Almost every day I go out and look for a new song or artist to feature on this blog and there are many days where I come up with nothing. Today, in my searches, I went to NPR’s First Listen Series and found myself compelled towards Adele’s 21, which I’m finding it hard to move away from. Having already listened to that album, however, I wanted something truly new. Something I’d simply never heard before. I clicked on a picture of a woman wearing a large white scarf and the album name: The Magic Place. What I was expecting with an album name like that was very different from what I got. I got something truly unexpected and new.
The Magic Place is a gorgeous album informed by hymns of yore, though it carries no particular religious connotations. It is like stepping into a church and instantly feeling a respect for where you are, a sacred holy quality. It may be that most of The Magic Place is based around layers of heavily reverbed vocal loops, but the immense space that this album carries gives it a quiet grandiosity unlike anything I’ve heard recently. Touches of distant-sounding pianos and bass plucks help center the album in a more traditional way, giving the listener a point of interest outside simple acapella; the stunningly beautiful “Bog in Your Gait” begins with heavily nostalgic quality that I’ve only heard once beforte, in Jon Brion’s “Elephant Parade” from the score of Eternal Sunshine.
This may also be one of the most calming albums to appear in 2011. Available on the 22nd of this month (via Sufjan’s label, Asthamtic Kitty), it might be too late for the calm-after-the-storm feel for which it is so apt. The Magic Place is seeped in beauty. The Magic Place is seeped in calm, and quiet. It does not demand a listen, nor does it demand to be heard, but if you listen you shall surely be rewarded.
I can’t think of anything better to post on Valentine’s Day than an album that simply asks you to hear it.