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Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: FLOCK OF DIMES-Tiny Desk Concert #246 (August 10, 2021).

Flock of Dimes is a fun band name.  It’s the solo project of Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner (I thought Wye Oak was a solo project as well–no, it’s a duo).  [Gee, why wasn’t Andy Stack invited to this sing along?]

For this Home Concert, the solo project turns huge with nine people sitting around having a big ol’ sing along (I’ll assume they are all vaccinated and that this was filmed before Delta took off).

The setup is pretty simple: three guitars (I love that the guys on the couch are lefty (Michael Libramento, baritone guitar) and righty (Alan Good Parker, tenor guitar) so it looks appealingly symmetrical). some percussion and a lot of voices (the men on the right of the screen seems somewhat less invested).

The friends who are singing along include the three singers from Mountain Man: Amelia Randall Meath, Molly Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig.  Meath is also in Sylvan Esso and her bandmate Nick Sanborn is also present (he’s one of the less invested men).  The set is filmed at Sylvan Esso’s new studio in Durham, N.C., called Betty’s.

“Two” is a bouncy number with lots of percussion.  I like the way the backing singers join in from time to time, but not constantly–it introduces new voices throughout.

One of the invested men is percussionist Matthew McCaughan from Bon Iver–he’s got a full complement of instruments at hand.  Joe Westerland (from Megafaun) is the other percussionist, he’s just a bit more subtle in his actions, but you can see him gently tapping through “Two.”

“Price of Blue” is a little slower but it has a wonderful melody.  The harmonies really standout on this song.

I don’t know the originals of these songs, but I have to assume the blurb is correct

These acoustic performances actually shed new light, thanks to radiant and radically different arrangements, while fully capturing the warmth we look for from Tiny Desk concerts.

Whatever the case, the backing vocals are tremendous.  You can really hear Molly Sarlé’s gorgeous harmony vocals.

“Awake For The Sunrise” feels like an old fashioned fire side sing along.  I’ve enjoyed Wye Oak’s music but I don’t know it very well.  I rather like Wassner’s delivery here–but i feel like these songs might not be as good without these harmonies!

[READ: August 12, 2021] New Teeth

I’m guessing that Simon Rich had a baby.

This collection of stories is loaded with stories about little kids.  And that’s all right because he has a very funny take on being a parent.

The other stories tackle the corporate environment and are full of fish-out-of-water stories.

“Learning the Ropes” is about being a new parent.  But it is written from the point of view of two pirates. And hilarity ensues.

What’s odd to me is that in his first books, his stories were really short, but I feel like lately his stories have gotten much longer–sometimes too long.  This one in particular kind of dragged at times, because it’s pretty much a one-note joke: what? pirates raising a little girl?!  One pirate is a concerned parent which means he wants them both to care about the child.  It’s got a few very funny moments, and of course, when the pirates who speak in pirate style (“The only man I trust is me first mate”) say things like “Arr… it be called ‘limit testing.’ She be acting out because she be craving discipline,” well, that’s classic Simon Rich right there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKBARTEES STRANGE-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #172 (February 22, 2021). 

WXPN has been playing the song “Boomer” a lot.  I really like it–it’s super catchy and fun.  I hadn’t heard anything else by him, so I was delighted to see he had a Tiny Desk Concert.

Bartees Strange and his band are in a basement, surrounded by electrical wiring and DIY sound-proofing, but also green plants that no doubt have names. In Falls Church, Va., the indie rocker is a stone’s throw from the much-missed Tiny Desk space in D.C., yet offers a set just as cozy and crammed.

And he starts it right off with “Boomer” which is just so catchy, with that slinky bass line from John Daise and that outrageously catchy chorus.  Dan Kleederman plays the guitar leads throughout while keyboardist Graham Richman plays rhythm.

The rest of his set proves that musically he is open to anything:

hip-hop bombast meets sprawling indie-rock riffs and mind-numbing electronic beats. “Sonically it doesn’t make sense,” Bartees Strange told NPR Music, “but it makes sense because it’s me and I think that’s like an important part of music – the person.”

For “Mustang” Richman hands Bartees his guitar and plays keyboard instead.  He says that Mustang is about where he grew up–Mustang, Oklahoma.  This time Bartees plays the pretty guitar riffs and Kleeederman adds slide guitar.

