Slow Magic is “not from around here,” but he won’t be unknown for long. The elusive, mask-donning producer / “imaginary friend” releases his debut full-length album, How to Run Away, September 9th via Downtown Records, just in time for his first North American headlining tour, which will commence next Thursday at The Independent in San Francisco (tickets).
Two years after the move and shake of mid-length ∆ (Triangle) (2012), Slow Magic is back on the fault line. Trading in experimental and beachy vibes, he’s opened for the likes of El Ten Eleven and Gold Panda among others, garnering an incredible amount of media support and a respectable Hype Machine fanbase.
Until “Still Life,” an intro piece where the colours truly explode on the canvas — I’d never heard a piano drop. With a liberal rubato applied before a thicker synthetic key progression, a weird tin drum, and a kazoo melody, Slow Magic meets the weary audiophile with something completely out of the ordinary. The track draws him in and swallows him carnivorously; thus, How to Run Away is a venus fly trap in-the-making.
Remember “Million Voices” by Otto Knows? Slow Magic’s “Girls” is a four-minute long I’m-a-hipster-new-age-shepherd version of that, diced and sautéed with a French tropical house piano bit and organic drum kit (which we hear translates live exquisitely well). Throughout How to Run Away, Slow Magic invests in jazz piano stylings, evidenced on “Still Life” and “Hold Still,” the latter of which features spooky synth washes alongside crackles and handclaps — a strong Black Atlass-esque delivery.
The highlight of How to Run Away arrives shortly thereafter, in the form of “Youth Group” which, alone, is enough reason to stop by The Independent next Thursday. Old church organ a la The Glitch Mob is paired with thick metallic chords and a half-time, drawn-out tempo; I wonder if he wrote its main ornamental lines on a classical piano before slicing them up.
The electronic and noir influences survived by Slow Magic are rampant on How to Run Away, including a city gliss generated by syncopated layers and a distant-sounding echo present throughout “Manhattan.” Much like a little song called “City” by a little band once-known as Ice Cream Social, these elements provide the wonder and loneliness experienced by urban dwellers.
Finally, to close out a resounding and impressive debut is “Closer.” This multi-movement finale is by far the most experimental track on How to Run Away, revisiting motifs from “Hold Still” and a woody string arrangement from way back, with a theme and variations-style. With the sounds on How to Run Away, I do believe humanity is closer to an escape.
Article by Joanna Jiang