Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Album Review: "Desire's Magic Theater" by Purson

Desire's Magic Theater

It is regrettable the evolution of music usually tends to bury its forbearing styles in the past.  

If 50s rock was great in the 50s, why can’t a band play that same sound now and attract the ears of the world. Sure there are some bands trading in on this style, but they don’t seem to get much traction.  Similarly, Steel Panther has acquired a significant fan base by mirroring 80s glam metal, but I am not quite sure if they are in tribute to this glorious era or mocking it. 

I think there is room in the musical landscape for reinventions of many sounds left in the wake of progress.  The music of the late 60s and early 70s has never spent too much time in my cd player, still I would prefer the sounds of this era not be left to die on dusty record shelves.  

Perhaps there has never been a band to more perfectly retroactively capture an era and a style than Purson has with their modern take on late 60s psychedelic rock.  And they have seemingly done this with enough flare and edge to win over even metal fans such as myself.

I first became aware of Purson when I heard their song “Spiderwood Farm” on the radio about a year ago.  I stopped what I was doing and scribbled their name down on a piece of paper for further investigation.  They reentered my consciousness as the opening act for Ghost on their 2015 North American tour.  

This was a well designed bill, teaming up two bands who were early into having gathered attention for their unique sound.  Although no one would ever mistake the bands for one another, their common element was an edgy and melodic element which sounded both classic and utterly new.  Although, most of the audience may not have been previously familiar with Purson, by their third song they had clearly won respect and raucous cheers. 

Thus, it was with great anticipation I approached their new album, “Desire’s Magic Theatre”, and was not disappointed. It is a time travel reintroduction to the era of hippies, flower power, and the glory of Woodstock I am too young to remember.  The time has come to reimagine this music for those of us who missed it the first time around.  If this same album were released in 1968 it would surely be considered a classic.

Rosalie Cunningham’s vocals and lyrics are a kaleidoscopic view of the world, set against a shifting musical backdrop which is both haunting and happy in a way folk music uniquely achieves.  

Integral to their success in achieving an authentic sound on this album was the band’s use of period vintage instruments and the antiquated process of reel to reel recording.  

This speaks to the skill of a band who could not rely on modern recording techniques to produce perfect takes.  The results are there.

Shades of Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Norman Greenbaum and Jefferson Airplane can be heard cropping up throughout, yet the album maintains a unique take on these classic stylings.    

The album really hits its stride at track five with “The Sky Parade”.  If you purchase just one song, this is where the complexity and wispy thematic grandeur of Purson is best encapsulated.  The upbeat rocker “The Way It Is” will also have you doing a psychedelic trance dance in no time. 

My favorite track, “Mr. Howard” has hit written all over it as it skips along proudly evoking their influences at every turn. It might be the Purson song which finally establishes itself in the public consciousness.   Purson has long been skirting the edge of mainstream commercial success, and “Desire’s Magic Theatre”  has all the hallmarks of a breakout album.   

Release: 4/29/2016
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Label: Spinefarm Records

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