Young Magic Still Life
The beginnings of Young Magic’s new album, Still Life, coincided with singer Melati Malay revisiting her own, in her birthplace of Indonesia. Having lost her father the previous year, she returned to the island of Java to reconnect with her family, dig up stories, and begin work on a new collection of music.
“My father had been somewhat of a mystery to me,” Melati says. “How did a boy from the Midwest end up in the jungles of Borneo during the 60s, trading his watch and a carton of cigarettes for the gravestones of the indigenous headhunters?”
The search led Melati deep into her family history. She rented a small shack by the water for a month, and with just a backpack and microphone, began recording – unraveling a past of superstition, black magic, and ties to the Javanese royal family.
“I’ve always felt torn, like some kind of hybrid existing between two worlds,” Melati says. “Born to a Catholic father and a Muslim mother, growing up bilingual, attending an international school in Jakarta where all my friends were from different countries…in a city of 30 million people where the clash between poverty and affluence is extreme.”
Still Life is a deeply personal and idiosyncratic record, somewhere close to the enchanted electronic pop realms occupied by Björk and Broadcast, yet unique to Young Magic. Found sounds and textures feature prominently across Still Life, including the Javanese gamelan, blossoming into ecstatic bursts during the climax of “Lucien.” Melati grounds the textured sonic world with arrows direct to the heart, like the arresting “How Wonderful” where the singer overflows with regret for “all those things I never said.” This is as deeply personal as the group has ever been.
“In a way, Still Life became a kind of antithesis to a world where people tell you who to pray to, what to buy into, and who your enemies should be. It’s my reaction. Still Life is my way to celebrate music from all corners…my home without borders.”
Upon returning to New York, her home of 10 years, Melati put together a group of musicians and began reimagining these new musical works inspired by her personal metamorphosis. She enlisted NYC-based cellist and composer Kelsey Lu McJunkins, Detroit producer Erin Rioux, Bolivian percussionist Daniel Alejandro Siles Mendoza, and Australian producer/songwriter Isaac Emmanuel, her longtime collaborator.
Still Life inhabits a gorgeous, kaleidoscopic world, as delicate and intricate, as it is expansive and immersive. It walks the line between organic and mechanic, where dusty field recordings weave between warm Moogs and Prophets, where jazz breaks bump next to broken drum machines. It’s meticulously crafted outsider pop, made by obsessives, for obsessives.
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.
CLEAR TO SEE
• North American publicity by Grandstand
• College and non-commercial radio promotion by Terrorbird
• North American tour planned
• Indie exclusive LPs on clear vinyl limited to 600 copies
• Vinyl includes free digital download
Deluxe LP: 677517011449
Standard LP: 677517011418
3. Sleep Now
6. Default Memory
7. How Wonderful
9. Sky Interior
10. Valhalla (Reprise)