Piano Magic

Seasonally Affective

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Seasonally Affective comes along to save Piano Magic fans from collector scum hell, and now the light no longer shines out of the 200 behinds that own the Amongst the Books an Angel 7". The boring details: This double-disc-priced-as-a-single-disc set chronologically anthologizes the group's non-album releases that hit specialty record emporiums (and likely went home with the savvy clerks before they hit the shelves) between 1996 and 2000. It includes seven singles in their entirety from labels like Che, Wurlitzer Jukebox, Piao!, Bad Jazz, Acetone, and Rocket Girl. Their split single contributions with Icebreaker and Matmos -- from the Debut and Lissy's labels, respectively -- are contained, as are four tracks that originated on various-artist compilations. The hopefully not-boring details: This works for dedicated ears and curious ears alike. Since Piano Magic's personnel and therefore sound changes drastically from record to record, none of the proper studio LPs provide an accurate summation of what they're about like this does. Spectral electronic experimentation ("Wrong French"), cobwebbed autumnal pop ("The Fun of the Century"), eerie isolationist voodoo ("Music for Annahbird"), soundtracks for toy makers ("For Engineers A"), primitive video game music ("Music for Rolex"), and throw in a New Order/Harvest label sound-clash ("The Biggest Lie") to top it off -- it's all here in some shape or form. So, what listeners get here is a lot of hopping around, and most of it's great. As one is likely to get an evenly split division of results when asking a group of fans where the best place to start is, skip the entire process and start here. While the varying approaches might sound like dilettantism, Piano Magic's restless creative energy should be viewed as a thrilling ride, the direct opposite of a clueless spelunking expedition through the caves of pop.

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