For his Tiny Desk, Bartees Strange keeps the bluesy rock and roll bravado of “Boomer” and the loping smooveness of “Mustang,” stripping down the drum kit to include a sheet music stand as an extra cymbal.

He answers the question of what has inspired him this year by saying he has been trying not not to pay too much attention to the transition, so he’s been focusing on music.  He loves Yves Tumor’s Heaven for a Tortured Mind. And Aaron Dessner for being the Indie rock Michael Jordan.

It’s in the back half where Bartees Strange does the switch-up, as “In A Cab” flows seamlessly into “Flagey God.” On record, these are louder and noisier songs that explore very different sides of his 20-sided die, but here, they become laid-back jazz club jams, deceptive in their ease, but beautifully ornate as the arrangements open up to his world.

“In A Cab” opens with a quiet but cool drum pattern from Carter Zumtobel and a sweet combination of guitar lines.  It segues quietly into “Flagey God” a more mellow song that has a great catchy guitar riff.

I’m going to have to check out the whole album.

[READ: April 15, 2021] Under the Pendulum Sun

I’m not sure how I heard about this book, but I saw a rave review and it inspired me to actually buy the book, sight unseen.  I didn’t realize the book was put out by Angry Robot, a publisher I have been recently introduced to and which publishes esoteric and unusual fiction, that seems to have a religious aspect.

So this fit right in.

This is a long book and it is written in an old style–slightly formal with lots of biblical components.  The writing at times felt stiff, but not unreadable.  And, this is the weirdest part, I simultaneously felt like the book was moving too slow and yet I felt like I was flying through the chapters.

Each chapter opens with an epigram.  Most of them are fictitious but there are some from real authors and these may or may not be real quotes.

The book opens with Catherine Helstone talking about how she and her brother Laon (how in the heck do you say that?  It plagued me for the whole book) grew up fantasizing about new worlds.  But neither one of the ever fantasized about Arcadia, the land of the Fae.

Now that they are older, her brother has left for Arcadia to become a Christian missionary–to convert the souls of the Fae–if they can even be converted.  Several years later, Catherine has now set off to find him.  She has a ship and his compass in hand. But the key to reaching Arcadia is to get hopelessly lost and then the entrance will appear.

Neat. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: THE REDNECK MANIFESTO-The How (2018).

Despite a terrible name that would keep me away from wanting to see them, The Redneck Manifesto are a very interesting and complicated band.  I discovered them through the book of Irish drummers.  TRM drummer Mervyn Craig is in the book.

The How is the band’s fifth album (and first in eight years).  The album is chock full of instrumentals that touch all genres of music.

There are jazzy elements, dancey elements and rock elements.  There are solos (but never long solos) and jamming sections.  Most of the songs are around 4 minutes long with a couple running a little longer.

“Djin Chin” has jangly chords and quiet riffs that switch to a muted melody.  All the while the bass is loping around.  It shifts tempos three times in the first two minutes.  Around three minutes the bass takes over the lead instrument pushing the song along with deep notes.

“The Rainbow Men” has a circular kind of riff with swirling effects that launch the song during the musical pauses.  After a minute and a half it drastically shifts direction and the adds in a cool solo.

“Sip Don’t Gulp” starts with a catchy bouncy guitar riff and bass lines.  At two minutes it too shifts gears to a staggered riff that sounds great.

“Kobo” is the shortest song and seems to tell a melodic story.  The two guitars play short, fast rhythms as call and response while the bass rumbles along.

“Head Full of Gold” is over 6 minutes with a thumping bass, rumbling drums and soft synths.  “No One” is nearly 7 minutes and feels conventionally catchy until you try to keep up with the beats.  After a middle series of washes from various instruments, the back half is a synthy almost dancey rhythm.

“Sweep” is a pretty song until the half-way mark when it just takes off in a fury of fast drumming and complex chords.  The end builds in upward riding notes until it hits a calming ending

“We Pigment” is a poppy staccato dancey number.  The second half turns martial with a series of four beat drum patterns and a soaring guitar solo.  More staccato runs through to the end.  “The Underneath Sun” also has a lot of staccato–fast guitar notes interspersed with bigger chords.  The end of the song is just littered with sweeping guitar slides until the thumping conclusion.

