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A Fantastic Picture

Jimmy Kemper | Thursday, November 21, 2013

By JIMMY KEMPER 

Scene Writer

With “Surrender to the Fantasy,” Magik Markers take us to the nonsensical, artistic realm of noise rock with drifting psychedelic vibes, crashing dissonance and ingenious creativity that could only come from an underground American hipster band. 

It’s been a long time since they’ve rocked-and-rolled or whatever it is they do. Four years, in fact. Magik Markers’ last release was 2009’s “Balf Quarry,” before which they bombarded the music industry with a steady stream of 40 releases in the form of CD-Rs, 7-inch records and singles. Since then, the group has largely been silent, dispersing from their former Connecticut home base and starting families. That is, until “Surrender to the Fantasy,” by far one of the most unconventional albums of this year.

“Surrender to the Fantasy” is a unique piece, combining modern effects, mind-bending psychedelic energy and traditional noise rock in a bizarre whirlwind of emotions. The album kicks off with “Crebs,” a quirky piece submerged in distortion and lingering trails of static. Singer Elisa Ambrogio croons, “Everything about me feels so free,” a testament to how the rest of the album goes. Liberated of traditional notions of tonality, harmony or high production value, “Surrender to the Fantasy” gives Magik Markers a chance to explore deeper, fantastical music than normally afforded on the modern album. 

After “Crebs,” the Magik Markers jump into “Acts of Desperation,” a track with a fun psychedelic groove and a wandering heart. Following this up is “Bonfire,” a rather strange reflection of the American bonfire party, filled with rocking dissonance and a hearty drumbeat. 

From this opening trio, the tone of “Surrender to the Fantasy” quickly shifts to a darker, mind-warped, lackadaisical mood with “Mirrorless,” one of my personal favorites on the album. The guitar on this track echoes against the grainy distortion and makes for a song that is almost catchy on this record without rules. Another highlight from the album includes “American Sphinx Face,” a song featuring a heavy bass line and a hypnotic drone that creates a darkly psychedelic environment and a sublime atmosphere. This song also has some of the most prominently strange, political lyrics, such as “In America every man is a king/ There is no good king except for a dead king,” and “I’m American, like the dream.”

“Young” is by far one of the biggest standouts on this number. It’s a stripped down, acoustic ballad that exposes a more raw,  emotionally expressive type of creativity than what is found on the rest of the album. 

Overall, I’m not entirely sure how I would recommend this album. “Surrender to the Fantasy” definitely is not a record for mainstream audiences, but it was never really meant to be. If you are curious and looking for something different from the typical albums released these days, give it a listen or two. It’s not an album that you will immediately fall in love with, but rather one that grows on the listener over time. The band does at times feel similar to its noise rock predecessors, but Magik Markers have developed a sound that is an evolution of the genre, thanks to the incorporation of modern technology. If you are an advocate of this very niche subgenre of music, definitely give “Surrender to the Fantasy” the attention it deserves. 

Contact Jimmy Kemper at                   jkemper2@nd.edu