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Piano Magic

Piano Magic

Piano Magic is a musical collective formed in the summer of 1996 by Glen Johnson, Dominic Chennell, and Dick Rance in London, England. Their sound has been described as ambient pop, post-rock, indietronica, dark wave, "arty baroque pop" and "English radiophonic soundscapers". While the most recent releases have seen them operating with a traditional band format, they originally started their career with the intention to base their recordings around their small nucleus and whoever else would like to contribute. Glen Johnson is the only remaining band member from the original trio.Formation and early years: 1996–1998Piano Magic was formed in the summer of 1996 by Glen Johnson, Dominic Chennell, and Dick Rance in London, England, as a 'bedroom-studio' project with the intention to base their recordings around their small nucleus and whoever else would like to contribute.Originally reluctant to perform live, they gave way to label pressure when their first single proved popular on BBC Radio 1 John Peel show and was awarded Single of the Week in Melody Maker. While recruiting Paul Tornbohm to play drums at these gigs, they pointedly refused to play or sound like any of their released material.Popular Mechanics appeared on I (label)/Ché Trading in 1997, a debut album which the press variously described as "ethereal electro pop atmospheric soundscapes" or "simply delighting in... making silly noises" and which the band thought of as "Small Beat, pre-chip... radiophonics". It included vocals by Hazel Burfitt and Raechel Leigh but, with Rance having quit the band, combined two previous single releases with a set of new recordings by Johnson and Chennell.The duo then briefly recruited American music students, Alexander Perls, Jen Adam and Ezra Feinberg to complete the band, though Chennell too had departed by the time of the second album release Low Birth Weight in 1998, a record described as "dreamy, trance and organic psychedelia". It introduced the vocals of Caroline Potter who would sing on one further album.Mid-period: 1999–2004By 1999 only Johnson remained from the original trio and the departure of Chennell leaving him free to lead the band into a much more conventional format and sound. A line-up of Glen Johnson, Miguel Marin, John Cheves and Paul Tornbohm recorded the third album, Artists’ Rifles with John A Rivers (producer of Dead Can Dance and Felt) and showcased its guitar based sound, "a mixture of chiming guitars and processional rhythms", at the Benicassim and BAM music festivals. By now, Piano Magic was proving more popular abroad than in their homeland and the next few years' activity included mainly European tours.The band, now minus Cheves, signed to 4AD Records in 2000 and released the soundtrack for Spanish director, Bigas Lunas' Son de Mar movie in 2001 described as "ethereal, delayed guitar lines... accompanied by various ambient sounds".Jerome Tcherneyan then replaced Miguel Marin on drums and the second and last album with 4AD, 'Writers Without Homes' in 2002, was released with mixed press reaction; "exquisite, if a touch diffident" and "confused, unfocused, fragile." Its myriad guest artists imported talents from Cocteau Twins, The Czars, Tarwater, Life Without Buildings and Tram. It also featured the first vocal recording for thirty-three years of lost '60s/'70s folk heroine, Vashti Bunyan.With the addition of Franck Alba and Alasdair Steer, 'The Troubled Sleep Of Piano Magic' was released in 2003 on the Green Ufos label soliciting comparisons with This Mortal Coil and Durutti Column.Recent Period: 2005-2013Cedric Pin joined Piano Magic in time for the 2005 album, Disaffected with a melodic, nearly "pop" sound, featuring more guest vocal contributions from John Grant of The Czars and Angèle David-Guillou of Klima. It appeared to confirm a return to their 'exile' status gaining significant attention abroad (including, for example, full feature in the French daily Liberation) but with no coverage at all in any UK broadsheet or music magazine.The album Part Monster was released in 2007 produced by Guy Fixsen of Laika.In 2008, Piano Magic moved to Make Mine Music, an artist-run, artist-owned label collective and released a new EP, Dark Horses, the last release to feature Cedric Pin.In 2009, Piano Magic released their 10th official album Ovations with contributions by Brendan Perry and Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance.In June 2012, the album Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet was released. Among the guests is Irons' Josh Hight - voice on The Animals, Judas and A Secret Never Told.The band's last line-up was Franck Alba, Angèle David-Guillou, Glen Johnson, Alasdair Steer and Jerome Tcherneyan.According to Glen Johnson, Piano Magic disbanded in Summer 2013.Related projectsGlen Johnson released a solo album, Details Not Recorded, under his own name in March 2009 on the Make Mine Music label.Cedric Pin and Glen Johnson have recorded as 'Future Conditional'. Glen Johnson has recorded as 'Textile Ranch'. Dominic Chennell has recorded as 'Dominic de Nebo' and with the group 'Carphology Collective'.Angèle David-Guillou has recorded two albums under the name Klima ('Klima'- Peacefrog, 2007 and 'Serenades and Serinettes'- Second Language 2010). She has released one album under her own name ('Kourouma'- Village Green, 2013).


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