I first heard of Majical Cloudz about a year and a half ago when I came across their song “Bugs Don’t Buzz” during an off period at school. I guess it had an effect on me, because I distinctly remember hitting the repeat button over and over again for the rest of that day. The stark piano loop that propels the song had me in it’s clutches, and the sparse, grim, almost terrifying vocals mesmerized me and inspired me all at once. Needless to say, I was intrigued, and started to go deeper and deeper into this dark, deep, yet unbelievably beautiful void that is Majical Cloudz. The journey was well worth the time, because now they are one of my absolute favorite bands.
Devon Welsh is the force that makes Majical Cloudz so brilliant, although synth programmer Matthew Otto helps as well. However, it’s Welsh’s voice and stage persona that separates this band from all others. It’s as if he gets into this trance-like state whenever he performs, and often times, it almost seems like he forgets to blink. It’s quite intense, but makes sense with the ideas and words he so passionately sings. The music itself is minimal, with these beautiful effects that transform simplicity into a muted, subtle complexity with the touch of a key. Their debut album Impersonator was one of the best of the past year, and each track is nothing short of a masterpiece. Title track “Impersonator” shows off Welsh’s amazing ability to be emotionally direct, and there’s immediately a sense of urgency that runs throughout the rest of the album. “This Is Magic” touches on some deeper lyrics, and the slow, haunting beats and tones help to bring on the eeriness of the whole thing. Then there’s “Childhood’s End.” This is definitely one of my favorites, and the most evocative song on the entire album as well. The repeated piano notes take on their own persona, and pushes Welsh’s vocals so that they float on their own accord. The lyrics are so dark, depressing, and desolate, but again, like all of their songs, the way they are sung so passionately and beautifully gives them a softer edge. It is here where the listener can truly hear his voice in all it’s glory, and the story he sings is enough for you to relate it to whatever is happening in your own life, though there’s a chance you haven’t been through the same things that he has. “I Do Sing For You” and “Mister” relate directly to the subject of love, and each approaches the subject differently but effectively. I do have to mention that Welsh’s voice reminds me a bit of Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode (which I love), seeing as though they both have that gruff that sits around the edges of their voices. “Turns Turns Turns” is different and plays around more with the synthesizer, and provides this sort of movement that’s a constant force. “Silver Rings” and “Illusion” much like the duo I mentioned earlier, seem to be related in some way. These particular tracks seem to build as the song plays on, adding layers and layers of instrumentals and emotion, as well as Devon Welsh’s powerful upper register. Since the release of their first album, Majical Cloudz have also released singles “Love Soul” and “Savage,” both of which are some of my favorite tracks they have ever done. “Love Soul,” again, showcases some repeating elements, with a echoing piano chord, while “Savage” is probably very close to being the best vocal performance that Devon Welsh has ever done. Impersonator, as a whole, however, was a really, really personal album, something I’m sure was a bit difficult for them to release. There’s obvious pain and sadness to the record, but there’s happiness and hopefulness too. It’s often times difficult to hear and appreciate, but it’s there, almost like a ray of light into hordes of lurking shadows. It forces you to contemplate more important things and pushes you into the line of embarrassment, but it’s something you’re grateful for later.
I really admire Devon Welsh because of how deep and sensitive he really is. He’s so personable and respectful towards others and aims to make each member of his audience feel included (just read his blog, you’ll know what I mean) and that sort of thing goes a long way in a business that seems to put musicians and artists on this unreachable pedestal. It’s incredibly inspiring, and adds to the intense beauty of their songs. It takes time to understand and relate to it, and I always seem to think a little deeper about myself and the world around me when I listen to any of their beautiful songs.