Morgan Caney and Kamal Joory: Magic Radios
City Centre Offices

Released by Berlin's City Centre Offices in the fall of 2002, Magic Radios is a remarkable marriage of warm electronics and acoustic elements. Apparently Joory (aka Geiom) and Caney began working on it in 2000, with the result a shimmering jewel of sound whose every track evidences a stunning attention to sonic detail, and whose aural invocation of memory generates a timeless feel. Magic Radios is suite-like, its ten tracks fitting together like a classically composed song-cycle, each part in its proper place and sequence.

It begins with the gorgeous, melancholy “Blanket,” its night sounds flickering around the electronic campfire. Glistening tones and chattering cicadas place the listener within a mysterious, deep forest, whilst a gorgeous melody emerges from the ambient setting. Unison lines of horns and flutes open “3000 miles,” and are soon joined by cymbal accents and a panning breakbeat that announce an abrupt change of mood from the opening track. Natural instruments abound: clarinets and whistles evoke a dark jungle in “Crossing,” flutes, guitars, and horns create a rustic, exotic air in “Take My Light,” and cowbells, flutes, and clarinet evoke the dark aura of night in the dirge-like “Sexy Wicka.” In “Flyaway,” distant rumbles fade in, soon joined by keyboard glissandos, percussive accents, saxophones, vocals, and a plaintive, rising synthesizer melody that echoes distantly. With its vibraphones, violin, and acoustic guitar, the lovely “Darling” conjures a campfire ambience. Its haunting folk chant recalls the distant traces of days long past, whereas the layered waves of guitars, bell accents, and dark tones in the closing ‘Darling remix' create a shimmering bed of melancholy.

Caney and Joory weave an expansive tapestry that colours their compositions with a wistfulness reminiscent of Morr Music staples Isan and Herrmann and Kleine, and mines a similar folktronic vein to that of Greg Davis, Múm, and Wechsel Garland. Yet it is the richness of their instrumental arrangements that most distinguishes this release. Even a cursory listen reveals the care with which they have created the sound world of each track. Acoustic elements like flutes, acoustic guitars, vibes, strings, horns, and vocals blend with electronic keyboards, processing, and effects to create a spatial realm of becalmed bliss. Given its superior quality, it would be a shame to see Magic Radios get overlooked in the wake of an ever-expanding glut of new releases. Ultimately, while it is not groundbreaking, within the melodic folktronic territory it inhabits, it does so at a superior level and offers a deeply satisfying listening experience.

January 2003