Young Magic w/SoftSpot, Co La
Friday, April 6
Better than: ’60s nostalgia.
Over the past three years, artists such as Caribou, Phantogram, and Tame Impala have merged their already-existing musical sensibilities with psychedlia, creating music that attempts to bring its audience into a transcendent place. The trio Young Magic, which come together from different corners of the world and now resides in Brooklyn, operates with a similar M.O., exploring both the past and the future with its heady, potent mix of music and visuals.
Friday night at Cameo Gallery, the band shook the audience, delivering an enormous wall of sound anchored by textures both organic and electronic. Singer/songwriter Isaac Emmanuel sequenced beats and tracks in addition to his prophetic lead vocal performance. Opposite Isaac on stage right, Michael Italia manned a station of live percussion including floor toms, high-pitched roto-toms, and electronic drum pads. Melati Malay radiated with the Zen composure of Yoko Ono, bearing an echo-laden guitar and allowing the mic to capture her soaring, expressive chants. Each member operates their own station of instruments and technology and contributes their voice to the chorus. There is no clear leader of the band, giving what’s happening on stage more of a musical-commune feel than one gets while watching most contemporary bands.
Young Magic elongated their songs from their February 2012 LP Melt into five-minute journeys, each one becoming a miniature life cycle in and of itself. The band’s deep, soulful grooves are so downtempo that they can be perceived as being twice as fast. On one hand, the quick rhythmic subdivision is exhilarating, while the overarching slow pulse has a soothing power. One of Young Magic’s most memorable songs, “Slip Time,” propels forward at only 65 beats per minute, but all the throbbing percussion between the downbeats provides a danceable groove. The band members swayed ceremoniously with every beat, inviting the audience to lose themselves in the waves of sound and gaze into the earthy projections that danced across Italia.
The only drawback to the performance was its lack of rhythmic variety. After eight songs of similarly brooding drum patterns, it was easy to lose focus and detach from the performance—although creating a monolithic set that, no matter how unvaried, has the power to induce a trance might be Young Magic’s exact intention.
Critical bias: Young Magic already had me enthralled since their March 4 show at Bowery Ballroom.
Overheard: “So tribal!”
Random Notebook dump: Young Magic’s new, hook-laden song was the most immediately accessible in their set.