Slow Magic says it is the “music made by your imaginary friend”. If that means you can take it anywhere, and it knows what you want, it’s succeeded, and brilliantly. Both intimate and connected, what is special is that this album could be listened to alone, maybe trying to blot out the world, or with a group of people, loud and ecstatic. Bigger, louder, wilder, the roots lie in a trance-like dance experience and the sound could fill an entire warehouse of people moving together. Or you could just put on your headphones and watch the sunrise.
Still Life starts off with piano, very simple, like an idea, a dream you wake up with that makes perfect sense. Then there’s the drum and the electronic key change and it all speeds up. The drop is that there isn’t one. Instead it’s a synth keyboard repetition of the key idea, vaguely reminiscent of Daft Punk, a sort of 70s sound. The mood remains throughout the seamless changes from acoustic to electronic, a sense of breathless excitement that runs through it, the beginning of some great adventure.
Girls let the vocals and synth blend, fading in and out in a reverse pull, almost like another language. The guitar touches the still beating pulse of the rhythm, forwards and backwards. When it becomes much more front and center, constant, it’s a tripping dance. Hypnotic.
Waited 4 U has an echoing, almost hollow wood synth sound, blooming and changing as it grows with the song, then the bass smooths the way for a vocal that plays back and forth, light and dark, male and female. The treatment in the middle serves as a contrast to the soulful vocals repeating “I waited for you”, over the rhythm and tambourine. It’s just so good, a mixture of light agile rhythms and slightly melancholy electronica.
Hold Still has a water drop percussion effect before the keyboard and the layers of wordless vocals come in, followed by drums, until it’s all swirling together with a very light touch. When it starts opening out into a wider keyboard sound, the steady snap click in our ears is a frame for it all. Intense. Then it breaks off into a room, acoustic piano, a whisper of words above it, maybe it’s raining outside. “Hold still” becomes a repeated, treated effect. Again the song moves effortlessly between rhythm and a sweep of different sounds.
Let U Go opens with vocals and percussion that feel almost like the soundtrack to a warm Brazilian night on the beach before piano and swirling vocals change it and build up beautifully, a dance between simplicity and elaboration. An almost anthemic keyboard motif feels exciting. An interesting tiny bit of rock drum way in the background triggers the chorus again. It’s too short. This could go on and on.
The faint crackle of a vinyl record playing sinks in as Manhattan begins a journey through emotional states with a steady tap of percussion. A concentric circle of keyboard sound sets off the notes that are half voice and half synth, then a more electronic feel takes over. It manages to be full and spare all at once, with an ambient sadness. A song to listen to as you watch your finger circle the top of your glass, waiting at a bar, the city somewhere below.
Bear Dance is all ice crystal notes and vocal over a rhythm. All the layers working together form the percussive base of the structure to the very top of the tower with that bell-like sound. It creates an image, a vast ice covered mountain with a snaking line of dancers. Maybe bears, when no one is looking. A song of possibility.
How to Run Away is an album to put on repeat, to drift with, to dance with.