Purson have never disappointed me. This year they have released their second album on the Spinefarm Records label entitled, Desire’s Magic Theatre. Inspired by the Rock Operas of Sgt. Pepper and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Rosalie Cunningham and her fellow comrades show no sign of stopping.
From hearing them on the Rise Above Records sampler, Poisoned Apples along with their 2013 debut The Circle and the Blue Door, the new album is a real spine-tingling yet amazing follow-up to show that the band have the power and the glory to keep the train going.
The opening title track begins with train horns and audience applauding before the band kick into gear with an essence of Roxy Music meets Alice Cooper with a shuffling groove a-la ‘70s Glam Rock style! It then all of a sudden delves into the psych folk in 3/4 time signature of a dooming and dreamy waltz and then Rosalie sings her heart out in the lines “Down in a spiral/Where start meets the end/Tongue tied/I just comprehend/Language that mainlines to the brain/BABBLE ON BABYLON!”
I nearly cried because I was thinking to myself, “This is the music I’ve been expecting to hear something really good!” And I was right! I love the twist between the essence of Sonja Kristina meets Peter Hammill in her vocal styles in the way she sings in that section. The instrumental part has an eruptive keg from ‘60s organ, powerful guitar lines, and the improving jazz section finale of the cross between the Moody Blues and Jethro Tull, gives it a surreal end before seguing into Electric Landlady.
It is a nod to Jimi Hendrix and of course the Canterbury group, Caravan which mention the line “In the Land of Grey and the Groan.” it erupts with blaring guitar rhythm and riffs with spooky keyboards, ghost-like vocals, dreamy midsections, and crosses between the Beatles, Sabbath, and the Syd Barrett-era of Pink Floyd thrown into the mix with a hypnotic wah-wah guitar solo that Rosalie does.
Dead Dodo Down deals with the corruption and the deal with the devil and not trusting a word they say on TV and not knowing the truth and not buying a single word they say. The music again features the nightmarish and dystopian atmosphere on what is to come while The Sky Parade channels the mind of the Abbey Road-era, Fairport Convention, Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, and the Atom Heart Mother Sessions thrown in.
I love the dooming militant acoustic intro and featuring ascending melodies with an intense rhythm section that has a swirling punch into heaven before ending with an abrupt silence. The Mellotron comes in with a dreamy pop and the essence of Barrett is in there as Rosalie goes inside the mind of the Madcap genius and pulls the brainstorming ideas with The Window Cleaner.
The stomping rhythms and horn sections for The Way It Is, captures the time of the golden-era of the 1970s and the late ‘60s with more adventurous tones as they back into the voyages of Space as to meet Mr. Howard with a captivating section filled with drama, excitement, and on the edge of your seat on what this character is going through with the crimes he committed. It is like something straight out of Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play and The Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow as the character witness what he has done and the music nails it down to a punch on what the penalty will be for him.
I Know is back into the styles of the early Beatles with the 3/4 waltz acoustic ballad in the styles of This Boy and you can feel the chills and beauty to take a break from the hard rock sounds and into soaring clouds to a dance. Then, we come to the 7-minute epic, The Bitter Suite.
This is where you turn this up to maximum volume on your headset. And you can close your eyes and picture an underground theater with three acts and seeing where these characters singing through the pieces. It’s almost as if both Terry Gilliam and Alejandro Jodorowsky had worked together to create this story with the band telling the music in where they would go forwards to and closes the curtain for the Theatre.
The bonus tracks feature two acoustic versions of I Know and a gothic acid-folk version of The Sky Parade followed by Unsure Overture. This time George Hudson takes over on the vocals and he and Rosalie share the vocals between each other and this gives George a chance to shine. I always imagine Rosalie will one day give the band members a chance to write their own material one day. Spooky organ intro, stomping drum section by Raphael Mura, and the haunting cello section by Anna Scott, it is a driven down the highway sing-along song.
This is my fifth time listening to Desire’s Magic Theatre. It is another return of the band’s music and they know they have accomplished another job well done. And enjoy the adventure as the late great Bette Davis from the film All About Eve says, “Fasten your seat belts, It’s going to be a bumpy night!”