Music Reviews
Friends Forever

Magas Friends Forever

(Ersatz Audio) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

 Magas has an engagingly unique voice in the electronic underground, in that he sounds like a 50s rock n' roll legend fronting a band made up of hotwired arcade driving games (this is a good thing, in case you were wondering).

Cheaper and Slower is a vengeful, hard-edged Be-Bop-a-Lula with a 200-volt battery up its arse and the sexual intent of a long-term prisoner who just tunnelled his way into a whorehouse. Elsewhere, as on Dead Quasars, he comes across like Lux Interior, with a reverb-heavy, staccato delivery that gives you the impression that he was being electrocuted in the studio while he was recording it. The heroically dumb Into the Void sounds like the soundtrack to a cheap Italian zombie movie, and as for the bonus CD track Toys (Redux), try to imagine what kind of songs John Lydon circa-PiL would be writing if he'd grown up listening to electro in a sex shop. Now stop imagining, because you're nowhere near. In fact, the difficulty of defining Magas' music is that, as is the case with most interesting artists in our culturally literate climate, it is virtually impossible to imagine what the fuck he was thinking when he wrote any of these songs. He's probably a genius. Even on the apparently weaker songs like Hard to Detect, the production by Magas and Adult.'s Adam Lee Miller and the sheer assurance of the delivery ensures a swift victory of style over substance (and anyway, substance was always over-rated).

The beauty of the album, once you have overcome the initial disorientation of hearing something that you cannot safely and quickly pigeonhole, is that with every listen different tracks stand out, and I still find that after countless listens my preferences are constantly moving back and forth between tracks. For example, a few sentences ago I was saying that Hard to Detect was one of the weaker tracks. I renounce that opinion: since I wrote it, it's become one of my favourites. Again. The synths bubble and lunge, or stab and scatter patterns across the surface; sometimes they sound thick and dense; at other times they scrape and scour.

Throughout Friends Forever, the cheap and nasty tunes (when played at the correct volume, i.e. full) are never less than viscerally danceable, with Lovecompressor and Too Much Fear being prime examples. One of the most alluring aspects of the music that has been grouped under the heading electroclash is also the aspect that may alienate many who hear Friends Forever: the harsh, throwaway minimalism, the cheap and dirty style and refusal to offer comfort or to kowtow to trad-rock conventions of depth may deter the casual listener (and, I'm guessing, not many people who aren't already fans of the Ersatz Audio roster will hear it). It's simultaneously rock music without a soul and dance music that replaces euphoria with malicious, deviant intent. That said, the album as a whole is an affirmation of feeling over reason, and of individuality over the easily understandable, and as such it at once both represents and transcends (through direct action rather than lip service) the ideology of its time.

It may take a while to endear itself to the listener, and cynicism informs me that it will be criminally overlooked, but anyone who is unhindered by preconceptions and with the time to engage with it as a whole will find something unique, driven by a strange and individual mindset, which is something that everyone who loves music must surely be seeking.