Electronic dreaming with Magic Sword’s ‘Endless’

Magic Sword is a multi-media entity. There’s a comic book. There’s an accompanying soundtrack for each comic book. There’s a variety of tie-in merch (hoodies, tote bags, socks). Finally, there are the creators, three otherworldly beings who refer to themselves as “The Keeper of the Magic Sword” (keyboards), “The Seer of All Truths (guitar), and “The Weaver of All Hearts and Souls” (drums), who are based in the rather more prosaic confines of Boise, Idaho.

The latest release in their arsenal is Endless, the comic book, and the soundtrack (available on CD, vinyl — and cassette!). Their promo material cites the influence of the film music by John Carpenter and Vangelis, but I felt the music was also reminiscent of that period in the 1970s when releases featuring Moog synthesizers and other electronic gizmos were all the rage. The smooth pop glide of numbers like “Depths of Power” and “Prophecy” would fit nicely in a playlist of numbers from Oxygene, Switched on Bach, and Everything You Wanted to Hear on the Moog But Were Afraid to Ask For. Music to bliss out to.

The moody “Invincible” starts out in haunting Twin Peaks territory, then boosts the beats-per-minute to something more danceable; there’s Laura Palmer, dancing at the after-hours club again. Without any lyrics to latch onto, your imagination is left to run riot, and it’s inevitable you’ll match up the music with a film unspooling in your own mind. Most of the material is in a melancholy vein; the spooky “Aftermath”; the foreshadowing of doom in “Shores of Oblivion”; “Empress,” which you can imagine playing in the background the leading character heads off on their way to the climactic confrontation.

“Corruption” ushers in its mystery with a rush of white noise, and the title track provides an appropriately anthemic send off. I found “Ritual” rather repetitive; granted, that is a feature of electronic music, but generally there’s more interesting stuff layered on top. “Hope” I also found a bit languid (though less so when I closed my eyes and imagined a typically gray Washington-state beach, with the surf gently rolling in). But overall, Endless is an enjoyable ride through a dreamy landscape, with enough twists and turns so you don’t drift too far out into inner space. 

I suspect simply listening isn’t the best way to experience this music. Live appearances have the band performing in robes and masks, generating something far more theatrical and dynamic. But with the tour to promote this album currently on hold, you’re stuck with your own mental movies that these sounds conjure up, as we await their live return. Check out the band’s website for more fun.

(Check out Endless below via Bandcamp)

Gillian G. Gaar

Gillian G. Gaar covers the arts, entertainment, and travel. She was a senior editor at the legendary Northwest music publication The Rocket, and has also written locally for The Seattle Times, The Stranger, and Seattle Weekly, as well as national/international outlets such as Rolling Stone, Mojo, Q, and Goldmine, among others. She has written numerous books, including She’s A Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll, Entertain Us: The Rise of Nirvana, Return of the King: Elvis Presley’s Great Comeback, and World Domination: The Sub Pop Records Story. Follow @GillianGaar on Twitter.

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