Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Retro Psychedelic Review: Purson-Desire’s Magic Theatre

Genre:  Retro Psychedelic
Release Date: 29th April 2016
Label: Spinefarm Records

Formed initially in 2011 by Rosalie Cunningham, George Hudson, Samuel Shove, Barnaby Maddick and Jack Hobbs, Purson released singles in 2012 (Rocking Horse) and early 2013 (Leaning On A Bear) before the debut album appeared later in 2013, The Circle and the Blue Door. There then followed another single release in 2013 (The Contract/Blueprint of the Dream) and in 2014, the 4 track EP, In The Meantime.

Moving forward to 2016, Purson have just released their second full length album, Desire’s Magic Theatre. This is a 10 track album with a running time just over 44 minutes (44:20) and a shortest track, track 7, “The Way It Is,” playing for 2:42 minutes, with the final track, “The Bitter Suite” being the longest on offer at 7:11 minutes.

The band behind the new album, Desire’s Magic Theatre, are Rosalie Cunningham (guitars and vocals), George Hudson (guitars), Samuel Robinson (keyboards), Justin Smith (bass) and Raphael Mura (drums), with Rosalie and George being original members of the band.

First up on this new release is the title track, “Desire’s Magic Theatre” (6:23) which starts with a train, some cheering and then morphs into a slow thumper of a track with a bass that would best be described as “intentionally fuzzy.” Rosalie’s vocals carry the song along and from time to time, the fuzz bass gets a rest. Around 2 minutes into the music, the whole song gets turned on its head and becomes almost gentile before evolving into swirling organ behind the voice, then goes through several tempo changes before the track starts to build up again. There is also a false stop around the 5 minute mark, before the flute and the swirling organ combine to escort the track out. This is an intriguing opener as it changes direction so many times and I will admit to having mixed feelings. Sometimes I feel this opening track is great, other times, not so, but this is a very personal view.

Apart from the play on words with the title of track 2, “Electric Landlady” (4:00), the music simply shouts “Hendrix” at you, although the vocals from Rosalie are far removed from the man. Astute listeners may also catch a little bit of the Dr. Who theme a couple of times in the intro, or is that just me? This is another track that takes sudden shifts into different styles, but for some reason, this seems to work on this track more than the opening track.

Further on in the album, “Mr Howard” (4:16) has a start that recalls Norman Greenbaums’ “Spirit In The Sky” before it quickly fills with chunky guitars and superb swirling organ themes. Rosalie’s voice is in good form and the song simply motors along. The keyboards get a chance to really shine from around 1 minute into the track and the sound becomes more psychedelic with vocals to match. Around the 3 minute mark, the guitar gets the chance to show off a bit before the excellent organ takes over behind the voice again.

The longest, and last, track on Desire’s Magic Theatre, “The Bitter Suite” (7:24) starts off with dramatic piano, strings and a vocal which hints at soundtrack music and then slowly builds. There is a definite hint of “Bond….James Bond” about the opening couple of minutes before the keyboards and the flute take over. This then reverts to the original theme for a short time before moving into a jazz based section. The flute dances away happily as the vocal takes on an echo effect and there is a tempo change, driven along by the bass. The band, with this track, show how good musicians they are as the unfolding of the track sees the music fly off in many directions. As the track fades, we once again hear the sound of the train which disappears off into the distance.

I find this album, Desire’s Magic Theatre, a bit of a conundrum, as I enjoy some parts more than others, but you could spend all of your time trying to identify where themes and snatches of music have originated from, rather than enjoying the music. Having said that, I feel that the album is one that will require many plays for you to find its musical niche, and as yet, I haven’t, but I think that many people will enjoy this album immensely. 

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Electric Landlady, Mr Howard, The Bitter Suite

01. Desire’s Magic Theatre
02.  Electric Landlady
03.  Dead Down Dodo
04.  Pedigree Chums
05.  The Sky Parade
06.  The Window Cleaner
07.  The Way It Is
08.  Mr Howard
09.  I Know
10.  The Bitter Suite

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk
June 22, 2016
Review Provided By Write A Music Review

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