Majical Cloudz are currently my new favourite minimalist project. They are just so incredibly interesting, like Fugazi if they decided to go chill-step, or chill-wave or whatever the fuck that genre is called nowadays. You know, the super down played stuff that people like James Blake, Nosaj Thing and Gem Club are popularising. Well, Majical Cloudz are my personal favourite artist in that sort of style of music, and it’s not just because they have an awesome, awesome name. Who knew that replacing the actual letter with the phonetic sounding letter could create such a great band name?
I first heard about Majical Cloudz when I saw the name pop up as a collaboration on Grimes’ album from last year, on the glitchy, J-pop sounding ‘Nightmusic’. Although I heartily enjoyed it, and delved into the ‘Turns Turns Turns’ EP, I kind of lost track of them until I spotted the brand new album, ‘Impersonator’. And by jolly fuck nuzzles is it great. A great slice of immersing white man R&B, ‘Impersonator’ purrs and slants in all directions, a sifting delicacy that is absolutely chilling and frighteningly good.
The title track, and opener, ‘Impersonator’ is a good example of the depth and texture of the album. It’s not an album that you warm into. You start right in the deep end of the blue lagoon of reverberating sound, submerged in holy disconcerting washes of silently bellowed vocals. Following ‘Impersonator’, is ‘This is Magic’ and ‘Childhood’s End’, both songs about symbolising the crashing of innocence, done with heart-wrenchingly perfect execution. It’s really hard to describe the cold grasp that clutches in ‘Childhood’s End’ when the lyrics sob ‘Our fate/ it is sealed…I don’t cry/ Oh God tell me why’ against a sullen portrait of grey strings and electronic whirs and taps, like the most depressing Nicolas Jaar song you’ve never heard.
The tantalising sorrow doesn’t stop at the forefront of the album. No, it continues in a hypnotising organic fashion, like at the midway point of ‘Mister’, the song that initially stopped me in my tracks ‘Turns Turns Turns’, and the excruciatingly good ‘Silver Rings’. The former is charged forward by the raindrop-pattering percussion, set up against otherworldly soaring organ and tortured whispers. ‘Turns Turns Turns’ comes in to revamp the record. This is a track that manages to be infinitely more intriguing than whatever Rudimental or Calvin Harris is blasting obnoxiously right now, with sullenly repeated vocals, some quaint female chanting, ice-cold claps and distant instrumentation. It churns with a desperate avante-garde spirit, but shows nothing on the clasper of ‘Silver Rings’. The poignant rippling of squeaks in that song, building with the ‘ooo-ing’ and delicately soft string section is to die for, and comes off as totally natural, and not at all douchey, which defies logic. Usually string-sections in popular music are reserved for bands that are out of bravado ideas (cough, Daft Punk, cough), but the effect is incredibly mesmerising and even dizzying.
Of course, the highlight, and ‘single’ of the album is ‘Bugs Don’t Buzz’. With the opening of disenchanting piano chords, coughing a disturbingly sad vibe throughout the track, the vocals only build on that. You can practically see the tears spilling out of the track. Then, once you think things are at a crystallised depression, bass-synths and white noise electro effects waft into the track, and crease the whole piece into a distorted bleak landscape. This song was made for a long, grey drive through the country-side after a funeral. It’s just that powerful and engrossing. Lyrically and musically, it’s unstoppable.
The reason ‘single’ is presented in italics above is because of the way the album is constructed. It needs to be listened to in full. It begs it, because most tracks on ‘Impersonator’ can not give off the full wrangling effect that the album conveys so well. It’s an album of material that dips and dives in freezing capacities, indulgent in the most subtle of ways, cascading towards oblivion; but only when appreciated in it’s fullest context. If tracks are listened to singularly, the only effect you will gain is one of soft off-putting, as the songs are far too slow to engage at a cast-away glance. This isn’t flashy pop music made to satisfy in a shallow sense, but highly emotive and deeply personal art, and by far one of the most together and well-spoken releases out of Canada since Japandroids ‘Celebration Rock’.