Release Date: May 5, 2009
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
If a band makes two records that move their sound in the same direction, is it fair to call the first a step forward and the second a retread? No, it's not. So please don't call Balf Quarry a repeat of BOSS, Magik Markers' excellent 2007 album. I understand the temptation-- like its predecessor, Balf Quarry channels this duo's noisy leanings into simpler songs without sacrificing the band's fiery energy.
The formless, noisy mood pieces that comprise mostly any Magik Markers release have always simultaneously been a strength for the duo in regards to their live show, but ran the risk of being seen as a detriment to their work inside the studio. 2007’s BOSS, however, looked to bring them to a slightly higher plateau of sorts, delivering a cohesive sonic statement that, in addition to being a bat-shit crazy, impressively spastic mess, was also rich with the sort of cultural subtext that is rarely created outside of a Blues record. Mostly, Balf Quarry (Magic Markers’ latest LP) continues along with the BOSS aesthetic.
The specter of Sonic Youth looms large over Magik Markers. The two bands toured together in 2004, Magik Markers were briefly signed to Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace label, and singer Elisa Ambrogio can effortlessly replicate Kim Gordon’s girl-rock growl. It’s impossible to keep up with the amount of CD-R and vinyl releases the band has issued, but Balf Quarry, their first album for Drag City, isn’t going to put a halt to those Sonic Youth comparisons.
Over eight years, Magik Markers have evolved from purely id-driven noisemakers to weavers of noise and song that work and sound a lot like Sonic Youth c. Evol. Yeah, it’s an obvious comparison, but hard to refute. Even in their chaos days, the detuned guitars of Elisa Ambrogio and now-departed Leah Quimby made a racket with that was awfully close to Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore’s.