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Magic Arm — Images Rolling (2013)


Magic Arm — Images Rolling
“After finishing the first album I bought a piano with the intention of learning it and it being a key part of the new album. I spent a few months learning Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata as an entry point.”
Location: Manchester, England
Album release: June 3, 2013
Record Label: Peacefrog
Duration:     34:34
01. Put Your Collar Up     (4:26)
02. You Have Won     (3:49)
03. Warning Sign     (4:18)
04. Great Life     (4:16)
05. Lanes     (3:55)
06. Type Endlessly     (1:07)
07. Is History     (3:03)
08. Tonight I Walk     (3:07)
09. Under The Eaves     (4:16)
10. The Flood     (2:18)
Website: http://magicarm.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/magicarmmusic
Press contact:
Agent: (Mainland Europe)
By Max Raymond | 30 May 2013  (Editor rating: ***½)
¤   On the face of it, in the seven years since his arrival it would seem that not much has changed for Magic Arm, aka Marc Rigelsford; the Manchester-based musician is still doing everything by himself. But his tunes have slowly evolved into music that blossoms with all the power and force of a full band. And picking up the approval of Grizzly Bear‘s Ed Droste and Iron And Wine‘s Sam Beam won’t have hurt his career trajectory.
¤   His debut LP, 2009′s Make Lists, Do Something, was well received to an extent, even if some were left a little disappointed by its inconsistency, but its flaws are more noticeable when compared to follow-up Images Rolling. The new album attempts to marry infectious pop hooks with its own idiosyncrasies, and in so doing manages to sound like a melting point of ideas. These are 10 brand new songs from Rigelsford that all sound different from one another and, as the album progresses, he continues to throw in more instruments and textures; just when you think he can’t add more, he does.
¤   This is something that works both for and against him. Put Your Collar Up is a four-and-a-half minute opener full of flair, with a vibrant melody that bounces along, whilst the delightful Tonight I Walk is a slice of understated pop joy. But there are still moments of filler that not even his many textures can hide; You Have Won is pretty forgettable and Lanes, albeit nice enough, isn’t something to come back to again and again.
¤   Elsewhere though is some of Rigelsford’s best material to date. Warning Sign uses the Beck-esque approach that his worked for him before, creating a seductive and dreamy song that’s heavy on spacey synths and brass. Under The Eaves sees him finally deciding to aim high, starting stripped down but ending in a cacophony of hard-hitting drums and whirring psychedelic organ sounds. His vocals do a pretty decent job of standing up to his sonic creations, and they get a chance to properly shine on sparser numbers such as the elegant closer, The Flood.
¤   Throughout recent music history there have been solo artists who have attempted to cram in as much as possible and show off as much skill as they can, but have fallen short; instead of being viewed as craftsfolk they’ve been written off as quirky and nothing else. To put Magic Arm in such a cachet would be a touch unfair. Images Rolling is undeniably focused on experimenting with different sounds, and it doesn’t work all the time. Yet there’s more to it than that. Somewhere in this eclectic mix is a talented songwriter bursting to get out and show the world what he’s really made of. And with Images Rolling he has made an intriguing and, at times, inventive step up from his previous work.
Fortaken: http://www.musicomh.com/
In french:
¤   Magic Arm, c'est en fait Marc Rigelsford, un Anglais multi-instrumentaliste et bricoleur de sons et de mélodies pop folk. Moins tourné vers l'electro, ce nouvel album, très varié et inégal, est assurément à découvrir.
By Dominic Allen; June 03, 2013
¤   This album, to be blunt from the off, was a great disappointment. Not so much because it was terribly bad but because it was not anything that I had hoped it would be. I had no prior experience of multi-instrumentalist Marc Rigelsford’s aka Magic Arm’s music but had read about him. I was drawn into doing the review by reading other reviews and his biography where words like “woozy psychedelia” are thrown about. Additionally, I was expecting comrade Rigelsford’s statement “I’m literally trying to write pop music but it never comes out that way. There’s always a dark edge to it” to be realised in sonic form. Herein is where the disappointment lies.
¤   The term “woozy psychedelia” can conjure up the likes of Super Furry Animals, Mellow, Howlin’ Rain, pretty much anything from the Elephant 6 collective and all points in between. This album is not in that hemisphere by any stretch. As for anything remotely connected to dark that is a description as far distant as the Dagobah system. This extends to both the music and the lyrical content. More appropriate descriptions would have been light-weight, twee and, if being harsh, bland. Images Rolling is a rather pretty, straightforward pop album but nothing spectacular, offensive or compelling. As previously stated, I have not heard his earlier work so I do not know how it compares to or furthers his existing corpus of work.
¤   There is a paucity of good songs on this album with ‘Put Your Collar Up’ and ‘The Flood’ being the stand outs. Overall the album has an anodyne, latter-day Beach Boys vibe about it and is also partly reminiscent of Father John Misty. However, there is not really enough to keep the interest and definitely no songs that demand a replay. The songs just seem to flow into each other without doing a great deal to command attention. There is definitely nothing in terms of a change of pace and very little overly memorable about the majority of the songs. However, strangely and somewhat contradictorily this album could be better live than on cd. It does have a good album waiting to burst out of it but is far too reserved and withdrawn to make any lasting impact.
¤   If Images Rolling is to be your first foray into Magic Arm’s universe then be prepared to be underwhelmed. While there is promise in the album there does not appear to be anything too much beyond that. Potentially what Rigelsford needs to do is get a big bunch of ugly to make his offering more memorable.
Fortaken: http://musosguide.com/
By Aaron Lavery at http://drownedinsound.com/ (rating: 7/10)

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