Album Review

Magic I.D., The – “I’m So Awake / Sleepless I Feel” – [Staubgold]

Thurston Hunger   6/3/2011   12-inch, A Library

Superbly crafted album from this Berlin quartet, their second
full length. Refreshingly constructed around a pair of clarinets,
acoustic guitar is woven meaningfully into the web in a non-trivial
dumb strum way, but taking weird angles and refractions off the
clarinets. Honestly, this recalled Gastr del Sol, which is high
praise. Christof Kurzmann adds to the mystery with electronics
that hide in the shadows of the clarinet, or loop while the voices
are singing. Margareth Kammerer, she of the guitar, adds her 1920’s
victrola singing; sooo nice to hear an echo of Billie Holiday as
opposed to over-modulated self-proclaimed divas. This is great
jazz pop, two words that shouldn’t scare you if they weren’t so
often keep miles away from each other. Wait, don’t run away…I didn’t mean
jazz pop, I meant art rock!! Either way its subtle austerity is its power. Kai
Fagaschinski and Michael Thiele work the reeds. They even sing for their
supper and mentor on “Eric’s Kicks” with praise to Dolphy. That’s the peppiest
piece, with a herky-jerky propulsion. Awkward grace. “Mambo” is a decidedly
different non-dance with a showcase of Kurzmann’s knobs. His piece, “In My
Dreams” captures the sentiment for an uprising with steel drum (samples?), a
mix not accidental I think. Fagaschinski’s vocals are such a complement to
Kammerer’s, he’s a soothing truth-speaker, and the album’s title (and first
and last tracks) do capture that wide-eyed excited tranquility of the dawn,
balanced between the night and the next day. Do not sleep on this. One of
the best of the year in my early ear.

-Thurston Hunger

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