Thursday, October 1, 2009
Review: Deep Magic - Balance c20 (2009)
Deep Magic is the solo project of Alex Gray, the every instrument he can get his hands on-ist of left coast psychedelic/spiritual/jazz/improv collective Dream Colour. This will be the first upcoming release of his (which he has graciously allowed me to share) and no doubt points to a bright future path of a talented artist from a very promising musician's collective.
The ethos of this tape is not far off from Alex's other work; it is most definitely a nod to the cosmos and the intangible kind of "spiritual" ether around us. However, the means of achieving it are much different. Whereas Dream Colour often gets to these ends through communal improvisation, slow crescendos and the often cacophonous blending of horn skronks, tribal percussion and instrument call and response, Deep Magic plows its way to inner harmony with more minimal soundscapes and deep, lulling introspection.
The first side of this c20 starts off somewhere between an organ and a computer, slowly belching out atonal progressions until it reaches a sort of equilibrium with intersecting synth pads playing sustained drones. It feels more like his previous work when you hear the uptempo percussion jump in, but the ryhmtic keyboard lines and repetitive drumming build more of a contemplative soundscape that is content to just let things be rather then constantly moving towards a destination. Distorted voices lend a human element to the milieu before heavy low end sounds draw out the close of this piece.
The low ends continue at the beginning of side b as a similar rythmic line is played out on the keys, propped up by a low volume growling drone. A looped high end note repeatedly treads over the growing synth fuzz, creating the aural illusion of a choir in praise rising up to take center stage. As the end grows closer, heavy droning strings cut through the dense fog of the track before a lonely harmonica signals the end of the tape.
To this listener, the first Deep Magic tape finds a balance between the new age electronic world and that of simpler and more primitive instruments. It is content to provide meditative sound drapes without pushing the listener in any direction, but in no means does it do so with a lack of urgency. The idea is that the futuristic and the primitive can be reconciled. They can work together in the form of music as worship, as this tape certainly displays.
I'm not exactly sure what label this tape is being released on (EDIT: it will be released on Belgian label, zaagmachien), but you can find more info at:
www.deepmagik.com (coming soon)
This tape is simply a starting point, but it is a very solid one. According to the myspace you're going to see and hear a lot more from this exciting project, including a split with High Wolf on Not Not Fun (which coincidentally put out two of my favorite tapes of the year by both Dream Colour and Mr. Wolf) and a huge c90 on moondial.
Be sure to check out Alex's and his band's sites and the labels. Grab a tape if you can, see a show or hell, if you're in LA and you have the means, help him book a show.
For now, though:
Free download of unreleased Deep Magik c20, "Balance"