The Magic Lantern - A World In A Grain of Sand

The Magic Lantern

A World In A Grain Of Sand

Released: June 6 2011

Genre:  Experimental Folk

Label: Hectic Eclectic Records

Rating: 4.5/5

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By Diether Scholten

The Magic Lantern just released a new album, and as if that wasn´t enough they´ve pretty much decided to release a new style of music with it. The music that accompanies this album has been labeled as “experimental folk”. Probably everyone can agree on the folk- but the experimental part can only be down to the vast comprehensiveness of the album.

The opening track, Somebody Told Me, brings a Noah and the Whale-like atmosphere to the table due to a folky cavaco and handclapping. This is contradicted by the melancholy and dream-like vocals present throughout Cut From Stone and Laura’s Song.

The Ship That Washed Away begins in a similar style as Somebody Told Me – but halfway through shades of jazz are introduced, later followed by an eruption of wild, uncontrolled avant-garde-like jazz – evoking memories of the crescendo to A Day in the Life by The Beatles.

A more calming composition is offered though Guilty Hearts, which opens with some beautiful cello-work which, again at the halfway point, bursts into a bombastic ode to percussion and the cavaco.
The Magic Lantern demonstrate their swinging diversity in Shine a Light, and deliver fast-paced guitar-jazz in Patriots.

A Man & His Dog gives a break from heavy instrumentals – as it focuses on storytelling .The Bridge is a symphonic and harmonious composition featuring the vocals of Jamie Doe, Fred Thomas, Lucy Railton and Phil Stevenson – accompanied by Dave Schulman’s clarinet, a true ode to the band.

After all this diversity the album comes to a closure with some melancholic slow-jazz in Romeo and Juliet

Well, all these different genres and styles mixed into 11 tracks makes for a joyful listening experience, but surely all the craziness will distort your regular listening pleasure? The answer is that no, it won’t. The transitions within each song – and between songs for that matter – are wonderfully composed. Despite the dynamicity of A World In A Grain of Sand it sounds as natural as your day-to-day folk.

A simple conclusion would be that The Magic Lantern really did try to put the entire world in one grain of sand. Whether or not you can handle the entire world in such a small amount of listening time is down to the listener.

The Magic Lantern – The Bridge

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In Lieu - Fuck Crz EP

In Lieu - Fuck Crz EP

In Lieu

Fuck Crz

Released: Jan 01 2011

Genre: Electronic / Experimental

Label: Unsigned

Rating: 3.9/5

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Martin Ruffin, better known as In Lieu, is the latest adopter of the swirly, utopian sound that we’ve become familiar with over the past year. The Fuck Crz EP would best be described as atmospheric electronica; voyaging through an array of musical elements in attempt to find the perfect arrangement. Comparisons have been made with the likes of M83 and Sigur Rós, there are similarities, specifically in terms of progressive tendencies and experimental instrumentals; however, Fuck Crz is an ambitious record –liberating and forward-thinking.

‘Sun’, is a suitable opener, hazy vocals overlaying a whirring, ambient backing. Ruffin isn’t only a talented producer, he’s a powerful vocalist – and he makes sure of demonstrating this at the first opportunity. ‘Halune’ transcends from ‘Sun’ without a trace, as strings overlay echoing vocals, recovering from the outbreak of emotion dispersed in the opening track. A pensive collection of percussion maintains an intricate rhythm.

Instrumental tracks are prevalent throughout the EP, but constant key changes and switches in patterns help to keep the record ever-alluring. ‘White’ uses a combination of melodic strings, pulsating drums and chimes before descending into a euphoric breakdown – a heart-warming track constructed merely through careful use of samples. ‘Euthanasia’ follows a similar pattern, free of vocals but questionably the most melodic track on the record; led by a soft-stringed riff.

‘Stala Knight’ is the stand out record of the EP – the vocals giving the track its effective punch. Layered vocals truly emphasise Ruffin’s emotion, reaching out to the listener like tears of rejoice. A combination of drawn-out samples and simplistic drums offer a minimal breakdown before bursting into life with a contagious bassline.

