When I read the press release for Last Magpie`s Kissing Stones I thought I was in for an ambient outing. A quick listen to the first track seemed to confirm my suspicions, since it`s an “atmosphere” of ringing resonance, cello, sparse keys and treated guitar. But that was a bit of a red herring, because from there the album segues out of birdsong and into dark brooding electronics – metallic chimes and arcs of, sometimes melancholy, horn-like sound – and then in come the beats. Big room thumps, thuds, kicks and express train high-hats. 808-like electro. Crunchy looped fidgeting funk. Glitched arhythmic. Moodymann-like constructs of sampled gospel vocals and handclaps. Armor-plated Chicago boompty-boomp. Synths subtly reference both E2-E4 and French Kiss. Deep words of wisdom, and new age celestial showers, effectively update The Truth`s Open Our Eyes. Having you closing yours and raising your hands. Rave-tastic bass reminiscent of Landlord`s I Like It.
The track Looping rocks like a reboot of Rob Armani`s Circus Bells. A nagging distress signal slowly fading in, then the bass dropping out. Sticks N Stone is twilight techno which features a vocoder-ed self-help mantra. Space Invaders given up smoking grass and taken up meditation. But for all the “uplift”, all the banging, the tone is introspective throughout. I’ve name-checked a few memories above – and there is an air of nostalgia – an incredibly emotive one, similar to Bicep`s brilliant Glue – as if haunted by the ghosts of parties passed / past. The original dictionary definition of nostalgia, based on its Greek derivation, is “homecoming pain”, the “pain of returning” and Kissing Stones was created in isolation with a hefty dose of hindsight. While the bulk of these cuts will move any floor, there`s also something more significant, more thoughtful, hiding here, inside this house.
Last Magpie`s Kissing Stones is available through Man Power`s Me Me Me. If you can hold off on ordering until Friday, July 3rd, then on that day Bandcamp are once again waiving their fees – furthering their support of artists in these on-going difficult times.