Magical Beautiful
"Here Come The Wild Waves" LP (limited to 500) / download
Released 06/24/2011 in Chicago, IL
Purchase physical/digital copy here.
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A1 Heaven Underwater . A2 Purest Place . A3 Silverado . A4 Ghetto Tourist . A5 I Hear A New World (Joe Meek) . B1 On The Shore Today . B2 Flaming Home (Phil Elverum) . B3 White Whale Song . B4 Wild Waves
(Note: the album is seamless, apart from one small break on Side A; deciphering track changes can be difficult.)

TYSON TORSTENSEN: voice, keyboards, programming, production, songwriting, engineering, mixing, graphic design, band member, etc.
NICK BROSTE: organs, horns, engineering, mixing, band member, etc.
CHARLIE VINZ: stringed instruments, voice, artwork, band member, etc.
ALANCE WARD: drums, melodica, graphic design, band member, etc.
COLBY STARCK (Bobby Conn, Head Of Femur): drums on Wild Waves
LINDSAY POWELL (Ga’an, Fielded, Festival): vocals on Purest Place

Magical Beautiful is a Chicago quartet playing supremely dubbed-out, psychedelic synth pop. Founded in 2006 by piano teacher Tyson Torstensen, Here Come The Wild Waves is their first proper full-length, the product of four years of studio experimentation. Over this time, Magical Beautiful self-released many other records, hand-packaged, confounding and full of care. From full-group improvisations to DJ mixes to solo piano recordings, these releases are important steps, yet even taken as a whole, do not prepare the listener for the epic structure that is HCTWW.

An album in the truest sense, with a program pause only to switch sides, HCTWW was built to be listened to in one sitting. Side A side opens with the quiet chorus of an early Spring, and ends with the exultant joy of a late Summer night. Side B enters with a horn calling for Autumn, then proceeds to crawl through a bleak Chicago Winter. The final minutes of this song cycle wake the listener with a surprising modulation to a major key, encouragement to flip the record to start the year anew.

In the tradition of Brian Eno's last two pop albums of the 1970's, HCTWW includes ambient pieces interspersed with the "normal" songs. Unlike Eno's records, the instrumental bits are embedded within the songs themselves- daydreams from the heavy religious-family narratives about which Torstensen sings. The ambient pieces are built upon hijacked sections of other songs - "Heaven Underwater" is Vinz's choral backing from “Purest Place" slowed down a whole-step, while "White Whale Song" was built around a live group improvisation. This aggressive sound manipulation can be linked to the studio experimentation of dub producer Lloyd "Bullwackie" Barnes, Krautrock engineer Conny Plank and early pop fantasist Joe Meek. The latter's still-peerless production, "I Hear A New World" is covered here in near-unrecognizable form. Another, more contemporary sound obsessive, Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie; The Microphones), is re-imagined on the B-side - MB transforms his "Flaming Home" from a plaintive, spare meditation on natural loneliness to an expansive, stoned epic. Anchored by Ward's drums, (rendered massive through Broste's engineering), "Flaming Home" is perhaps the best example of MB's unique attention to sonic detail. New sounds crawl from the shadows upon each listen, with onion-peel layers of echo and stereo-panned detail – this cubist approach to production makes HCTWW a superb headphone album.

The album comes to a head with “Wild Waves”, a 9-minute reflection on Torstensen’s tangled family trip aboard a massive Caribbean cruise ship (see also: “Ghetto Tourist”; the Right Rock). Following a malfunctioning synth, Torstensen invokes several characters: the ship itself, The Caribbean Princess; Pink Man, clueless tourist; Captain, ship celebrity; and the narrator, drunk at Seńor Frogs after getting mugged on his search for the “real” Jamaica. Digital waves wash over the first half of the song, and Vinz’s banjo emerges for a 3-minute nap on a private beach, awoken by a drunken conga line of sun-burned synthesizers.

While master-minded by Torstensen (also a member of minimalist prog heroes GA’AN, whose Lindsay Powell appears on backing vocals here), one only needs to listen to the solo EP Right Rock (2008) to hear the massive influence Broste, Vinz and Ward have exacted upon Magical Beautiful. They are the glue that keeps MB’s rickety space-scraper from toppling back to earth. All members are life-long, multi-talented musicians who have played in bands as varied as Wilco, Akron/Family and Casiotone For The Painfully Alone.

Here Come The Wild Waves is not easily described – it’s a disorienting, three-dimensional record that takes multiple listens to grasp. The scope may be intimidating, but the songs are hook-filled and well-crafted, with magical realist stories of Mormon ritual, spiritual confoundedness, class enlightenment and sea-fuelled fantasy. Listen closely - you will be rewarded.

Contact email is ihearanewworld(AT)gmail.com