Whenever you bump into extraordinarily creative bands who delve in experimental music for the most part, a good place to start, is by reading the album liner notes. It always gives you an insight into what the creators of the music intended, or set out to do. After which time we may listen and decide if they achieved that goal or not. Liner notes have all but disappeared in the digital download age, but every now and then somebody will remember its significance and include them. Such is the case with the band Peasant Magic whose liner notes for the album, “Precursive”, reads:
“Precursive is the 8th album of the Peasant Magic project. This album marks the end of the 3-year period which saw the projects’ inception, the writing process (which would eventually come to be a body of work), and the development of the bands’ unique sound. This album is a collection of instrumental songs, each illustrating the ideas and emotions present during the writing period. The album is a non-verbal attempt to communicate a multitude of ideas- to say much without saying anything.”
What the liner notes don’t say is that Peasant Magic is an entirely solo project, which includes writing, performance, and production of the music. But even before you hear one single note of music, you will be struck by another noticeable eccentricity – the song titles.
Each song has a one-word title, and depending on your command of the English language, you may find yourself spending the same amount of time looking up the meaning of these words as you are listening to the songs themselves. A few significant examples may be “Epigones”, “Ecmnesia”, “Hesychast” or “Noctivagant”. There are 16 tracks, so you’ll have plenty words to discover.
The instrumental music here is as varied as the song titles. If anything Peasant Magic knows how to craft beautiful atmospheres that almost demand to ‘soundtrack’ something. It doesn’t necessarily require a visual accompaniment, but it stimulates the imagination – in a word, its transportive music.
Almost all these songs border on the three-and-a-half-minute duration time, which is another anomaly in instrumental music. Usually these types of songs prefer to linger on, explore and uncover itself…more than once if possible. Instead Peasant Magic wastes no time kicking into any gear he wishes to, getting straight to the beat on “Analects”, for example.
Nor is he afraid to tease a single emotional swell for a lengthy period on the very next track, “Hortative”. Yet the magic in all of this is that he can do it in a shorter amount of time than is usually expected.
Pianos and synths abound as Peasant Magic showcases his ability to musically dwell on floating ambience, less building than existing, or how he can give way to driving bass rhythms, where the arrangements turn ominous, hurling into the unexpected. I particularly enjoyed this dramatic effect on tracks like “Exoteric”, “Motile” and “Hesychast”.
Juxtaposing this with the album’s heavenly tail-enders, “Noctivagant” and “Ubiety”, puts the emotional range of this artist on full display. In fact Peasant Magic shows that huge emotional payoffs can be reached without requiring long songs to do it. With attention spans waning, and the listener’s need for instant gratification ever more persistent, Peasant Magic’s compositions on “Precursive”, absolutely fit the times.