Fascinating music

Ian William Craig – “Music for Magnesium_173”

Look – I won’t even pretend to have played Magnesium_173the so-called extremely difficult puzzle game based on quantum mechanics Ian William Craig scored with his latest batch of gear. My brain is too smooth for this kind of mental exercise, even on my best days. This is useless. What I can say in conjunction with the game, however, is that they couldn’t have found a better artist to handle its soundtrack, as Craig embodies its very principles through his work.

What I mean by this is simple: no other artist – at least to my knowledge – is able to distort time and even reality as adeptly as Craig. His physical and digital manipulation of his classically trained voice is spectacular in concept and breathtaking in execution; literally, if you keep in mind the amount of body work he puts into using his tape recorder techniques. Any instrumentation or production effort becomes…not an afterthought, but a subordinate factor to the work Craig does with his hands and vocal cords.

Music for Magnesium_173despite all its eccentricities and experiments, ambient music always remains true Eno-ian meaning, which means it works more or less that the listener engages with it. Satie came up with this idea fun music (‘music cabinet‘) in 1917, and there is no condescension in my mind or in my voice when I call this album a representative of this school of thought; at least to some extent. So yes, Music for Magnesium_173 can be a wonderful cushion to sink into, closer inspection might reveal it to be a twisted and contorted fourth-dimensional time loop about to collapse. So don’t become too comfortable at the moment.

Over 78 minutes of material, Craig displays all his strengths as a musician and composer. Her voice (very frankly magnificent) is, for me, the cornerstone of these sublime soundscapes; the way he manipulates it to form moments of both absolute beauty and abrasion is deeply fascinating. It handles any instrumentation or exterior processing equally well, which is why the end result never feels unbalanced or forced. Songs like the opening “Blue Suit Glitch”, the ecstatic “It’s a Sound, Not an Ocean”, or the choral “Sentimental Drift” are easily some of the best and haunting music he has ever created. These remarkable moments are fleshed out by a cohesive set of no lesser, but simply different songs that form an intensely captivating body of work. Craig is a master of suspense and atmosphere, and this record proves it again and again.

Even though I feel like I’m borderline underselling this record by not delving into the music, you have to understand that a) I really want you to hear it for yourself and b) try to write about this kind of ambient music is like trying to describe the color of the wind – you can’t see it, you have to feel it. Music for Magnesium_173 is another fantastic record from one of the most exciting artists around, and I’m sure Ian William Craig will only continue to grow from now on. You don’t want to miss this one if you like modern vocal music, ambience or drone.