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Magda - From The Fallen Page

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Artist: Magda

Album: From The Fallen Page

Label: m_nus

Review date: Feb. 24, 2011

Until late last year, producer Magda Chojnacka was known more for her ability to spin other people’s music. Last summer’s podcast for Resident Advisor shows just how much personality can come across bumping tracks together. The mix is playful and funny, even when pointing the spotlight on stark techno and vintage post-punk alienation. She teases maximum wiggle from that restrained material, somehow making it as limber as the 1980s electro-funk that shares the running time.

From The Fallen Page is Magda’s first long-form presentation of her own music, and has a similar edgy playfulness. Icicle chimes, clicks and scrapes form most of the sound. Tracks launch with beatless rushes of wind. This feels like it should make for frosty listening, but it’s more inviting than that. When the beats start rolling, the discord and noise behaves. The squared-off rhythms are sharper for the harsh environment they emerge from. “Get Down Goblin” is the title of the opener, and a good description of her method; find a misshapen figure in the shadows, and pull it on to the dancefloor.

“Little Bad Habits” is the best construction here. Starting with an industrial clank, the appearance of bass makes it slosh and swirl. Viola squeak and piano rumbles get thrown into the steadily sinking sound. The vortex doesn’t swallow them up, it just keeps spinning. “Your Love Attack” should be even more forbidding. It’s all failing electronics, sputtering on nearly drained batteries, but a Latin click ensures it moves along. Half the other tracks find similar contrasts that keep the bones moving. Magda lacks for melodic invention, and some of the other numbers are more typical mid-Europa techno, or at least miss the personality of her successes.

For someone who’s been honing this persona for a decade, she’s emerging at the right time: the letterforms of her given name makes for a logo of Gothically hep triangles. The low-end noise here has a surprising vocal quality, almost like grumbling threats from that aforementioned goblin. It’s menacing, but in a Grimm’s fairy tale sort of way. Her little monsters are caged by dependable beats. It is night music, a night with fireflies.

By Ben Donnelly

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