No scene is more prone to the difficulties of quick change and reform than the world of electronic music, making it difficult for artists to maintain relevancy over long periods of time while also remaining consistent. Electronic movements and subgenres rise and fall at rapid rates and drag with them the artists anchored to the sinking cement blocks of archaic sounds. For the most part, only the biggest and best producers and DJs whose names are synonymous with electronic music itself have been able to overcome this challenge. Artists like Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Disclosure, and others who represent the ultimate behemoths of the genre have the massive fan bases required to propel them past the need to worry about electronica’s ever-changing direction, and continue with their own craft.
But what about the little guy? What about the one-hit-wonders or those whose names are synonymous with electronic sub-genres of brutally short life spans? What about TNGHT and the absurdity of the Traptronica movement? Of course Hudson Mohawke and Lunice have had successful careers since, but the most popular songs from both artists are still tied to the 2012 release of the duo’s self-titled EP. What about Darius and Crayon who found success in the remix partnership of the bubbly Club-Synth that defined electronic music between 2013 and 2015? Both artists still cling to projects released a half decade ago and have seen very limited success in the years since.
I’m not saying this as a slight to any of these artists. Quite to the contrary, I’m bringing this to attention because all too often, talented and innovative electronic producers explode onto the scene and are left all but forgotten when the scene changes – typecast as the proponents of a style no longer desired, even when they are in fact able to successfully transcend subgenres and keep pace with the changes of electronic music. A sad side effect of a young genre fueled by rapid change and wild experimentation. New music from an old artist isn’t good enough. New artists altogether receive far more spotlight.
But there are always exceptions. Thanks to slow but steady growth, a loyal cult following, and one of the most unique sounds and personas in all of electronic music – a genre dictated by circusry and strangeness – the truly one-of-a-kind producer and percussionist, Slow Magic has been able to defy the bubble-bursting challenges so often encountering other young electronic artists.
If this is the first time that you’re hearing Slow Magic’s name, don’t think that you’re out of the loop. Most people are unfamiliar with him even if they have heard his music, and that fact simply adds to his mystery and makes his art that much more enticing. When Slow Magic first appeared on the scene in 2012, his bizarre style was something completely unheard. To this day, five years later and on the heels of his third album release, that still remains the case. Ghostly sampling, bouncy keystrokes, explosions of West Coast hip-hop synthesizers, and signature single snare percussion worthy of a university drum line melts together to provide Slow Magic’s music a perfectly unique, bold, and innovative quality.
It’s not just unending inventiveness keeping Slow Magic’s sound strictly within his own grasp. It’s also the fact that even if other artists wanted to replicate his sound, and it’s likely that there are many who do, they don’t have what it takes. Slow Magic has become one of the great artists to merge analogue elements with his otherwise digital production in an almost homogenously computer program based genre of music. His instrumental ability both in the studio and at live events is one of the most impressive things about him and one of the primary traits that separates him from the rest of the electronic pack. When one thinks of electronic artists who have implemented a similar strategy into their music, Griz and Big Gigantic both standout with their merging of electronic production and saxophone, Gramatik and Emancipator blend guitar into their live performances, and both brothers from Disclosure impress by playing just about every instrument under the sun while also top tier in electronic production. Slow Magic, though possessing a similar skill set, differentiates himself from the rest by his unique ability to drum over his production, providing his releases with an especially organic feel, and making his live performances some of the most unique, energetic and interactive in all of music.
Though generally performing in small ballroom venues for a collection of his cult followers, Slow Magic has also exploded onto the festival circuit. And with good reason too. Not only do his performances exhibit his high-energy drum and production combination, they’re also a quirky and strange display of Slow Magic’s bizarre persona. You see, Slow Magic wears a mask. And I know you’re thinking,
“Great, how original. Another DJ wearing a mask just to prove to you that he’s a weirdo and cater to the electronic masses.”
But with Slow Magic, it’s different. He’s not doing it to emulate electronic idols like Daft Punk or Deadmau5, and he’s not doing it because he has anything to prove. He does it, as he says, for two reasons and both provide him with more credibility and intrigue. First “is the simple reason that [he] wants people to just look at the music and nothing else… It’s something to look at on stage and [he] just wants the focus to be the music and the art….” Second is, as he explains, the man behind the mask and the persona are entirely different entities. “Slow Magic is the sound made by an unknown imaginary friend…”
This may sound a little strange or childish, but give his music a listen and suddenly, for some reason, it actually makes a lot of sense.
Whether you are a long time fan or whether you are listening for the first time while reading this article, you have probably noticed something youthful and childlike to Slow Magic’s sound. To be honest, aside from explaining the unique sound by saying that it’s reminiscent of childhood memories and dreams of running through a mysterious forest, I don’t really know what about his music deserves the credit. All I know is that in some way with the combination of his elements, stylings, and persona, Slow Magic has truly captured the childhood essence.
It’s this essence that has been a consistent theme from the beginning. Slow Magic’s 2012 album, Triangle was the first time his bubbly, energetic vibe graced the music scene, and singles Corvette Cassette and Youths found success as more mainstream hits. Though the album as a whole lacked a strong uniformity, it built the foundation for his future. In 2015, his sophomore album How To Run Away held true to his innocence but built upon his prior work with more concrete ideas of his style and an even more emotional reach. The entirety of the album is a roller coaster of dark, twisted pain and triumphant, exciting nirvana, and in my opinion, his best work to date. His long-awaited 2017 album, Float was yet another excellent addition to his canon and perhaps his most unique and emotionally jarring to date. A plethora of experimentation throughout the album makes it a little inconsistent at times, but altogether it is a fantastic project that once again salutes his ability as capture a theme as vast as childhood with his unique sound.
It’s not only his sound that captures the feelings and emotions of childhood and innocence. His music videos are also magical displays of imagination and creativity, building dream worlds in which Slow Magic is no longer imaginary, but simply a friend and fully in his element.
Slow Magic is much more than just his own uniquely talented, unendingly innovative, supremely bizarre, yet oddly approachable imaginary friend. He has become that imaginary friend to us all. Someone we can turn to in times of emotional strain or elation, remembrance and reflection, escape; And someone who in turn accepts us, embraces us, and runs away with us to a simpler, better place to the tune of energetic synths and snare drums.