Monday, February 23, 2009

Review: Here We Go Magic - Here We Go Magic (* * * *)

Indie folk artist Luke Temple is unveiling his third album, recorded under the moniker Here We Go Magic, tomorrow, February 24th. The record marks a dramatic departure from Temple's previous folk sound into a darker, more experimental realm of pop music. According to his bio, he recorded the album by himself in his Brooklyn home with analog synths and a cassette 4 track which gives a warm, worn sound to his complex rhythms and subtle instrumental flourishes. The record is unexpected and often bizarre, but always fascinating.

As I listen to the album, the nine tracks seemed to be divided into three groups or parts. The first four tracks are one group, the second four are somehow connected, and then the last song seems to be in a world of its own. At least, that's the only way I'm able to make sense of what's going on. "Only Pieces" opens things up with a layered, synthesized rhythm and scattered guitar lines that slowly build behind Temple's hypnotic voice which blends smoothly into the music. The following three tracks are something like variations upon that same theme. "Fangala" explores an eerie, almost danceable groove, "Ahab" rocks a funky bass line through a haunting maze of vocals and synths, and "Tunnelvision" bounces subtly along on digital percussion and the phrase 'anything is possible' repeated quickly and quietly in the background.

While the entire album is full of Temple's unique and strange ideas, it's during tracks five through eight that things really get odd. Whereas the first half of the record is certainly unusual, the music has some familiar elements and contains enough substance that tracks can at least be recognized as songs. Starting with the subtle wash of fuzz and static on "Ghost List," the album takes a four-song detour into sonic textures, minute details, and waves of noise. "I Just Want to See You Underwater" features bleeps and bloops, some simple guitar, and faint vocals repeating the track's title, which are the only vocals you'll find in this section of the record. The other two tracks contain more layers of unrecognizable noise and weird sounds that challenge the idea of what you might actually consider music.

Stuck at the end of the record is the flamboyant "Everything's Big," the most straightforward and 'normal' track of the bunch. Temple lets his fantastic tenor voice soar above much more organic instrumentation as he decries greed, corruption, and gluttony. It's the last bizarre twist in an album that is defined by them and the whole project takes some getting used to. I'll admit that I was disappointed at first with the middle section of the record. After being immediately impressed with the first four songs, everything else just seemed frustrating and unnecessarily complicated. After some time, I've found the beauty in even the most abstract moments, though I still find myself wishing there was more substance here.

Those hoping for an indie folk album will only be half-satisfied with Here We Go Magic, but for those who can exercise some patience and keep an open mind, the music reveals itself in time to be very magical indeed.


theneedledrop said...

It felt like this record could never stay in one spot, to me, but it's still really great.

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