This album is great and I’m looking forward to exploring their other releases.

[READ: January 10, 2021] A History of Ireland in 100 Words

This book looks at old Irish words–how they’ve evolved and how they show the way Irish history came about.  The authors say:

our store of words says something fundamental about us and how we think.  This book is meant to provide insights into moments of life that may be otherwise absent from history books.  The focus is on Gaelic Ireland throughout as Gaelic was the native language of the majority of the inhabitants of the island for the last 2000 years. It yielded its primacy to English only in the last 150 years.

We selected words with the aim of illustrating each of our themes as broadly as possible.  We wanted the words in all their richness to tell their story … like how the word that originally meant noble came to mean cheaper (saor).

Almost all of the entries reference The cattle raid of Cooley (The Ulster Cycle) which features the hero Cú Chulainn.  This story is at the heart of most of historical Ireland and it’s pretty fascinating how many of these Gaelic words either originate with that story or get their foundation from the story.

There’s a general pronunciation guide although I wish each word had a phonetic guide because anyone who speaks English will look at Irish a if it is just a jumble of nonsensical consonants.

The book is broken down into sections, although the authors insist that there is no correct way to read the book.

  • Writing and Literature
  • Technology and Science
  • Food and Feasting
  • The Body
  • Social Circles
  • Other Worlds
  • War and Politics
  • A Sense of Place
  • Coming and Going
  • Health and Happiness
  • Trade and Status
  • Entertainment and Sport
  • The Last Word

There are also delightfully weird wood carving-like drawings from by Joe McLaren scattered throughout the book.

The words are listed below with either a definition or an interesting anecdote included. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BLUE AEROPLANES-“Veils of Colour” (1987).

In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate.

The Blue Aeroplanes have been around forever, forming in 1981 and releasing their most recent album in 2017.  I feel like I’ve heard of them, but I’m not sure now.  I guess I’ve never actually heard them as this didn’t sound familiar at all.   Nor does the core lineup: the mainstays are Gerard Langley, brother John Langley, and dancer Wojtek Dmochowski.  Their wikipedia pages lists about 90 other people who have played on their records.

“Veils of Colour” opens with a quiet guitar riff that, surprisingly, progresses rather than repeats.  It’s a quiet song and when the lyrics come in, they’re mostly spoken in an almost excitable whisper.  You can certainly see why they appealed to Stuart Murdoch.

The chorus is almost sung, but the addition of horns makes the it swell beyond what you’d expect from the verses.  Indeed, the song has a kind of understated urgency, but never gets very intense.

[READ: January 24 2021] “Hansa and Gretyl and Piece of Shit”

This story was peculiar for many reasons.  Obviously the title shows that this is a twist on a familiar story.  But, wow, does it veer off form what you might expect (just as the title does).

Gretyl is a girl in high school.  She wakes with terrible stomach cramps–not the “normal” cramps a girl might feel, but something far worse.  Her mother believes she is faking because she feels like a loser at school.

She walks to school and sees a man at the bottom of the hill.  His car seems to be constantly broken and he regularly asks Gretyl for help–a scrunchie to fix his carburetor, a paper clip to connect his fan belt (she gave him one from her paper, and her teacher changed her grade from an A to a B- because it had no fastener).  Today he asks her to steer while he pushes.  When his car is free, he gives her a whistle. If you need help, blow it, maybe we’ll come.

Gretyl’s family is strapped for cash. Although her father has a yacht and her mother has expensive jewelry–they don’t seem to have money to buy new things.

Gretyl’s mother resents her: Gestating you destroyed my metabolism.  Now I can’t practice medicine (she does not mention that the mother bore Gretyl at forty). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PJ MORTON-Tiny Desk Concert #120 (December 2, 2020).

PJ Morton did a Tiny Desk Concert back in 2018 and he won me over musically (although I didn’t love his voice).

If we invite artists to return to the Tiny Desk, we ask that they do something completely different from their first show. For PJ Morton, the obvious shift would’ve been to come solo. After all, he defied the laws of space back in 2018 and managed to squeeze 14 bodies behind the Desk. This time around he’s just as generous with the spotlight, but puts a new focus on gospel.

