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Piano Magic / Klima | What Does Not Destroy Me / Christmas Day (Monopsone)
Despite Glen Johnson's promise to keep Piano Magic as a one album/one label operation, this second post-4AD release sees the band hitch themselves to Le Mans-based label Monopsone, for a split seven inch with French native outfit Klima (led by Johnson's beau and erstwhile Piano Magic guest vocalist, Angèle David-Guillou).  Eschewing the epic post-apocalyptic thrust and languor of their last outing (the spellbinding 'Speed The Road, Rush The Lights' EP), Piano Magic's track - What Does Not Destroy Me - is a minimal and deeply mesmerising slice of midnight melancholy.  Sonically pitched somewhere between the skeletal voice/synth combination of Sketch For Joanne (from the group's own 'Seasonally Affective' compilation) and the more ethereal moments from last year's ill-fated 'Writers Without Homes' album for 4AD, we find Johnson intoning the mantra-like line "What does not destroy me, can only make me stronger" with the spooked grace fans know and love him for.  Undoubtedly a red herring to confound those who will eventually hear the band's next full-length record - which from a sneak preview spin reveals the band expanding brilliantly upon the 'Speed The Road...' template - this is nevertheless another essential curio for the band's steadily swelling non-album catalogue.  The flipside from Klima certainly isn't too far removed from the Piano Magic dictum, and it's hard not to suspect Johnson of contributing glitchy electro-percussion and mournful guitar lines, yet the song does give Angèle David-Guillou a chance to prove herself as almost an equal to Johnson's lyrical muse.  Pondering the eternal sadness of seasons turning for the worse, with her comforting and unaffected voice, it's hard not realise why Johnson fell for her both creatively and romantically.  Two bands, one combined act of beatific sadness, hunt those import release outlets forthwith.

Adrian Pannett
November-December 2003

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