nedjelja, 22. srpnja 2012.

Young Magic - Melt

Review of Melt

Australsko-indonezijski trio. Želatinozno-psihodelični shoegaze koji ne bi odskakao da nije nekoliko jako dobrih pjesama, pomalo jezovitih na rubovima.

"Formed in New York but comprising no NYC natives (instead: a pair of Australians and an Indonesian), Young Magic are an intriguing proposition before a note of this debut album has been heard. And just as their appearance is rather awry of what might be deemed ‘typical’ of an outfit looking to break out of the Big Apple, their music is similarly striking: the influence of myriad acts has been stirred into a sound that’s rarely anything but its makers’ own.
It’s hard to pin Melt down to precise parallels – as its title so curtly conveys, the lines that frame each inspirational cornerstone have come undone. The end product flirts with rap but crackles with a lo-fi looseness; thinks of itself as a companion to Brainfeeder’s out-there fare, but gets distracted into lassoing guitar motifs from the west coast of Africa; and muddles its way from A to B like Panda Bear blinded in a fog, only to cut into clarity with no warning. Yeasayer and MGMT serve as ‘ins’ for those needing established acts to open doors for them; but the best way to experience Melt is to sink into it shorn of expectations. Here, the listener can really let the bubbling melodies, chanted mantras and delicious textures take hold. And once bitten, it’s unlikely Melt will let go of one’s attentions soon.
Sparkly opens with a gentle chorus of crisp guitars and ethereal vocals; come the drums, it’s a different track completely, and that Yeasayer comparison grips tightly. But then Melt finds another gear, Slip Time a cavalcade of instrumental shrieks, haunted moans and lyricism that might qualify as confrontational if you could be sure of what was being said. HEALTH at half-speed, possessed by chilling spectres, it’s a track to bolt a man upright in his seat. Night in the Ocean is the fulcrum upon which the set rests, a great four minutes which dares to encapsulate everything brilliant about this collection. Slurred raps, like a beat poet racked by drink addiction; music that waxes and wanes, and explodes; and a great spirit which, rather than confine itself to basements and bedsits, aims its sights on the heavens. It’s got a healthy dose of My Bloody Valentine to it which, partnered with the rap elements, might have some recalling the heavyweight hip hop of New Jersey’s Dälek – no bad thing, at all.
But, throughout, there’s no concern that these three – Isaac, Michael and Melati – aren’t being true to themselves and whatever vision first possessed them to create this music together. Sure, Melt wears stripes that other creatures prowling the margins of the mainstream have been seen to sport; but these are singular in their direction, unique in their pattern. This is a discernibly different beast from any aforementioned acts of convenient comparison – from a distance, sure, it has its similarities, but zoom in and it’s an exquisite new breed to behold. - Mike Diver