Gathered in a big airy space in his hometown of New Orleans, PJ and his band performed three selections from the now Grammy-nominated The Gospel According To PJ, his very first gospel album. He grew up playing gospel music, but chose secular music as his professional path. The album brings him back full circle, a journey mapped out in conversations on the album with his father, Bishop Paul S. Morton.

I like the sound of gospel, although lyrically I’m not that interested in it.  I’m also not that keen on his guest vocalists.

PJ only sings lead on one song but is clearly the maestro for this Tiny Desk (home) concert.

I like that the guests appear on TV screens in the middle of the room.

They open with the reggae-infused “So In Love,” featuring Darrel Walls and Zacardi Cortez.

This song opens with the standard reggae drum fill from Ed Clark before the reggae guitar of Shemaiah Turner and bass of Brian Cockerham join the trumpets from John Perkins and Stephen Lands and saxophones of Tajh Derosier and Brad Walker.

Darrel Walls sings first; Zacardi Cortez has an interesting raspy style of singing.  But I am far more interested in the backing singers who sound fantastic: Tiondria Norris, Jarell Bankston and Ashton Fortner Francis.

The song slows way down to just some lovely horns and piano as the song segues into the very religious song “All In His Plan.”  Morton sings this one and again, I love the backing singers.

The set closes with “Repay You,” featuring J Moss.

I’ve also never heard of him.  He’s got a Stevie Wonder kind of delivery.   I really don’t like the grace notes that he uses, but when he tells PJ to “let him be intimate” and he sings quietly it sounds really nice.  Morton’s piano is also really good.

[READ: December 30, 2020] “Acting Class” 

In 2019, the New Yorker experienced a cartoon takeover issue.  The same has happened to end 2020.  There are many many cartoons in it, including this excerpt from a Drawn & Quarterly.

I don’t know Nick Drasno’s work.  At first I thought it looked a lot like Chris Ware (lots of detail).  But Drasno’s people look very different from Ware’s.  Drasno’s people are realistic but with very limited line work–he conveys a lot with just a few lines.

This story opens in a car–there’s a neat moment in an early panel where he has light fall on one of the characters to show movement–a simple but elegant touch.  They are driving from the city to the middle of nowhere to go to an acting seminar. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AND THE KIDS-When This Life Is Over (2019).

I’ve seen And the Kids twice and they put on a fantastic live show.  I highly recommend seeing them when live shows start again. 

The core of the band is Hannah Mohan on guitar and vocals and Rebecca Lasaponaro on (fantastic) drums.  For this record they were a four piece (although no names are included on the disc).

“No Way Sit Back” starts the record with a slow swinging song that features the wonderful wordless hook of Mohan singing “oooh oh oh no.” Midway through, the song shifts gears to a kind of glockenspiel melody over the lyrics “the world is never made for us.”  Even though lyrically this album is dark, musically it is really lovely.

“Butterfingers” lopes along at an unusual pace before a really catchy guitar melody kicks in midway through.  There’s some more catchy melodies as the two vocals line intertwine with each other.  Then comes “Champagne Ladies” a remarkably catchy song right from the get go.  The quietly rumbling guitar and the great vocal melody is nicely mimicked by the bass.  It’s a really fantastic song and should have been a big hit, even with the uplifting chorus: “life is a bastard, it wants to kill you don’t let go.”  But if the lyrics are too dark, there’s another fun wordless “ah ah ah” melody near the end.    

“2003” opens with a penny whistle introduction (when I saw them live, Mohan played the whistle and then just tossed it aside before she started singing).  There’s some excellent unusual and complex drumming at the top of this song. 

“The Final Free” has grooving guitars and a cool part in the middle where the guitar follows the vocal line in a quiet but catchy melody.  “When This Life Is Over” has a kind of hawaiian feel to it with guitars and choral vocals.   “Special For Nothing” is a quieter song that builds into a gorgeous soaring chorus. When the song shifts to the middle part and the music all falls back except for the vocals, it’s really quite lovely.  I love when the backing vocals do counterpoint over the refrain

“Get To That Place” is a short song, less than two minutes and sounds like a bedroom recording (lots of hiss) but as the song gets bigger there’s some cool vocal tricks (so much soaring highs) and glockenspiel.  It’s followed by another short song.  The mellow “Somethings (Are) Good” is just over two minutes with more overlapping vocals and a dynamite melody. 

