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ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Dark Matter’ by Magician Among The Spirits

October 3, 2018

Released 2nd October 2018

 

Track Listing:

1) Protean
2) Sanctuary
3) Monster
4) Like A Work Of Art
5) Lorelei
6) The Red Hour
7) The Spaces In Between
8) Romancing The Robot
9) Fractured Effigy
10) Midnight In Kiev
11) My Apology
12) Tiamat’s Tale (Primordial Creation)

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Imagine you have an empty melting pot sitting in front of you that is just screaming (literally or not, depending on how vivid your imagination is) to have something added to it. First you take some musical influences; OMD’s first four albums, Berlin-era Bowie, early Roxy Music. Then perhaps a few sci-fi films and their respective soundtracks. And finally, a dash of something that sparkles- perhaps what you would imagine gold dust or a sprinkling of tiny gems would sound like.

Put that all together, and what do you get?

Probably something that sounds a bit like ‘Dark Matter’, the debut album release by electronic artist Christine Harrelson, aka Magician Among The Spirits. Describing herself as an ‘unmusician that hits keys and clicks buttons to make things [she likes] to listen to’, she is in possession of a particularly pretty voice that increases in depth and emotional range as the album progresses, as well as an obvious talent for penning imaginative, thought-provoking lyrics (undoubtedly a stand-out feature of her music).

The mere song titles themselves- ‘Midnight In Kiev’ and ‘Like A Work Of Art’ being my personal favourites- are enough to create a sense of intrigue before the listener has even hit play.

Although once they do, the web of mystery continues to unravel.

In terms of the music itself there’s a nice balance of pace throughout; single ‘Lorelei’ is based around the sound of eerie chiming synths that weave themselves to an unsettling conclusion, whilst ‘Monster’ and ‘Fractured Effigy’ both harness an aggression that leaves them verging on power pop.

A lot of the other tracks focus around a lyrical concept (often in relation to time, space, or any number of dimensions in between) and then tend to embroider themselves into something of a ‘tapestry of sound’, making this definitely more of an album for those who enjoy electronic ‘doodling’ as a pose to rock-solid structures and catchy choruses. For many though, this will be a good thing, and as an overall body of work ‘Dark Matter’ is pleasant and refreshing to listen to.

In short, all you really have to do is look at the album artwork (the Kandinsky painting ‘Movement I’ from 1935) in order to understand what this album is all about. It is relatively abstract, almost-playful at times, but underneath the seemingly impish exterior, there are powerful, often dark themes underpinning it all.

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