Young Magic Melt
2. Slip Time
3. You With Air
5. Jam Karet
6. Night In The Ocean
7. Watch For Our Lights
8. The Dancer
11. Drawing Down The Moon
Although now firmly settled in New York City, Young Magic’s three members came together through equal helpings of openness and fortuity. In 2010, singer and producer Isaac Emmanuel had left his home continent of Australia to travel across Europe, over to New York, and down through Mexico, all the while creating and recording music with whatever instruments he found along the way. While in Mexico, Emmanuel kept a tight correspondence with producer and musician Michael Italia, who for months had been similarly traveling across Europe and South America with portable recording gear in tow. They decided to meet up in New York, where their good friend from a few years prior, Indonesian-born vocalist Melati Malay, had been living and making her own recordings. In early 2011 the three friends, who had initially bonded over their broad musical palettes, began recording together and contributing songs to the record, culling influences and finding their own footing among them.
The immediately fruitful collaboration brought forth singles “Sparkly”, “You With Air” and “Night In The Ocean,” all of which were fitting indicators of the band’s chameleonic sound, heavily informed by West African rhythms, Brainfeeder hip-hop, UK bass, and 60s psychedelic soul. Young Magic’s full-length debut, Melt, comprises both of these tracks—as well as their B-sides—and expands on their varied aesthetic, at once electronically sequenced and completely organic. Containing recordings from 10 different countries, the album flaunts new facets at each turn, letting—as on “Watch For Our Lights”—rough samples from distant lands coalesce with drum machines and distorted synths. “Night In The Ocean” and “Jam Karet” put soaring synth pads around the higher frequencies while deep kicks keep the songs grounded, allowing Isaac and Melati’s vocals to float in synchronicity between. And with its shifting rhythm, open structure, and layers of echoed vocals, closer and highlight, “Drawing Down The Moon,” hints at crystalline take on UK garage: a last dance from a collection of short stories from around the world. With a sonic mélange of vibes on a debut that remains cohesive and distinctly their own, it will be exciting to see where the trio’s tastes will guide them next.
Young Magic is Jakarta born Indonesian-American vocalist Melati Malay, and Sydney-born songwriter-producer Isaac Emmanuel. The pair met in New York City in 2010 and began collaborating above a speakeasy in Brooklyn. Alongside original member Michael Italia, the trio signed to Carpark Records (Toro Y Moi, Beach House, Dan Deacon) on the strength of one single (Sparkly/You With Air) and a wave of positive press. Touring in Europe and North America began after a series of limited edition 7″ releases in 2011. The following year brought new visibility, acclaim, and artistic achievement with the release of the group’s full-length album debut, Melt.
Melt was recorded in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, U.S.A., Spain, Germany, Iceland, Australia, and the U.K. while band members travelled independently, collecting field recordings and documenting their experiences. The New York Times described the album as “lush and immersive…it summons an elusive mood of longing among the sonic wonderment.” About Melt, the BBC wrote, “like a beat poet racked by drink addiction; music that waxes and wanes, and explodes; and a great spirit which, rather than confine itself to basements and bedsits, aims its sights on the heavens. An exquisite new breed to behold.”
The band became quickly known for their percussive, cinematic style, as well as collaborations across film, music and visual arts with artists as such as Purity Ring, Leif Podhajsky, and Angus Borsos. Pared down to a duo with varying live collaborators, Young Magic toured the world in 2013 and 2014, including performances at Lowlands Festival, Iceland Airwaves, Berghain, Austin Psych Fest, and the Brooklyn Museum.
The duo’s ambitious second album, Breathing Statues, was released in 2014. Recorded in Morocco, Paris, Prague, Australia, and Iceland, the album gracefully dives headfirst into a more delicate, personal world of sound. AllMusic described Breathing Statues as “far bigger and more polished than their debut…evokes ’60s exotica and ’90s trip-hop with a hypnotic groove that feels like it could go on forever.” Q Magazine wrote: “Alternately dreamlike and arresting, they’ve discovered a formula that realizes the sonic sorcery always suggested by their name.”
In 2015, Young Magic released Remixes Vol. 1—a pay-as-you-feel charity album, with all proceeds going to the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation, an organization facilitating health and arts projects in Australian Aboriginal communities. Contributors included Roland Tings, Teebs, The Acid, Matthew David, and Basquiat’s musical partner, Nicholas Taylor of Gray.
The same year, Malay returned to her birthplace of Java, Indonesia, to begin work on a new collection of music. She rented a small shack by the water and spent her time gathering field recordings and collecting stories from her families’ history. The result is Young Magic’s most breathtaking album to date, Still Life, released on May 13, 2016.