Piano Magic The Troubled Sleep of Piano Magic

It’s been a while since I could honestly say I was excited about a new Piano Magic release. They released a couple of stunning records in the late ’90s, culminating with Low Birth Weight, only to quickly regress with the turn of the century, hitting a profound low with 2002’s Writers Without Homes. It was a creative lull that would effectively end their time with 4AD, and yet, despite the odds stacked against them, would also spark them to write some of their best music in years. With Klima's Angele David-Guillou back in the group, Glen Johnson and his newly inspired band headed into the studio with some of the most immediate and confident material he’s written in years. The results bare many of the same trademarks, of course: the familiar plaintive, sombre lyrics, the ghastly spacious production with sporadic electronic flourishes and the odd piece of confusing filler. This time around, however, the shifts in atmosphere, like the way the drum-heavy "Speed the Road, Rush the Lights” leads into a track that has the sound of wind as one of its primary instruments, are more unpredictable and drastic. Which would still mean nothing if the songs weren’t together and, for the most part, they are; while there aren’t many real standouts, it is a consistently good listen, which is far more than can be said about the lifeless going-through-the-motions feel of their last few releases. (Green UFOs)