“White Comforters” sounds bigger and more full sized.  It’s much slower with a bouncy guitar melody and a lot of spare playing. It starts a little too quietly but it builds very nicely.  “Religion” brings back the rocking guitars with a loud opening and a simple but catchy guitar melody, the joyous vocals with two layers of oh ho ho s really makes this song soar to glorious heights.

The disc ends with “Basically We Are Dead” a longer song that opens with a quieter guitar melody and vocal.  Atmospheric keys fill in the backing moments along with a bouncy synth melody and some joyful bah bah bahdahs.  But before the song ends, some familiar chugging guitar chords enter the song and they sing the chorus to “Champagne Ladies” one last time before it’s all over.

And the Kids play wonderful indie pop with plenty of unexpected twists.  And they are terrific live, too.

[READ: November 5, 2020] The Divided Earth

This is the final book in the The Nameless City trilogy.

The book opens with the leaders of the city agreeing that their sacred fire, Napatha, must be destroyed, lest it be used by one of the splintering factions.  But one copy of the recipe spared–given to the monks to hide for as long as was necessary.

Then we flash forward.

Kaidu is sitting with Rat and the others, resting up for what’s to come.

We see Mura, the woman who was abandoned by the monks as a little girl, receiving that copy of the book from the monks (they are hesitant).  She has every intention of learning the formula and creating the Napatha again. She imagines giving the formula to all of the other Dao generals for maximum production against the Yisun.  But Ezri, who has forcibly put himself in charge of the Dao people, wants to keep it under wraps.  Being a treacherous person, he anticipates treachery from everyone else as well.

The Yisun army is marching on the city.  Ezri hopes to have the Napataha ready to use against them.  He has just enough to show how powerful it is.  And it has the desired effect.

When Rat and Kaidu see what happened, Kaidu announces that he is going to steal the book from Mura’s clutches.  How?  Well, that’s where most of this book’;s adventure comes in.  It’s clever and stealthy and very exciting with switches and crosses and trouble everywhere.  They even get help from their minstrek friends (it’s always nice to see minor characters come back). 

At the same time, Kaidu’s parents (Kata and Andren) are (unbeknownst to Kadi and Rat) planning to negotiate with the Yisun army to save the city  Kata explains that she is in charge of the Dao tribe Liuvedao and she is no friend to the Dao regime currently ruling.

The soldier in charge of the Yisun army scoffs at this idea.  Until Kata’s secret weapon (which she didn’t know she had) steps forward and explains why the Yisun leader might want to hear them out. Kata proposes an dambush on the city, using an equal amount of Kata’s forces and the Yisum army. 

None of the attacking plans go smoothly.  Rat and Kaidu face very difficult odds (and many soldiers) and the ambush team literally walks into a dead end and needs to be rerouted through a sewer tunnel (ew).

There is a terrific showdown between Rat and Mura, two women whose lives began in a similar way but who took very different paths. And there are many many pages of battle scenes.  Hicks does a great job of keeping the action exciting and clear, with lots of one one one combat as well as an army of warriors.

The story has an epilogue set three years later, which is fun. It’s neat to see Kadi and Rat grows up some, although I could have used a dozen more pages of epilogue to see what things are like now.  And to see them catch up (there’s no Facetime back then). 

But even so, this was a great series, full of excitement and very emotional moments,.

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SOUNDTRACK: MAGIC SWORD-Endless (2020).

Not long after the release of the Awakening EP, Magic Sword is back to conclude the story arc that the previous albums have created.

The Keeper (red, keyboard, audio-visual), The Seer (blue, guitar), and The Weaver (yellow, drums) are Immortal and they have seen a story like this one unfold many times.  So they are not surprised by the direction it goes in.

“Depths of Power” opens this chapter with a slow pulsing matched with occasional power chords.  “Invincible” adds a new sound palette to the band’s music.  This song sounds a bit more like Tangerine Dream but with some more contemporary techno type sounds.

“Aftermath” adds some swirling uneasy sounds to the album.  It contains curlicues of sound that wiggle around and segue into “Empress” which has a low rumble underneath the propulsive synths.

