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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Piano Magic
Opencast Heart EP
Important! Records

Rating: 6/10 ?


May 27, 2005
Piano Magic's fledgling Popular Mechanics was imbued with all the innocence of a child teaching himself a nursery rhyme. Successive efforts have since spawned a more doleful disposition, what with adolescents such as "Low Birth Weight" cutting their teeth on the broken glass of skewed childhood memories. With Opencast Heart, Glen Johnson's camp shy away from the effete school of indie-electronica and craft an engaging collection of homespun glitch assemblages, fostered by an aspiration to unfetter electronic composition from the dead, airless clutches of the computer processor.

With purposeful hermeticism and ephemeral poetics, pieces such as "Echoes on Ice" and "This Heart Machinery", conjure expansive resonances from a humble palette of oscillators and manipulations, forging a densely striated corridor of sound that invokes the feel of secret rituals conducted in private.

The following four works retain Piano Magic's manic, hyper-detailed texture, but supplement organic sounds in place of freshly generated ones. Akin to recent work by artists such as Rosy Parlane and Alvo Noto - though in a much more song-based setting - the pensive beats unfold like feet shuffling through knee-high snow banks while slithering through timbre explorations, where sympathetic frequencies mimic whirling winds.

Amid these subtle, unhurried unfolding of events, Glen Johnson plants his soft-spoken, poetic musings on relationships that now lay like fallow fields and the difficulty of trying to prolong the past indefinitely without being consumed. Pelted by shimmering static with the dull crunch of snow underfoot, Johnson's muffled voice ventures wary steps through a tunnel of rumbling railcar rattles and grinding gears, bemoaning, "I walked home alone, opening the air with bolshy, slurred dictums against religion, ethics, love and life itself." The tracks low-end drone set against Johnson's exposed murmur and minimal backing, unfolding in loose, flowing structures, and fostering an immediate, almost unnerving experience.

Such songs are interspersed with more oblique pieces - brief experiments with gently colliding fists of static and melody. In such moments, keyboard passages are manipulated, squeezed and muted, transforming the mechanistic renderings of half-forgotten tunes into a series of encrypted memories.

This is where Piano Magic finds a distinctive disclosure: weaving murky atmospheres alongside funeral tempos, and morphing grave moods into concrete messages; both aid in the retrieval of suppressed memories. Though at moments the music suffers for being almost too self-effacing, it mostly bears up to such deep investigation. One may imagine these compositions as four retrieved photographs of personal projections generated during childhood's games, all gathered under an incommensurable shadow of heartbreaking awareness; Opencast Heart won't stop swallowing the few remains of the time when believed abundantly, and are now in fear of having wasted.

Reviewed by Max Schaefer
Nocturnal qualms and eyes that brim like lamps betoken slender sketches, poetry and short stories strewn alongside piano playing, a fiddling of knobs and murmured dialogue with a medley of electronic gizmo\'s. A twenty-one year old person lodged within the University of Victoria, Max harvests organic sounds on a sullen sampler, watching water unwind like two broad lengths of ribbon and nursing a book below the canopy of a cheery-tree. Max believes that the world is made present by people\'s presence in it and that art is one such way in which a distinctive disclosure might be crafted.

See other reviews by Max Schaefer

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