Piano Magic 
Writers without Homes
/4ad; 2002/

rating : 
I don’t like marks but since Barbara “the boss” H compels me to: 6.5



more info :


First, I’ve got to admit that I just listened once or twice to another Piano Magic album. I remember thinking that it was somehow uneven, irregular. There were some good songs but the whole lacked something. This new album leaves me the same impression. Piano Magic is a sort of collective in which musicians come and go. On Writers Without Homes, it occurred to the core of the group (Marin-Johnson-Steer-Tchernyan) to invite, among others, Simon Raymonde (ex-Cocteau Twins), Tarwater, The Czars’ singer and Vashti Bunyan who is a famous sixties folk singer.

The result is an heterogeneous juxtaposition of songs which haven’t necessarily got a similar atmosphere.

The first song, entitled “(Music won’t save you from anything but) silence” brilliantly opens the album but it does not represent it properly. Indeed, it’s the only post-rock song of the album. It’s reminiscent of Mogwaï, GYBE and Do Make Say Think. This song is restless while all the others are calm.

Some of the tunes have an eighties feeling to them (“the season is long” for example). “Crown of the lost”, the one with Vashti Bunyan, is a nineties song that is trying hard to sound like as if we were living in the sixties (like Whistler) but it is quite appealing. “Modern Jupiter” sounds like the music of its guests, Tarwater. “Dutch Housing” is particular because of its French lyrics that are strangely sung a la Brigitte Fontaine but it evokes this english band signed to Sarah that was a bit successful in the early nineties: Field Mice.

My favourite songs are “Certainty” and “Shot through the fog”: they are quiet, delicate moments thanks to their beautiful piano parts and their female, typically English voice uttering the lyrics as if they were meant to be a lullaby. The guest’s voice is Caroline Potter’s. These two songs are really piano magic ! I wish this album was like that overall.

The title – Writers Without Homes- is a good choice because this album leaves a stateless impression, a saturnine feeling of being lost in the middle of nowhere. In addition, the artwork participates much to this since you hardly get what the photographs show It has a recognizable 4AD aesthetic. It evokes a dreamy but dismal atmosphere that makes me think of a Cocteau Twins sleeve.


/oct 1st 2002/