Album Reviews

Piano Magic – Son de Mar

UK release date: 6 August 2001

Son de Mar can mean either ‘the sound of the sea’ or ‘born of the sea’, and is the title of the most recent film from Spanish film director Bigas Luna. The story goes that he walked into a Barcelona record shop, heard a Piano Magic track and immediately knew he wanted them to score his next film, ‘a visually ambient (sic) tale of love found, lost, regained and then lost again, all spiced with Luna’s shyless (sic) eroticism against the backdrop of a beautiful Valencian summer’. I guess you have to go see it to discover what that’s all about.

Listening to the soundtrack, consisting of six untitled tracks, there’s certainly a lot of the sea ebbing and flowing in the background (heard out of context it could almost be one of those deep relaxation tapes). Sonorous bells also play a major role, presumably to transport us to somewhere southern and hot. Always evocative, the bells here help to create wonderfully fractured rhythms when heard in conjunction with the rippling, minimalistic keyboards and strings.

Piano Magic was hatched in London in 1996 with a ‘revolving door’ membership policy – so far some 30 members have passed through, including Darren Hayman (Hefner), Pete Astor (The Wisdom of Harry) and David Sheppard (State River Widening). Recorded in five days, Son de Mar features the band’s core members – Glen Johnson (the sole constant), Miguel Marin and Jerome Tcherneyan with the addition of James Topham on viola. As befits a band known for experimental pop melancholia, the overall effect is subtle, elegiac and haunting, and (I can affirm) wonderfully soothing. It also insinuates itself into the brain and becomes almost addictive. I just have a fear that if I went to see the film I might find myself drifting away…

Son de Mar is released as a mid-price album on 4AD and Piano Magic are currently back in the studio working on a full album.

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Piano Magic – Son de Mar