10th official album by London-based Anglo-French coldwave group, Piano Magic. Features special guests Brendan Perry and Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance.
It's difficult to know what propels Piano Magic. Here's a group that despite releasing over 30 records since their debut in 1996 have managed to sidestep anything resembling accolades. Though it was they who coaxed Vashti Bunyan out of a 30 year retirement for their 2001 album, Writers Without Homes, the credit went to the hipper Devendra Banhart and Animal Collective. Further collaborations with the likes of Low and Cornershop were quickly papered over. A beautiful soundtrack for Spanish film director, Bigas Luna, was lost to all but Spain's video stores. Regular tours and festival headlines throughout Italy, France, Germany and Spain may have paid off with a devout Continental following but haven't particularly translated into press or record sales. Records for the likes of 4AD, Morr Music and Darla have anchored them in "cult" status. Even so, after 13 years beneath a cloud of indifference Piano Magic have made some of the most compelling, poetic, dynamic and romantic records of our time.
Ovations, released October 12th is no exception. Recorded May through August of 2009 by Gareth Parton (The Go-Team, The Breeders, Pete & The Pirates) at his petite La Planque studio and The Fortress in London, Ovations is the Anglo-French group's 10th album proper. Typically for a Piano Magic record it's a restless beast; a record that swings wildly between Marrakesh, Eastern Europe, Sevilla and early 80s Manchester without breaking a sweat. Piano Magic have always worn their influences on their sleeves. The Chameleons, Joy Division and The Cure rub shoulders with Turkish darabuka, hammered dulcimer, viola, cello, flamenco claps. Elsewhere there are cold analogue synths, chiming guitars, mournful piano and industrial percussion.
Piano Magic's fascination with Eastern European percussion is in part much due to one of their biggest influences -- the Melbourne-born though World-wise 4AD Records-signed group, Dead Can Dance. And it's no small coup that Ovations features not only DCD's supreme percussionist/dulcimer, Peter Ulrich but also the voice of principal songwriter, Brendan Perry on two tracks ("You Never Loved This City" and "The Nightmare Goes On"). The reclusive Perry, himself, a very recent convert to Piano Magic's music was only happy to sing with a group that by his own admission, were making "the most beautiful music" he's heard for a long time.
Whether this new album is quickly consigned to a dusty drawer in the museum of musical curios like so many other Piano Magic records is yet to be seen but there's more depth, soul, variety, dynamic, romance, emotion here than many groups manage in their entire careers.
1. The Nightmare Goes On, 2. March of the Aetheists, 3. On Edge, 4. A Fond Farewell, 5. The Blue Hour, 6. Recovery Postition, 7. La Cobardia De Los Toreros, 8. You Never Loved This City, 9. The Faint Horizon, 10. Exit
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