‘Moon’, as it would suggest, acts as the complete opposite to the opener – a suitable exit that absorbs energy from its predecessors, ending with a downbeat and somewhat melancholy finale.

From start to finish the Fuck Crz EP is effective in creating an emotive journey through an odd assortment of elements. Twists and turns throughout the record leave no signs of under-production. It’s quite impressive how the final product, a highly experimental and adventurous project at no point jars unfathomably. With the experimentation showcased throughout Fuck Crz, it would be quite possible to see In Lieu setting sights on an LP – assuming Ruffin doesn’t stray from his creativity, it’s a certainty that future releases won’t go without recognition.

– Article by James Murray

Written for The 405.

I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan

I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan

I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan

I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan

Released: Jul 2010

Genre: Electronic / Experimental

Label: Hangman Ho Records

Rating 3.9/5

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I Am A Man With a St Tropez Tan is the debut album from one of several projects created by Rick Senley. Within the first 20 seconds of listening, it becomes evident that Senley is a very inventive character, his music very much reflective of creativity, with its very experimental electronic style.

Although the album title may give little away, I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan is certainly not an up-beat record. Several tracks, such as Get Off, I Will Kill You sound suitable for a sci-fi thriller, with eerie distorted vocal samples and an intruding rhythm. It then comes as little surprise that tracks from the debut record featured on the thriller Killer Bitch, featuring Alex Reid.

Throughout the record Senley alternates between a rhythmic and a bleak experimental style. Black Female creates a spaced atmosphere, abolishing any kind of structure and placing a strong focus on unearthly synths and string samples. The more bleak and stretched-out experimental tracks often take a progressive approach, slowly drawing the listener into the assortment of juxtaposed sounds – creating a very hostile and effective overall effect. With such an array of experimental samples, Senely’s project is comparable to the likes of Aphex Twin, demonstrating his ability to create a great range of electronic music.

I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan is not strictly morbid and non-structural. Tracks such as Growl take a big-beat approach to electronic production; a Chemical Brothers style that could be appropriate for the dance floor, particularly suited to somewhere around the time of 5am. As a record, I Am A Man With A St Tropez Tan is very well produced. The general enigmatic and cinematic style results in a unique and very interesting listen, especially considering obvious financial restraints. Combining a range of electronic ideas, Rick Senley’s debut under this alias is an inspiring success.

~ Article by James Murray

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Bear In Heaven - Beast Reast Forth Mouth

Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth

Bear In Heaven

Beast Rest Forth Mouth

Released: Nov 13 2009

Genre: Post-Rock/Experimental/Indie

Label: Hometapes

Rating: 4.0/5

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Beast Rest Forth Mouth, the second full-length studio album from Bear In Heaven, has offered plenty for critics to drool over — the use of progressive, experimental vibes has resulted in a refreshing 41 minutes of highly admirable and atmospheric indie rock. The Brooklyn based four-piece, fronted by Jon Philpot, have successfully recorded an album that is consistent yet brilliant. The generally slow-paced tempo of tracks takes nothing away from the powerful effect of the album; ‘Lovesick Teenagers’ being a great example of how strong and sincere vocals along side atmospheric drum patterns can result in a highly refreshing end-product.

‘Complex’ is no adjective suited to this album, however, ’simple’ would be equally inadequate — Bear In Heaven haven’t offered anything that is new, as such; but an album that offers diversity through its varying dynamics, specifically in the vocal quarter. Philpot’s vocals remain sincere throughout, however, manage to fluctuate from the intoxicated, continuous chants of ‘Dust Cloud‘, to the choppy vocals in album opener ‘Beast In Peace‘, leading to an emphatic falsetto chorus.

The diversity of Beast Rest Forth Mouth takes it from simply being a ‘good experimental album’, to a journey; perhaps not the most exciting of the last decade, but certainly an audible adventure from a relatively unknown four-piece (certainly in Europe) that, with one release, have captured the imaginations of many. Bear In Heaven are no longer a band with potential, they’re a band that listeners and fans will be eager to hear more from in the future — be it through more studio releases or expansive touring.

~ Article by James Murray