Though PSB’s use of electronics and surging guitar rock remain familiar, Bright Magic uses samples, and the English language, sparingly. It differs from their previous albums in other ways: less linear and narrative, instead it’s an impressionistic portrait of a city from the ground up. A Eureka moment of sorts came in November 2018 when Willgoose heard Walter Ruttman’s radical Berlin tape-artwork Wochenende (or Weekend), which is sampled on three of Bright Magic’s tracks. Created in 1928, the piece collaged speech, field recordings and music into a sonic evocation of the city. Resolving to integrate these long-gone fragments with new manipulated sound sources, he set about making his own Wochenende, a narrative drama for the ears which decodes and realises the dreams of Berlin he’d constructed in his mind. J.Willgoose, Esq moved to Berlin from April 2019 to January 2020. Combining sound archaeology and the flâneuring of the psychogeographer, one street-level pursuit of the city’s energy involved Willgoose walking the Leipzigerstrasse, site of the city’s first electric streetlight, using a wide-band electromagnetic receiver from Moscow’s Soma Laboratories.
He wrote and recorded in Kreuzberg’s famous Hansa Tonstudio recording complex. This brought closer several inescapable musical touchstones: Depeche Mode’s classic eighties triumvirate, U2’s Achtung Baby and, crucially, Bowie’s Heroes and Low. Indeed, the Warszawa-evoking “The Visitor” – whose designated colour is the particular Orange of that album’s sleeve – was initially intended to feature a sample of Bowie reflecting. As well as EERA, the album’s other guest voices include Blixa Bargeld, veteran of The Bad Seeds and Einstürzende Neubauten, who becomes the voice of Berlin’s industry on the robo-teknik “Der Rhythmus der Maschinen”. Andreya Casablanca of Berlin garageistes Gurr stands in for Marlene Dietrich in “My Blue Heaven”, an anthem of proud self-determination. A very pro-European record, Bright Magic is ultimately not just about one city, but all centres of human interaction and community which allow the free exchange and cross-pollination of ideas.
Housed in Gatefold Sleeve, 20 Page 12” x 12” Booklet.