“April is the cruelest month,
Breeding lilacs out of the dead land,
Mixing memory and desire”…
“Winter kept us warm,
Covering earth in forgetful snow”…
Another “seasonally affective” album. At least, Glen Johnson says so, from the very beginning: “out of season, out of heart”..
Forget about how seasons shift.. Lets talk about music!
There is this little story we’ve got here, different from other stories by Piano Magic… This is a love story, for sure; about fading emotions, then rejecting reactions, then reconciliation with facts and circumstances..
It might have to do with a short-term relationship such as that with 4AD: The temporary co-existence for the creation of “Son de Mar” score and the “Writers without Homes” … Nice that it didn’t last long… Excuse this spontaneous truth coming out of my …typing.
Piano Magic, like nomads, have moved on to more conducive territories. Green UFOs is their new label and distributor, their new Spanish “amigos tragicos” (tragic friends). They expect from their newly acquired ‘friends’ to give more space to the band’s musical range.
-‘This is not the Piano Magic we ‘re familiar with’, you might say, after listening to their ”Troubled Sleep”. This is neither “Low Birth Weight”, nor “Artist’s Riffles”; certainly not “Writers without Homes”! This is diverse, musically autobiographic, more clear, a lot more focused than their “Writers”. Probably because this time Johnson didn’t put so many ‘writers without homes’ under the same roof… This is a better organised album.
This is not a scheduled trip! No! I don’t think that Johnson uses maps and compasses on his journeys through music. The cover is misleading. Or is it not?
“You ‘re off the map, you’ve left the book” he sings and lights a candle for “Saint Marie”, in the hope She never brings her back to him. Once I got the album I looked at the cover. First there was that map… A more careful second look revealed… well… I cannot tell: This is for you to find out!
The first track retains the mysterious dark electronics, typical of Piano Magic’s works.. But then, everything musical they touch upon typifies them in the end.. This time Johnson touched upon the voice of a French… ohhhh… What a strong voice! Angele David-Guillou proves herself an excellent, prolific voice collaborator! The way she sings pronouncing the English verses; one by one come out the words: “…you-turn-on-your-siiiide-like-you-have-to-face-Noorth…or else you can’t sleep: the-unwritten-laaawww”…
Now, time for the third one! The third track! The standout one! The outstanding one! “Speed the Road, Rush the Light”! An almost 8-minute journey from darkness to light, from the aggressiveness of a wavy guitar to delicate, alluring percussions and back again. The music is autobiographic… And then one more song, later on.. “The End of a Dark, Tired Year”. Glen’s preferences, his musical tendencies are unveiled in this grandiose song! Cure-like… Figurehead-like… Maybe… Well, I suppose that Johnson can fancy himself as one of Cure’s imaginary boys… and one of “till the pornography era”-Cure’s fans… Yet, he differs! Play those early Cure discs and listen to Smith’s voice! The early years… the formative ones… The voice is “moulded” in an effort to be shaped upon the sound patterns… Childish? …So nice! …Yet, nostalgic! Johnson seems to like that!
I’m going back to “Speed the Road, Rush the Lights”, “Speed the Road, Rush the Lights” again!… “Geography, be kind to me, for the miles apart are killing me, tonight I would die to be by your side… So “Speed The Road, Rush the Lights”… Glen’s voice seems patient and tolerant, huh? Well, he is NOT! The man is crying aloud… The guitars are screaming, the bass and drums are holding out for the outburst… Then they altogether pop out… or maybe rock out… xa! …Ian Curtis and Adrian Borland are awaken from their.. deep peaceful sleep for a while… I can feel…
I love those two songs. The 3rd and 6th ones!! I do!
Yet, I have the “loveless” Kevin Shields in my mind… It might be a coincidence or maybe the sound of the guitar; the way he also treats and mixes the beats…
Well, I’m moving on!
Be prepared for the guitar in the teacher’s son, in the second-half part! “I have loved and lost, like the river’s lost and found. But I’ve never fought the tide, and I’ve never fucked around… I Am The Teacher’s Son”!!!
I can say no more, or I’ll spoil the surprise..
“Luxembourg Gardens”… unexpectedly strong… multiform! A lone duet introduced by surprising operatic sounds filtered by a psychedelic theremin… ohhhh! “Tonight, I can’t sleep, the heart is all wires”… “but I still love you and I can’t lie… Don’t you ever go home?” Then an agonised guitar in its sinister ferocious intensity.
I’ve left the 8th song aside…
“When I’m done, this night will fear me…
Ghosts of ghosts of ghosts will hear me”…
“Black star in a white night,
like a blue wave in a black sea”
How can I ever escape those lyrics? Who could truly avoid them?
Avoid this song?
Could we ever? Shall we ever?
I’m probably the first to have listened to this album…
I’m bringing you some seasonally interesting news:
Renewal and Re-emergence and Spring have come to ‘settle down’ for good
But… this might be the last Piano Magic album…and along with them…we might lose the sense of seasons changing…
Enjoy a challengeable epilogue… for more dark secrets will always look for light…
“You should always tell them you love them
in case you never see them again”[Comets]…
Released: December 2003
1) Saint Marie
2) The Unwritten Law
3) Speed The Road, Rush The Lights
4) Help Me Warm This Frozen Heart
5) I Am The Teacher’s Son
6) The End Of A Dark, Tired Year
7) The Tollbooth Martyrs
8) When I’m Done, This Night Will Fear Me
9) Luxembourg Gardens
[Guitars – Franck Alba
Female voice – Angèle David-Guillou
Guitars, keyboards, programming, chair, male voice – Glen Johnson
Bass, radio – Alasdair Steer
Drums, percussion, keyboards, programming – Jerome Tcherneyan
Keyboards, viola – James Topham
All words – Glen Johnson]