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Magik Markers - A Panegyric To The Things I Do Not Understand

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Artist: Magik Markers

Album: A Panegyric To The Things I Do Not Understand

Label: Gulcher

Review date: Feb. 26, 2006

Elisa Ambrogio is wont to wear self-awareness like a smock, feigning parody “frontman” extroversion and hyperactive libido to the point of grotesque caricature, spouting non sequitur scribbles of insta-poesy that clumsily crowd into thought balloons deftly punctured by assaults carried out by band-mates Leah Quimby and Pete Nolan; spread-eagled squalls that vacuum up bow-legged cockrock notion along with “sensitive” avant-garde miniaturism – reductionist plip-plop as neo-Stooges chest-thump. Music of this type has forever been provided with its polemicists, its apologists, which is as good a subtext as one’s going to get to explain the title of this proper release, a cryptic statement either zeroing in on ponderous amounts of fringe culture encomium for the band itself, or a classical way of dealing with current frustration re: objects of praise.

Panegyric is comprised of two long tracks, both which work from improv’s stubborn crescendo/decrescendo methodology; the first falling into place with Nolan’s synthesis of motorik and “garage rock” drumming, while bass and guitar redistrict instrumental confines, four-stings aping six and vice versa; sounds achieved by musical primitivism – adroit takes on anti-technique that will – and have – lead the critical horde to name checking equations heavy on No-Wave, early Punk – even Rockabilly anti-heroes. In minutes the trio melts down into what sounds like a reworking of the Stooges’ “We Will Fall,” replacing water-torture riff repetition with manic whistling; violin with what sounds like singing-saw. Ambrogio trances out in her usual vocal gargle, spitting Situationist tinged verbalisms into bottomless brass spittoons.

Both tracks are completely dominated by her vocals: There’s iconoclasm and playful takes on Pop Americana as tired paradigms: Barbie doll sexpots, Las Vegas, indistinct politicos. Words are licked into shape; laved free of pretension and represented in interesting and often-hilarious new configurations, like word-and-phrase kitchen magnets attacked into place by Chuck Barris, Friedrich Engels, a nympho drill-team member from Anytown, USA.

Track two mixes “free” drumming with guitar strangling – tonal scratches and scrapes colliding with cymbal sizzle, pitter-patter tom-tom pulses. Ambrogio again waxes glossolalist, an endless grope for adequate wording that inevitably slips into wordlessness, complementing the unnerving cacophony with onanistic mewing – just the sort of thing that’s going to render a legion of hipster males with broken wrists and hazy, sated smiles.

And it’s all over far too quickly. Those eschewing sticky lap’d manipulation will likely be left wanting more as Panegyric, despite its 40 minute length, is far too brief – a snapshot enveloped by I Trust My Guitar, Etc.’s 60-foot shadow. Perhaps this is just the point with its casual one-off sound serving to distract from what’s going on behind the sheet – a fine-tuning that’s yet to be finished.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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