February 23, 2012
Review: Young Magic – ‘Melt’
Young Magic – Melt
There are probably two or three cities in the world in which musicians with disparate heritage can convene to make music together. One is New York. One is Berlin. The third is disputed, but largely believed to be Telford. Eastern Australia-via-Indonesia trio Young Magic chose the first metropolis, relocating to a chilly Brooklyn warehouse after some extensive traveling to forge Melt; a labour of love two years in the making.
It’s a highly attractive set, constructed from smudged tones and indistinct vocals, with just enough variety and hook sensibility to hold it together. Tracks like ‘You With Air’ have been on the blog circuit for considerable time now — a riotous placeholder of thick beats, mesmeric synths and distant cries — as singer/producer Isaac Emmanuel began to sketch out the bones of the project before taking it to vocalist Melati Malay and multi-instrumentalist Michael Italia to flesh out.
Opener ‘Sparkly’ is a delight — a cyclic five bar phrase that sways and dips between sparse verses and richer choruses — while ‘Slip Time’’s detached, screaming synth riff sits above a languorously twisted production. There are inescapable Brooklyn overtones asserting themselves over ‘Yalam’’s African polyrhythms or the jangling kalimba of ‘Watch For Our Lights’, manifesting largely as caverns of reverb and art house aesthetics, but they are just another world texture in the esoteric psych-soul the band create.
‘Jam Karet’ has a post-Dilla thing going on, its fuzzed out bass and compressed beats supporting a slightly indecipherable hook that we’ve narrowed down to either “All the kids on the road never come back” or “On the keys is Nick Rhodes on a comeback”. The hooks continue to shine on ‘Sanctuary’, the track’s accusatory “even if you weren’t so high” circling another hypnotic beat, while ‘Drawing Down the Moon’s impossibly skittish rhythms jar ever so slightly — a rare experiment gone wrong.
In a recent interview with The Stool Pigeon, Italia explained “we wanted something to reflect our separate journeys over the last year… the lush moments and the darkness… the intense highs and very low lows during that time.” The band captures this best on ‘Night In The Ocean’; a languid, wistful paean to faraway beaches awash in a tide of woolly synths and yearning vocals. Serving as Melt’s next single, the track may be one of Young Magic’s more straightforward pieces, but works well as an introduction to the trio’s truly impressive repertoire — one that’s to be tested to the limit on the road over the coming months. But given this band’s track record with travel, touring will be akin to a homecoming.
Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON