Release Date: Jun 12, 2012
Record label: Saint Marie
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
There's a unique eeriness about Piano Magic's 11th LP, Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet. Opening with a drone-based sketch that has origins both Medieval and Far Eastern, the collective's sense of innovation is apparent from the very beginning. Furthermore, this exotic, ethnomusical thread runs right throughout the record—the haunting interludes of a Spanish guitar on "The Slightest of Threads," for example, could be lifted from the most evocative of soundtracks (were it not for the sparse and unnervingly steadfast beat in the background, and the brief, noisy collapse of the song).
For the band’s new album, Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet, Piano Magic retreated from the barrage of guitars that filled past albums to focus on negative space and electronic shadows. The result is an unrepentantly dark record that may have sweet beauty to it, but it hides under the chilly vibe of these songs. This new focus on spare percussion and echoing electronic flourishes does work, particularly when Angele David-Guillou coos hauntingly over “Sing Something” or when frontman Franck Alba injects an earworm hook into the odd blips of “Chemicals (20 mgs)”.
With their childlike female vocals and toybox melodies, Piano Magic's earliest records had some loose connection to indie pop, a scene that valorizes a certain kind of hermetic accessibility. But Piano Magic's music didn't feel like it was made by anyone walking around the real world. It was hard to guess who was making Piano Magic's records. On their singles compilation, 2001's Seasonally Affective, you'd get twee surrealist monologues about baking bread or reading Richard Brautigan novels backed by spooky field recordings of atmospheric disturbances.
With 2009’s Ovations (the last official Piano Magic album if we exclude 2010’s self-revisiting limited edition Home Recordings) Glen Johnson and co. had arguably taken Piano Magic’s most electric guitar-driven phase to a logical end. Hence, in the spirit of the band’s cyclical ritual for reinvention – that has expanded and sustained Piano Magic’s life-span many times over since 1997’s Popular Mechanics long-player – Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet is a bold yet highly-refined transformation.