As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Magic Lantern.
By now, any mojo left to throw at the now-stalwart psychedelic scene seems dry. Everywhere you turn, another batch of talented musicians are banding together to crank out fried rainbow rock. While many would rather turn a deaf ear in favor of remembering the good ol’ days of psychedelia, those who embrace the new plateaus and valleys of a din forged on Timothy Leary ramblings and Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests are discovering just how versatile a sound it will forever be.
Cast those eardrums no further than underground supers, Magic Lantern. Helmed by a who’s who of scene stealers and label heads, the now five-piece return with the blistering Platoon (released via LA cornerstone, Not Not Fun. While no references to Oliver Stone’s chiller is to be found, the album does pay heavy homage to the Vietnam era with its throwback attack on the senses. Platoon swirls with the ferocity of a thousand acid-drench tornadoes, violently lifting up ramshackle villages with the power of Zeus and tossing them aside with the God of Gods’ venomous fury.
It may be a waste of breath to once more lay acclaim on another psychedelic release but it’s worth it to drown out the heap of naysayers piling on the end-of-music-in-nigh bandwagon. When one only pays attention to what’s being intravenously fed by mass media, there is bound to be skepticism. Likewise, all the ink and double talk that has lent itself to perpetrating the reinvigorated psych scene only goes to turn it into a force feeding but rest assured nothing about Platoon requires forced exposure. What pours from Magic Lantern’s music is sincerity. The stoned groove of “On the Dime” is au natural, never hung up on achieving anything but easy vibes. Heavy opener “Dark Cicadas” is as comforting as childhood nostalgia. Digging through teenage 12-bar blues and groovy percussion, the track explodes with familiarity without being weighed down with the imagined glory of greatness that often mars rediscovery. It’s the same idea that imbues Platoon with a power only granted to otherworldly beings.
Fear not the cliché as it pertains to Magic Lantern. Despite all your preconceived notions — be they journalistic or your own — Platoon will provide the musical shake-up you crave. Music is all about rediscovery and it gets no better than peeling the plastic wrap from Platoon and channeling all your fondest musical memories without the cynical haze. You’ve long been burned by the industry; it’s time to trust your instincts.
Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist .He writes the Monday News Mash-Up for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.