Piano Magic – Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet
After 3 years Piano Magic have returned with their new record ‘Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet’, on Second Language. Full of eerie ambience and deep poetic imagery, there’s plenty for those familiar with the group and, as always, something new to mix it up a bit.
Beginning with the short cello piece ‘Matin’ the tone is set to “safe”, with the band’s usual melancholy and prettiness. The first real song on the record, ‘Judas’, is an excellent rhythmic warning in ode to The Bible’s famous backstabber: “your name is assured in the history books/the ink it has settled on fear/but do not get attached to your throne/the price of betrayal is dear.” With a steady beat and funky bass-line it’s certainly a foot-tapper and surely one of Piano Magic‘s most accessible songs to date. Followed on by a Spanish acoustic roll is ‘The Slightest of Threads’; groggy and constant, you won’t believe the grand explosion of sound this becomes. ‘Chemical (20mgs)’ is another strong one, certainly another catchy one which suggests that the group are attempting (slowly) to move away from their more isolating roots. The production of this record, as always with Piano Magic, is excellent; the song is ordained with glitchy splutters and dissolving acid drops whilst percussive taps spit around the listener’s head (do yourself a favour and play this in headphones).
For every bit of hook and drum these guys seem to have been building up recently though, it seems that the record is still full of that old filler… deep ambience, soaked in reverb, with, at times, not very much going on. The worst offender on the record is ‘The Way We Treat Animals’, a meandering, gentle jam that drags on somewhat for almost 7 minutes. Also falling in the filler jar is the ridiculous, unnecessary 16-second ‘Reprise’ and ‘You Don’t Need ToTell Me’, with its rather dull and obvious astronomical lyricism: “your rationale is fading/it’s fading like a star/amongst these constellations/you always found hope/but now I see a worried man/behind the telescope”.
This is not to say that the album is a complete loss, at all. Please do not read this as a pan, as there’s a vast amount of new ground for the group which shows some amazing potential for a new, adaptable Piano Magic. For example, ‘Higher Definition’, which has all the groove and drive of some of the more upbeat post-something-or-other bands such as Battles, Eraas (formerly APSE) and Woodsman. There are moments in this record that make you want to get up and move and there are moments full of that same old sombre glory. Other noteworthy tracks are ‘Sing Something’, lifted straight from the Church of David Lynch: tense, beautiful, haunting, and ‘Lost Antiphony’, an instrumental which will appeal to any Six Organs of Admittance fan for sure.
‘Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet’ is a good record that sadly loses steam around halfway. Dark glitchy elements creep in and around the listener’s head, whilst the usual spooky lyrics and instrumentation sit and play nice together. The strongest moments are largely the more driving and experimental, as electronic programming and percussion largely takes the lead. As always, all performance is excellent with the group, but there’s a lot of moments where you find yourself disengaged or checking the time. This is, essentially, another Piano Magic record (of which there are now many). The group have always seemed to aim for the British office-worker, to come home and relax to with some lovely scented candles and a nice bottle of wine; this record’s no exception from the theory, but it’s hard to pull yourself away from that thought in the back of your mind after listening… “Didn’t I just read that Dead Can Dance have a new album soon?”
Out now on Second Language Music.
Posted by Jake Murray.
Tags: album review, Jake Murray, Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet, Piano Magic, Second Language Music