"Some records are defined by the time and place of their creation, but Young Magic's piecemeal approach has the opposite effect. It doesn't sound like it came from a certain somewhere, but rather everywhere. And it's a surprisingly cohesive work considering that it was recorded in several different countries and sutured together from singles and B-sides that have been around since 2010. So yeah, Melt-- that's a great word for Young Magic's debut, but "blur," "smear," or "dissolve" would also be acceptable.
I suppose it goes without saying that Melt might inadvertently align itself with hyphenated genres many of you are looking to conscientiously avoid. It's a reductive, but not completely off-base, assumption. Sure, these tracks are underpinned by West African rhythms ("The Dancer"), Brainfeeder's non-quantized drum smacks ("Sanctuary"), and the stutters of dubstep ("Drawing Down the Moon"). But for all of the trio's globe-trotting origins (two are Australian ex-pats, one is a native Indonesian, and all have traveled to multiple continents), there's an introversion and physical distance which bring to mind kids looking for the perfect beat while hunched over samplers and laptops in their apartments.
But while the reverb is ample and the edges are soft, it's a choice more functional than fashionable, a conscious production decision to solder together disparate sounds into a textured whole. The rare times they're present, guitars are tremeloed and processed to sound like balalaikas as opposed to chorded instruments, and while the melodies are often pumped out by harsh, exaggerated synths, the percussion most often takes the tone of household objects-- rattling coins on "Sparkly", pitched water jugs on "Slip Time", alarm clocks and cell phones elsewhere.
It's a cushy listen, if not only always distinctive, particularly since the shorter tracks often amount to a cooled, deep-blue gelatin that holds the previously released singles together. But those three tracks instantly stand out less because of their familiarity and more because it's where Young Magic really leans into the listener rather than kicking back. Aggression isn't really their game, so the chain-gang lurch of "Sparkly" effectively starts Melt on a slowly menacing opening note, while the warped war chant of "You With Air" undergoes subtle digital damage that gives it tonal ambivalence. The centerpiece "Night in the Ocean" has a fairly self-explanatory title, but an accurate one-- at once pulverizing and pristine, it's an HD stunner amidst mostly Hipstamatic surrounding. These are also the best showcases for the interplay of Young Magic's vocalists: Melati Malay's coo flutters and glides as more of a shoegazey texture than a vessel for communication, and while certainly not as pretty, Isaac Emmanuel has something of a wounded half-rap that's ultimately more distinctive. Particularly when they trade off stoned mutters and airy ecstasy on "Night in the Ocean", you could imagine Salem, had they formed during the best semester abroad ever.
But Melt can just as easily be seen as pragmatic, offering solutions to questions left unanswered by some of the more disappointing trajectories taken by fellow indie psych travelers who once called NYC home: Are you a Yeasayer fan who instantly felt buyer's remorse the moment "The Children" introduced the wonky electro boondoggle Odd Blood? Wished High Places still sounded as, well, high as they did on their EPs? Just wanna see Here We Go Magic underwater? Melt has got your back. But those comparisons are every bit as useful for contrast-- you could get a sense of these bands' personalities beyond the manner in which they arranged their sounds, and it's tougher to parse what Young Magic have to say. Are Young Magic hippies? Naive adventurers? Shut-ins obsessed with looping pedals? Melt conjures these admirable comparisons while avoiding any sort of concrete answer, but ultimately Young Magic can aspire to more by letting us know where they're coming from in a figurative sense." - Ian Cohen

"Whoever posited that “it’s not the destination, but the journey” never heard chillwave. That most mellow of modern genres eschews most hallmarks of traditional songcraft in favor of gooey, often aimless texture wrought by synthesizers, drum machines, and shy vocalists. It’s psychedelic elevator music, and nobody takes the elevator to revel in the ride. But as that sound’s original architects (Washed Out, Neon Indian, Toro Y Moi) move on to Balearic beats or full bands, a new breed of Nü Age drifter arrives. Brooklyn’s Young Magic, a.k.a. Aussie-born Isaac Emmanuel and his compatriots, joins artists like Small Black and Raleigh Moncrief in recognizing the crossover potential between chillwave and hip-hop production.
Young Magic’s full-length debut, Melt, touts thick bass synths, head-knock percussion, handclaps galore, and dusty samples (children frolicking, mbiras tinkling, static crackling) apparently inspired directly by Flying Lotus. And Emmanuel does his peers one better: On slinky bangers like “You With Air” and “Night In The Ocean” he even raps, adopting a breathy swagger to drop characteristically dreamy couplets like, “You’re a phenomena / stars of Andromeda.” There’s even an R&B lilt to the latter’s chorus, and a bassline almost certainly cribbed from some Shai song.
But as fresh as those songs feel, and as fun as burbling beat meditations like “Watch For Our Lights” are, Melt doesn’t avoid every pitfall of its freaky phylum. Emmanuel’s words are rarely discernible, and tracks like “Sparkly” wow with moody vibe and celestial breadth, but end in a similar haze instead of finding purchase at some new summit. There’s also a glut of ideas; Emmanuel recorded these songs using friends’ instruments while on a spirit quest spanning at least 10 countries, which is reflected in the dense jumble of colors and textures. It’s the view of the nomad in action, rather than a carefully curated selection of highlights upon his return. While Melt is a fine stop-off, LP number two is the day-tripper’s best hope for an actual destination." - Chris Martins

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