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On Deck: Majical Cloudz

By ; January 21, 2013 at 9:33 AM 

 Majical Cloudz

On Deck is a column dedicated to giving artists some room to talk about what they’re currently listening to and to explore some of their favorite and most influential records.

Originally based around the solo material of founding member Devon Welsh, Majical Cloudz expanded into a duo in February of last year when Matthew Otto joined the band.  Their unique brand of fractured pop, sitting atop washed out waves of white noise and processed synths, feels of the moment but also sits completely out of time.  By absorbing the synth overload of the past few years and injecting it with a sense of humanism and lyrical association, Majical Cloudz have created something redolent of their influences but also something that no other group could have produced.

They did release quite a bit of music last year in the form of various EP’s/singles and one full-length called II that is streaming in full over at their Bandcamp page.  There have been intimations that a proper LP on Arbutus Records is in the works and may see daylight sometime this year.  While we wait for any concrete information about a possible release, enjoy our latest installment of On Deck with the band.  From The Doors to Arthur Russell, Welsh and Otto dig into their own musical histories to come up with a handful of records that have influenced them and their own incomparable sound.  And as varied and seemingly dissociative as their choices may initially appear, once you spend any time with Majical Cloudz’ music, their choices start to make a whole lot of sense.  Check out the full list below and make sure to check out past entries in our On Deck feature as well.

Elliott Smith - Either Or
Elliott Smith – Either/Or

My friend played me “Speed Trials” when I was eighteen and I immediately fell in love with Elliott Smith. This was the first album that I was exposed to, and I also think that it is his greatest. I listened almost exclusively to Elliott Smith for about a year, so his music is very special to me. My friend Dylan and I have had long conversations debating which album is the best, with the implicit detail: “other than Either/Or“.

The Doors - Live In New York
The Doors – Live in New York

In high school The Doors were one of my favourite bands. I was mesmerized by Jim Morrison. I later realized that this was what struck me most about the music, because a lot of the instrumentation no longer has much value to me. This set of live recordings highlights everything that I know is great about The Doors: the charisma, the energy, and how disgusting their music can sound. The nearly-twenty minute version of “The End” is probably the highlight.

Nico - The Marble Index
Nico – The Marble Index

Nearly everything about this album was shocking to me when I first heard it. This album led me to a lot of conclusions about what is important in music and what it is supposed to accomplish. “Ari’s Song” and “Julius Caesar (Memento Hodie)” are in some ways incredibly abstract but manage to communicate emotion so powerfully. When I first heard this I listened to it exclusively for a week, trying to understand it. I still don’t think I understand it perfectly, but it now resonates with me more than it ever has.

John Jacob Niles - An Evening With John Jacob Niles
John Jacob Niles – An Evening With John Jacob Niles

John Jacob Niles has one of the most interesting voices I have ever heard. His voice communicates so much emotion and carries the songs completely. His dulcimer just provides the minimum of support for his vocals. Often I’m not sure whether the songs are original compositions or traditional folk songs, but it’s irrelevant to the experience of hearing his performances. His music definitely changed the way I thought about singing.

Arthur Russell - Another Thought
Arthur Russell – Another Thought

I connected with Arthur Russell more deeply than any other artist since I discovered Elliott Smith. Another Thought feels in some ways like a half-way point between the fragile intimacy of World of Echo and the pop compositions of Calling Out of Context. This album is full of pop songs that speak personally. I don’t really know what else to say about it, it’s probably too present in my life for me to have anything meaningful to say.

Be sure to head over to the Arbutus Records website to stay on top of tour dates and information concerning the  band’s rumored upcoming full length.  You can listen to some of the songs from their most recent Turns Turns Turns EP, as well as some previous releases, over at their Bandcamp website.

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