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This is the second time The Magus have been our cd of the week and their somewhat meandering and organic experiments have been tidied up and taken a new course of blissful pop. But fear not, space cowboys! They still maintain a huge dollop of the meandering psychedelia that attracted me to them in the first place.
The Magus are Robin Stone and Harvey O'Sullivan and they originally played together in psych-rock band Froghollow in the small town of Wingello, south of Sydney. According to the bio, 'their sound has evolved over the years, from the early days of psychedelic guitar wanderings…to heavy industrial tracks in the vein of Einsturzende Neubauten…to the sound they seemed to have settled on for the last few years – their own brand of shoegazing – where the guitars are thick and hazy, vocals are whispered and buried and drums form the backbone around which everything moves.'
Well said! That pretty much sums up these four new songs from The Magus but it's only really the first one 'Silver Lines' that is given the full 'shoegaze' pop treatment complete with 90s tremolo guitar, polite and melodic Peter Hook-style bass, a similar New Order-style solo and a female vocal reprising the chorus in the last quarter of the song.
Now these Magusovians couldn't help themselves from falling into the sleepyhead pit of loose love-in music and the remaining three songs start heading back to the familiar territory of laidback space rock. 'Erewhon2' is a slow stomper that builds up into a compelling groove. 'Fertile' has a fantastic rubbery guitar sound, like a round and shiny guitar ball being ping-ponged from side to side. The last song 'The Sea…' has the classic bedroom vocal – where the singing is so quiet it sounds like he doesn't want to wake the sleeping neighbour.
One half of The Magus currently lives in Sydney's inner west and the other half still lives in Wingello and they come together semi-regularly to record and jam with their 'live' drummer Jacqueline McCue. Good stuff! - ND