Magnolias Milan


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Magnolias Milan being a duo consisting of Patrick Waldren and Mike Landucci, it makes sense that the 2K album appeared on Landucci's legendary Blackbean and Placenta label. Its enjoyably stripped down packaging -- pink paper, a drawing of buildings and a face, and not much more -- belies the results to an extent. Far from being some a random bit of indie sweetness veering into too cute for words territory, 2K is almost a tribute to the efforts of the likes of Michael Morley or This Kind of Punishment. There's the same 'four tracks are all you need' aesthetic, swathing of echo on vocals or else complete near-withdrawal in the overall mix, and occasional overdrive on feedback in classic New Zealand crumbling tape fashion. If songs like "Many Years" were recorded in a more conventional fashion, arguably they'd be more conventional songs, but the way they sound is just as important as what they are. There are moments of quite serene beauty throughout as well -- "I'd Get Used To It" is a particular winner, buried vocals from Waldren softly keening in the distance while a steady drum pulse and stately but calm keyboards play along. Landucci's later guitar part adds just enough quiet spark. "Talking Trees" is even more calmly beautiful, a synth-led number that suggests Orange Cake Mix's own such explorations, yet somehow all the more fragile, while "Lisa," with its scrabbling feedback and lovely keyboards working incredibly well together. "Poor Poor Muhammad" is the ringer here -- if it's meant to be a parody of Arabic music, it's bemusing enough vocally, though musically things continue in the odd, cryptic fashion of the rest of the album. Best song title: "Japanese Doll/Song for England('s Sake)."