Fitter, Happier, More Productive: Magnetic Morning, A.M.

Feb 17, 2009 at 3:20 pm

(Tuesdays can be a trying day here in Club Land at the RFT. It's deadline day for the show/concert listings, and this fact hangs over my head just like all of those foreboding elementary school (and high school and college) homework assignments that I would inevitably put off to the last minute. But Tuesdays always go off without a hitch, and it's all because the right music always seems to present itself. Each week I'll talk about what induces the trance-like state I need to become one with the listings.)

This Tuesday I was lulled into an introspective state of bliss by the atmopheric sounds of Magnetic Morning the newish project from ex-Swervedriver front man Adam Franklin and Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino.

Fitter, Happier, More Productive: Magnetic Morning, A.M.
Christy Bush

From the first lush chords of this duo's much anticipated debut full-length, A.M., it's clear that the project is going to have little to do with Interpol, and much more with Franklin's mastery of echoing, effects-laden soundscapes. Even in this era of countless "nu-gaze"  bands and overuse of tired and derivative effects manipulation tricks (note to all guitarists: please stop bending down mid-song to play nonsensical swirly jams on your delay pedal), Franklin manages to coax some truly fresh atmospheres which hover above Fogarino's drumming. Layering of multiple-room-mic'd drum kits and flourishes of reverb-drenched percussion, mellotron string samples and echoing piano stabs add to the dreamy vibe.

Elsewhere, some of the gritty sound collages call to mind Radiohead's O.K. Computer, although these warm analog textures don't sound like a rehashing of tired themes. Instead, the mostly slow and somber album conveys a captivating, dreamy sound that draws heavily from '60s psychedelia, Pet Sounds-style use of non-repetetive, anti-pop song arrangements and a warm, roomy production style to accomplish its timeless feel. 

This isn't to say that these songs are over-indulgent or pointlessly sprawling -- most come in around the four-minute mark. Instead, they act like compact musical journeys that cover a lot of ground and pack several motifs into a reletively small amount of time. A.M. is defined by songs like "Indian Summer," a slow-motion pop number driven by lightly percussive acoustic strums that, along with Franklin's somber, breathy vocal melody, holds this floating trudge of twinkling orchestral simulation together.