SL021 Piano Magic Heart Machinery - A Piano Magic Retrospective, 2001-2008 • ORDER HERE
As 2001's Seasonally Affective archived Piano Magic's first five years of existence, Heart Machinery assembles the subsequent, no less prolific, eight for easy filing. The full EPs, singles and compilation tracks here navigate a ley line between the London-based group's roots in experimental, lo-fi electronica and their excursions into raw, full-blown rock-outs and back again. Maybe it's the restlessness of this Anglo-French unit that has not only kept fans on their toes but perhaps denied them more than a few seconds in the limelight. Not that it matters, Piano Magic's aim was always for the heart and they rarely missed.
It's a giant sidestep from the prose-heavy, 4-track improvisations of 2001's I Came to Your Party Dressed as a Shadow EP to 2003's Speed The Road, Rush The Lights. By then, Piano Magic had established itself on the stage, regularly touring Continental Europe, now armed with standard issue rock 'n' roll armoury - drums, bass and fx-infused guitars. Even so, contrary to the core, not only did 2003's Saint Marie EP feature the crystal-voiced, then fresh from obscurity '70s folk-pop doyenne, Vashti Bunyan, as well as Low frontman, Alan Sparhawk, it also saw the band's palette extend to include tambura (courtesy of Cornershop's Ben Ayres), Spanish guitar, Durutti Column-esque drum machinery, viola, harp, hand-claps.
Two years later, the band threw another curve-ball. Recording in the grimy, often freezing backstreet studios of East London, they once again retreated into icy synths, skittery beats and glacial voices. It's here that the band's claim to being the world's premier (perhaps only) 'ghost rock' group makes perfect sense.
Heart Machinery includes several ultra-rare cuts, notably 'The Inquest of My Youth' - originally recorded for cult American psych/experimental Dream Magazine. Similarly, 'A Fist In The Air (A Tear In The Eye)' was, until now, only to be found on Randall (Fuxa) Nieman's excellent Mind Expansion label compilation (2006), while 'What Does Not Destroy Me,' is plucked from a split 7" single with Klima, on the French label, Monopsone (2003).
Heart Machinery is number No.2 in the new 2L Library Series - a highly collectable catalogue of hardback CD albums designed to be stored in your bookcase.
An accompanying bonus disc, Never It Will Be The Same Again (originally released as a ltd edition vinyl-only EP in 2006 as part of the EN/OF Series), is available free with this release to those buying Heart Machinery from the Second Language website.
This is SL021.
1. I Came To Your Party Dressed As A Shadow
2. Blood & Snow
3. The Drowning Of St Christopher
4. Speed the Road, Rush The Lights
6. Luxembourg Gardens
7. What Does Not Destroy Me
8. Saint Marie
9. Fantasia On Old English Airs
10. Dark Ages
12. Wrong Turn
13. Kind Theme
1. Echoes On Ice
2. The Journal Of A Disappointed Man
3. I Didn't Get Where I Am Today
4. This Heart Machinery
5. The Inquest Of My Youth
6. A Fist In The Air (A Tear In The Eye)
8. I Have Moved Into The Shadow
9. Giant Mirror To Light Up Village
10. Lights Come On At 3
11. Dark Horses
14. A Book I Should Not Read