2020! Now it can be told: the charade of a world without new MAGIK MARKERS records (six-plus years!) has finally ended. In these times of contagion fables and hacky blockbuster N95 disaster imagery IRL, MARKERS emerge again like three Lazarus from their three individual firmaments, just in the nick of the end of time. Never doctrinaire, on 2020, MARKERS capture a humid kind of chlorinated heat, playing like children of divorce at the condominium pool: strangers feeling out games to play, contests to have underwater, blowing by minutes without noticing at all. There is no more contemporary, they say, only emergency. So, here we are with results, the murky and public airing of songs, improvised and planned. Like damp concrete made up of the collected wet footprints of every single night since last we heard these MAGIK MARKERS. The results are amazing, sometimes, dare it be said: magical.
“Surf’s Up” opens 2020 and is the redshift of this record, the reason we know light bends is because time changes it. We’ve flipped the event horizon; MARKERS are now freaked out in space on a spaced out bomb. It’s got a found-it-on-a-tape-in-the-attic vibe, echoes of CARPENTER’s Dark Star, CALE’s “Buffalo Ballet” and CASSINI’s namesake satellite taking cold old pictures alone in the airspace of Saturn’s sexiest moon. Here the MARKERS have found a reason -- a soft ballad that breaks into a piano/guitar improvisation that is somehow, in spite of itself, a revel.
Beneath the shifting, roiling surface of 2020, there is even more serious business going on. What MAGIK MARKERS do best is listening, and as SHAW, PETE and ELISA worked with the tunes, they heard something taking shape. Less a style than a spirit -- a spirit that had to do with a delight in friendship and invention. Because man, in this economy? Friends, am I right? Making music. It’s all we’ve got.
What matters now is JOHN SHAW’s monolithic bass; PETE NOLAN’s omnipotent drums and the magnificent immediacy of ELISA AMBROGIO’s lyrics and guitar.
These songs are too contemporary -- too emergency -- to be subject to notices of timeliness, but “Hymn for 2020” feels SO timely, the clean comfort and hot/coldness of this 2016 composition predicting the aseptic now. Maybe we’re biased, but we wish it went on longer. We could listen to it forever.
Like when WINSTON and JULIA fuck in 1984, this 2020, recorded and slowly mixed in the first humming tinnitus years after TRUMP was elected, feels like an animal response to the intellectual luxury of despair. It explodes like a dream. We can all be forced into wage slavery, the dreary fears of our own mortality and the tender traps of love, compassion and family; this record, in eternal Markers fashion, stands as proof that work born out of the unconscious can transcend the individual concerns of meatsackery, and commute purity and relief in the untethered ether that we all contain.
It’s been argued that mushrooms are the aliens among us; the space invaders we wait for pant quietly beneath our feet and in our dinners. These MARKERS, MAGIK by nature, have built 2020 in this same unassuming way, slowly, their imagination persisting, fighting like fungii through the cracks in the sidewalk of late capitalism. That work, from all of us, can thrive and survive until there are more mushrooms than sidewalks. It only takes a few years. “There will be no other end of the world,” poet CZESLAW MILOSZ said; and here we are at 2020.
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