Elsewhere, the emphasis is on more pastoral folk-infused moments (Lost Antiphony) while the title track or The Animals, the latter also featuring a vocal contribution from Josh Hight, channel emotional intensity and gloom which infuse the whole of this record in a more organic fashion.

Johnson, Alba and David-Gilou take vocal duties in turn, adding to the inherent haunting feeling of these songs, giving them each a particular tone. The way the quintet maintain an element of coherence throughout while taking on a range of moods demonstrate how, while not being a tight organisation as such, they manage to bring their respective experience together to benefit the work as a whole.


Piano Magic | Second Language Music
Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP iTunes: DLD

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