Magda: From the Fallen Page
There's an immediate appeal to Magda's From the Fallen Page that simply comes from it being so atypically loose compared to how one anticipates a Minus release will sound. Oh, sure, Magda's funky space jams are sufficiently precision-tooled, but they also exude a meandering quality that brings out their distinctly human side. The novelty of that detail only counts for so much, however, and the album ultimately has to succeed or fail on its own merits. One of things that does distinguish the experimental album is its marriage of bumping dance grooves to an unusually macabre electronic design (Magdalena Chojnacka, we're told, set out to create a “post-punk, dark disco set of soundtrack-inspired music” but allowed the project to evolve into the form it gradually assumed).
“Get Down Goblin” (wonderful title) starts her hour-long debut album strongly with two minutes of spooky ambiance and “Autobahn”-styled languor before fixing itself in place with a chunky bass riff and neon-lit synth surges. A funkier edge gradually sneaks in that gives the track extra kick, and you'd be justified in thinking that the album might continue its sweet ride for the duration. “Your Love Attack” isn't quite at the opener's level but rights itself with the arrival of a bass-dragging and claps-driven disco groove halfway through, and “Distance to Nowhere” also memorably merges haunted house atmosphere and low-end rhythmning. At album's end, “Japan” cruises down the “Autobahn” a final time and, on this trip, splatters its funked-up pulse with Doppler-esque smears and spritzes of bright synthesizer colour.
That aforesaid looseness sometimes translates into listlessness, however. “Breakout,” for instance, boasts a wiry and funky melodic attack but is weakened by a rather lethargic bottom end that needs to be harder and tighter, and the featherweight groove makes the track sag when it should be digging in. “Music Box” also nicely weaves together Kraftwerk-styled melodic flourishes, a chiming interlude, and bass-heavy foundation, though once again the groove feels more sluggish than it should.
The other major weakness is that From the Fallen Page 's ten tracks could do with stronger narrative arcs. Many of them appear, explore various pathways, and then end without ever building in any dramatic way. “Entertainment,” for instance, alternates between atmospheric and beat-based episodes for eight minutes without ultimately amounting to anything terribly significant. More often than not, it's isolated elements and snatches of sound that catch the ear rather than whole tracks. One perks up at the low-slung bass dragging its way through “Little Bad Habits” but not much else registers. Add up the checks and balances and From the Fallen Page turns out to be a rather frustrating album boasting as many highs as lows.