Monday, November 21, 2016

CHOON OF THE DAY: "MALIBU FUN" - Midnight Magic + "Free From Your Spell" Review

Summer 2010 was when Planet Music was first introduced to Midnight Magic. The arrival of the perennial bona fide disco anthem “Beam Me Up” was a sonic statement that echoed across underground dancefloors all over the globe. The band’s phenomenal debut single, released by Munich’s Permanent Vacation, was accompanied by Jacques Renault’s instantly anthemic remix and the song remains a truly authentic disco classic, reviving the genre’s vitality for the XXI century.

The vibrant mélange of space, afro and cosmic disco may have dominated this nine-person dance troupe’s first EP “What The Eyes Can’t See” but it was the undeniable synth-pop coolness of “Calling Out” which attracted the most attention.

“Drop Me A Line” quickly became Midnight Magic’s signature track with its delicious array of vintage synthesisers, delectably ever-changing melody and yet another exhilarating vocal performance from the band’s incomparable diva Tiffany Roth. Following the release of the single featuring mixes by an entourage of first class electronic producers (The Juan MacLean, Mano le Tough and Steffi) the Brooklyn disco funk ensemble dropped their highly anticipated debut LP, collaborated with Tommie Sunshine on the euphoric “I Found Love” and went on to support Holy Ghost! and Cut Copy during their tours.

The self-released “Walking The Midnight Streets” was a sleekly produced decadent explosion of hedonistic beats, rich horns, tropical flavours, early electro and slow-motion disco moments. A unique collection of songs, some of which could easily have passed for genuine lost gems from the 70’s or 80’s. The title track stands out as one of the prime examples of Roth’s exquisite and impressively wide-ranging vocal acrobatics.

Keeping continuously busy with countless dj sets, hi-energy gigs and remixes (for La Roux, Cut Copy, Holy Ghost!, Azari & III, Kamp! among others) Midnight Magic managed to return with some of their most sophisticated, if slightly darker, productions on their “Vicious Love” EP released in 2014 via Soul Clap Records. “Trouble T” was arguably the band’s most compelling composition at the time. An utter masterpiece beguiling the listeners with its impeccable vocal harmonies, a mosaic of fascinatingly unpredictable melody twists and the aura of an immediate dancefloor essential for all the underground disco aficionados. No wonder SHREM'S CAROUSEL OF ÜBER NERDINESS chose it as the 2014 Song of the Year in our annual countdown.

2016 sees Midnight Magic ready to enchant us once more with the much-anticipated birth of their 2nd studio album, the wondrously eclectic "Free from Your Spell". Going back to their roots in Los Angeles, Morgan Wiley and W. Andrew Raposo, alongside the rest of the boogie nonet, have prepared a refined feast of genre-bending songs. Tiffany Roth is confidently on top of her vocal game, somehow even more versatile than before, exploring the lower registers of her one of a kind voice like in the sensual “Malibu Fun”. The ravishing horn section is back. So are the imminent midnight stompers like the irresistible opening track “I Gotta Feeling” or the impossibly joyous, trumpet-laden “Dark Thunder” – your future party playlist must-have, a track which could be interpreted as a subtle homage to Grace Jones’ “Feel Up”. “Dark Thunder” is an amalgamation of 80’s disco, early house and summery dub, which fittingly introduces the next track, the exotic, quasi-reggae, sunshine-dipped moment that is “Black Cherry”. Almost Oriental with its clarinet solo, the song fades away hypnotically as if taken from some mysteriously unreleased David Lynch movie… It would sound spectacular live at Silencio should the band ever plan to return to the Parisian club.

The ever so diverse moods of "Free from Your Spell" make it a seductive journey. With each song mixed seamlessly into the next, the record coalesces into one long disco odyssey, reminiscing Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer’s concept albums "Four Seasons of Love" and "A Love Trilogy". The rare groove of “Own Me”, the meticulous, multi-layers of “Down Delay”, the bouncy, throbbing beats of “Sea Of Love” and “Bad Foot” with its funk à la Paisley Park, would be to name just a few of the LP’s highlights. Moods, genres and styles intertwine like an aural kaleidoscope, the album electrifying with its striking harmony. Whilst exuberantly borrowing from past decades, "Free from Your Spell" more than holds its own as a self-assured, innovative body of work.

Midnight Magic - "Dark Thunder" from Salt Style on Vimeo.

Midnight Magic’s "Free from Your Spell" is an offer one can’t refuse. An attractive deal in the form of disco escapism, travelling through its various shades, emotions and incarnations, a comprehensive revival of the genre for modern ears. It’s Studio 54. It’s Moroder, Amanda Lear, Gino Soccio and Grace Jones. It’s a whole palette of 1980’s r’n’b and cosmic funk. Despite all the music references of past eras "Free from Your Spell" is very much a current album, a mature demonstration of genuine skills in songwriting, a multi-instrumental banquet of sounds, a coherent collection of ambitious dance tracks and a beautiful celebration of eclecticism. Add to this some of Tiffany Roth’s most memorable vocals to date and you arrive at one of the year’s most exciting releases. There is a strong reason for both “midnight” and “magic” in the name of the band after all.

Order your vinyl copy of "Free from Your Spell" HERE