“Shores of Oblivion” is a more eerie soundscape of wind and slow pulsing waves of emptiness. When the fast melody comes from out of the waves it feels like something sinister heading right for you.

“rophecy” adds some light to the proceedings with an uplifting melody which is eventually corrupted by “Corruption” and turns into a more threatening tone.

“Ritual” introduces a fairly heavy bassline and some more modern sounding synths.  Then “A New Quest” returns to the pulsing sound of old.  “Hope” starts quietly but brings am uplifting melody that continues throughout the song.

“Endless” ends the disc with strings–ominous at first but which move into a more stately melody that fades out slowly over a long time–continuing endlessly

The band also released a single of “Invincible” with a remix by Waveshaper.  I don’t typically like remixes, because mostly they just dump a new drum beat over an old melody, but this one plays around with the song in interesting ways.  It turns it into something different without losing the original.  I rather like the new bass line they add to the song.

In the comic book, Magic Sword says that this ends the cycle.  Does that mean the end of Magic Sword … or the beginning of a new cycle?

[READ: October 29, 2020] Magic Sword Volume 2, Chapter 3

Chapter 3 concludes this cycle somewhat unexpectedly for me (although it makes perfect sense once it is explained).

When Chapter 2 ended, Nayia came face to face (or more like face to big toe) with The Colossus.  It was the size of a mountain and seemed to be covered in bark.  It quickly grabbed hold of her with its tendrils, trying to burrow into her orifices.

But the power of the Magic Sword was still within her and it fought back where she couldn’t.  With its help she was easily able to best this beast.

But the story doesn’t end there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAGIC SWORD-Awakening EP (2019).

It took three years for Magic Sword, the instrumental band from Boise Idaho, to release chapter two of the second volume of their saga.  In that time, they had released individual songs, but for this entire seven song EP (and comic book), the year of the sword took much longer than expected.

The Keeper (red, keyboard, audio-visual), The Seer (blue, guitar), and The Weaver (yellow, drums) have continued the saga but have expanded their sound a bit.  They still sound like a 1980s movie soundtrack, but it’s a bigger budget movie.

“Herald” opens the EP with a deep-voiced narration of the opening page of volume one, the paragraph that sets up the story of the Magic Sword.  It segues into “Awakening” which sounds bigger than anything they’ve done while still retaining the recognizable retro Magic Sword sound.  Midway through the guitar comes in with a quiet solo that introduces a funky element to the song–there’s even the a kind of bass guitar element.  It is a slow opening that sets the tone of the album as we await “The Harbinger.”

“The Harbinger” is under three minutes and projects an ominous low tone as a distant, distorted voice recites a passage that I can’t make out.  It segues into “Lady of Light” which follows a pretty synth melody that mutates into a middle with a distinctly funky/disco bass.  “Reborn” bursts forth like a big 1980’s synth anthem.  But it quickly changes tone with a pulsing soundtrack and a ripping guitar solo.  It all resolves into the anthemic conclusion.

“Shadow” introduces a more sinister sound–both the harsh higher notes and the menacing low growling synth that works as a perfect segue to the album ending “Colossus.”  It continues like the rest of the album with just a hint more menace in the crashing drums and delays of the loud synths and an absolutely roaring guitar solo to close out the disc.

Magic Sword still sounds like the same trio, but they sound even more assured.

[READ: October 29, 2020] Magic Sword Volume 2, Chapter 2

Chapter 1 introduced us to Tayia, the chosen one.  She is pure of heart and is therefore eligible to wield the Magic Sword and restore balance.

But as The Keeper explained, the Magic Sword will take control of her body–she will become death.

As Chapter 1 ended, The Keeper stopped time and Tayia grabbed the Magic Sword.  As Chapter 2 opens, time resumes and the creature who was about to attack her, a member of the Kihlhi tribe, realizes she is no longer where she was (time did not stop for her).

He crashes to the ground.

Continuing with the parallels between this story and present reality, the Kihlhi was

Spouting vile hatred through slurred speech.

One can only hope that in reality the vile creatures also

had no idea of the mighty change that had overtaken and transformed his prey.

Tayia’s power and will merged with the will of the sword creating beautiful arcs of pink.  She fights effortlessly, including a full page scene of her dance/kick. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAGIC SWORD-Legend EP (2016).

