Thursday, March 12, 2009

Plenum: Here We Go Magic

Sorry for the long absence between posts. I have been working steadily on a book proposal and have finally turned in all the material. Hopefully I'll have some news soon.

In the meantime back to the music.

My friend Jason Patch and I share broad musical tastes and he has been grooving lately on his satellite radio and discovering some little known jewels. Recently he told me about Here We Go Magic, and I had to give them a listen.

It's hard to write succinctly about psychedelia these days. The term is used in so many ways, aspects of everything from certain doom/stoner metal to underground folk to house trance music. So maybe it's best to talk about a sensibility rather than a genre of music. And by sensibility I mean a kind of musical consciousness that attempts to raise, heighten, or otherwise alter the state of the listener. But there is no single end-point. There is some psychedelic music that evokes dread, some that evokes wonder and, and even some that can urge you towards movement, even if its only tapping your foot or clapping along.

I have found the best involves a little of all of these; a little hope, a little fear, and a little bit of desire to sit around the ancient fires and sway and groove along. Why all these things? I think it's because the more powerful experiences of altered consciousness, however you come by them, are ones that straddle the threshold between joy and melancholy. So when music is the path by which we can come to open ourselves up to other states of mind and being, I don't want to be taken solely down a path of blackened doom, because it's just not true that there is nothing beautiful in this world (this isn't to say some of the the blackest drone metal don't exhibit moments of beauty, but these are often artifacts of the nature of drone). And I am skeptical of music that offers only the lightness of pop devoid of noise and uncertainty.

I saw all this by way of introduction to the music of Here We Go Magic, which draws from the great well of psychedelic music by incorporating folk (by way of Simon and Garfunkel, the mountains, and the woods), noise, drone, a little Harry Nilsson and even some old-fashioned acid-damaged pop. But what they do with it is so original and earnest, so without contrivance or above-it-all irony, that it's like hearing some of these musical ideas for the first time.

There is a kind of cozy claustrophobia here, nestling in the darkness where instead of feeling afraid, you feel strangely safe. Sometimes the easiest way to fall asleep is to remember dreams.

--Here we Go Magic: Only Pieces
--Here We Go Magic: Ghost List

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