Yep, I guess it’s that Ecstatic Peace time of the week again. Today’s offering from Thurston Moore‘s imprint – maybe my favourite label of 2007, certainly the one I’ve written about most – is the jamming new album by Connecticut’s Magik Markers.
I have one other Magik Markers album, whose name eludes me. It’s a pretty prickly old racket, if memory serves, being cranked-up free noise from the scarier extremes of the new American underground scene. Great live, I bet, but a bit tricky to live with.
“Boss”, though, is, well, not exactly a sell-out, but certainly what we could call a focusing of their powers. It reminds me a bit of how Royal Trux drifted into focus around the time of “Thank You”, with a take on blues-rock that’s at once divine and rancorous, primal and avant-garde. Magik Markers are a boy-girl duo, too: Pete Nolan on drums and stuff, the extraordinary Elisa Ambrogio on vocals and lead guitar.
It’s easy, and I guess a bit lazy, to slot Ambrogio into a certain lineage that includes Kim Gordon (the incantatory clang of “Axis Mundi”) and also Patti Smith. The superb “Last Of The Lemach Line” finds her chanting, “I am the secular Pentecost, Squeezing out the blue snake,” while hitting some really profound chords.
This is beautiful and intense stuff, and I’m drawn to quote some excellent notes (that read like they were written by Thurston or Byron Coley, maybe), which describe Ambrosio’s guitar playing as “with a mix of blues simplicity, an almost Sonny Sharrock wailing and a janky Americana punk reminiscent of Pat Place and Roky Erickson, Ambrosio avoids preciousness like a rash.” Good writing, and “Boss” deserves it.
Even when she’s less imperious, on a sweet and diffident piano ballad like “Empty Bottles”, Ambrosio sounds like a great force of nature, rich with character and poetry. I’m sure I read somewhere that she figures on the forthcoming Six Organs Of Admittance album, which sounds intriguing: a good person for Chasny to make mischief with.
I don’t seem to be terribly lucid today, so I’ll stop soon, after noting that Nolan is a limber and inventive foil, that Lee Ranaldo produces brilliantly, and that trying to find Magik Markers on Myspace involves a visit to this place, where we learn, “THIS IS NOT A MAGIK MARKERS MYSPAC,THEY DONT HAVE ONE. THIS WAS DONE BY SOME IDIOT,” and ends up at this confusing spot. Very cool band.