A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Magik Markers are a good representation of where the underground is at, at present. They released over 50 albums, splits, CDRs, and tapes of raw, unfettered psych noise before going on hiatus after 2009’s Balf Quarry.
With Surrender To The Fantasy, Elisa Ambrogio, Pete Nolan, and new bassist John Shaw, return from the desert with 8 quick, sharp, fast songs, all the better to further their mission of disorienting noise.
It’s a good thing, too, as the trio are hellacious songwriters. Ambrogio is the queen of hooky, memorably, melodic guitar lines; this is psych rock, sure, but not limited to Hendrix-isms and Grateful Dead rehash. At times, tenuous tone resembles the tenuous, baroque post-punk of Felt, and the serrated edge of Tom Verlaine on Television‘s Marquee Moon, managing to sound both cheap and classic at the same time. It forms a brambled bedrock for Ambrogio’s vocals to hover over, disembodied and far away, sultry and deadpan at the same time. It actually made me WANT to know what she is saying, which is a minor miracle as i could usually give two hooves for lyrics. It all speaks to the allure of Magik Markers incantations.
Half of Surrender To The Fantasy was recorded in the attic of Dinosaur Jr.‘s J Mascis, in Amherst, MA, while the rest was cobbled together from damp practice spaces all over the East Coast. It definitely sounds lo-fi, which means it sounds real and honest, made by real musicians for real music lovers. It makes me like it more, as is the case with most of the funky artifacts that come out of Drag City’s stables.
To be honest, i know i have heard Magik Markers before, during the psychedelic deluge of the 2000s. I remember Thurston Moore was quite smitten, and seeing their name next to new wave psych warriors like Wooden Wand, MV & EE and Mouthus. I remember liking what i heard, but i can’t remember what i heard, just vague impressions, like some far-off dream. Hearing these songs, these melodies, these voices, these fingers on strings and sticks on stretched skin, compels me. It makes me want to go back and hear that landslide of ferric tape and etched wax. I feel like this is the way, the opportunity; for noise and experimentation to meet craft and musicality.
So many thanks to Drag City for being kind enough to reach out and remind me of why i love psychedelic music so much, and of the glories of this bunch of wizards. Magik Markers are clearly married to their music, and this kind of devotion must be rewarded. If yr new to the show, this is a great place to climb on board and discover a whole new wyrd continent.
Grab A Copy: Surrender to the Fantasy