Magic Sword, the instrumental band from Boise Idaho, is back, following their epic Volume 1 with a 15 minute EP and a new angle to their story.

The three members of the band remain: The Keeper (red, keyboard, audio-visual), The Seer (blue, guitar), and The Weaver (yellow, drums).

This EP has three songs.

“Legend of the Keeper” begins slowly, like something building from primordial ooze.  Steam escapes as the music builds and turns into a kind of 1980’s montage soundtrack introducing the hero.  There were guitars on the first album, but they are more prominent here with a lengthy solo.

“Uprising” begins with a menacing pulse that resolves into a tense series of overlapping melodies.  It continues into some laser-sounding pulses that set the tone for the uprising to come.    “The Curse” has a simple keyboard melody, but underneath it, the low distorted notes sound like an animal, a demon, whispering words into your head.  But a soaring guitar solo pushes through the distortion.

There is a Deluxe Edition of the EP with three remixes: “Legend Of The Keeper (F.O.O.L. Remix),” “Uprising (The Indicator Remix)” and “The Curse (The Toxic Avenger Remix).”  I’m not keen on remixes so these don’t do much for me.

[READ: October 29, 2020] Magic Sword Volume 2, Chapter 1

Volume 1 set up the origins of the Magic Sword.  In Volume 2, we see it come to the aid of the desperate.

The Nierhi Valley people were a peaceful tribe, who knew no threats.

But the neighboring Kihlhi tribe had recently crossed the mountain that separated them.  The Kihlhi has been overtaken by a mysterious stranger who slowly sucked their humanity from them.  They soon thought only of murder and defilement.

The Niehri were easily overwhelmed until a thunderous crack on the top of the mountain meant only one thing: the arrival of the Magic Sword. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAGIC SWORD-Vol. 1 (2015).

Magic Sword is an instrumental band from Boise Idaho.

There are three members of the band: The Keeper (red, keyboard, audio-visual), The Seer (blue, guitar), and The Weaver (yellow, drums).

Magic Sword makes 1980’s-sounding sci-fi movie soundscapes.  Meaning there are a lot of synths, a lot of retro sound effects, and a lot of pulsing music.

The music feels like a soundtrack and that’s because it actually is. Magic Sword includes a comic book with each release (read about it below).

“The Beginning” sets the stage with a catchy synth melody before the intensity of “Sword Of Truth.”  After setting the stage, the lighter (but with a still menacing underbelly) “The Way Home” propels the story forward.

“Kill Them All” has words.  A quiet, whispered voice states

They came in the night
They killed everyone
I hid in the shadows
And then it came to me
The Magic Sword
And I killed them all

Dramatic chords rise as the music swells.  “In The Face Of Evil” presents a sinister bass melody as a lead melody wanders along it until it turns into a lengthy solo.

“Only Way In” is slower and more intense with a looping synth keeping the tension high as what sounds like birds echo in the background.  After a build up of intensity (can you see a hero making their way through a small passage) the tempo picks up.  This song has the most modern sounding music (almost an EDM kind of distorted beat) letting you know its not all retro.

“Reflection” allows for a moment to rest as gentle music falls down. But an ominous undertone is always present.  “Retrogram” feels like an opportunity to start anew as “Discover” ups the intensity with a far more retro pulsing synth sound.

“Memories In Shadow” slows things down as sprinklings of notes poke out of the ominous lower chords that sustain the song until it begins to rebuild as it heads toward the “Battlefield.”  “Battlefield” does not feel violent as expected–it’s more passionate but not scary.  There’s even a slow, quiet middle for a moment of reckoning.

“Infinite” feels uplifting, but there’s no time for rest as the abyss stares back at out hero.  “Journey’s End” feels solitary.  There is still work to do as our hero soars into the distant sky.

[READ: October 29, 2020] Magic Sword Volume 1

Volume 1 is the first graphic novel from the band Magic Sword.  There are presently four books in the series. The story follows The Keeper (red, keyboard, audio-visual), The Seer (blue, guitar), and The Weaver (yellow, drums) as they prepare for the necessary return of the Magic Sword.

This first book opens

In the beginning there was light

and Darkness.

But soon evil spread over the land like a plague.  [sounds familiar]. (more…)

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