Way back when, I used to write reviews for the Echoes & Dust music site. Time management and a lack of motivation put an end to that. But I still get sent preview links to some fantastic music, which is great for me, but a disappointment for the artists involved as I have to explain that I don’t write for them any more and would hardly have time to listen in detail, never mind actually write a review.
However, there are a few exceptions and this is one of them.
In 2013 (really? That long ago?) I wrote a review of Dion And The Magic Chords’ album ‘Curiosa’. I loved its playfulness, its innocence and its energy.
Well, four years later, they’ve got a new album, ‘Gestalt’ and it’s a cracker. Due for release on 28th October 2017 on Laterax Recordings, it takes all the elements from Curiosa and then adds to, and refines, the formula further. Actually, “formula” is the wrong word, as there are an eclectic bunch of tracks on this release. The charm, skill and dynamics of Curiosa remain, but there seems to be more structure, reflecting a focused and tight live band more than the lo-fi geeks one might imagine.
Instrumentation is rich and varied, from lo-tech vintage home keyboards and organs to analogue synths and some lush acoustic (one assumes) brass and woodwind orchestrations. There’s a much more cinematic feel than previously, exemplified by the opening track Synchronizität which adds to the mix a ‘Ralph & Florian’-era Kraftwerk sensibility: motorik and melodic. Structures change and passages suddenly segue or jump to new and interesting places.
Fairy Slide takes a plonky home organ intro and develops it into a bouncing soundtrack with double-time drums and rumbling filtered 8-bit arpeggios all overlaid by ethereal magic chords (couldn’t resist).
Throughout the album, the tracks, however gritty and dark, develop into beautiful soundscapes and washes. The Runner starts with a broken arpeggio which morphs into a gorgeous wash of sound and then flips, with staccato keyboards and rhythm box beats, before returning to dreamland territory.
Most albums are a journey, but with Gestalt, each track is a voyage to different destinations. I shouldn’t really make comparisons, but I’m going to anyway. The influences of Phillip Glass, Ennio Morricone, early-era Kraftwerk and Cluster can be discerned. But there really are so many strands to this music that a few comparisons alone won’t give you an indication of the experience. I suggest you listen.
I, for one, am glad to have become acquainted with their music and, particularly, the stand-out track, Gestalt Lamp, which has just blown me away with its warmth, its melancholy and its hope.