Wonderful Beasts: Magic & Myth – album review

Wonderful Beasts: Magic & Myth

DL | Vinyl

Out 20th May 2022

Magic & Myth is the second album from Wonderful Beasts, a sound art/electronic music pairing of the anonymous Xqui and Carl Knott (boycalledcrow, Spacelab). The album follows their debut collaboration together, The Art Of Whisper (Wormhole World, 2020). Magic & Myth will be released as a vinyl and digital edition by Subexotic on 20th May 2022.

From the elegiac tones that open Dreamers to the closing bars of the strident Lucky Man, a triumphal, celebratory outlook can be heard across the thirteen tracks presented here. These are instrumental pieces filled with hope and tenderness; with love and sweetness; with yearning and joy; with memory and reflection; with pensiveness and patience.

We hear the bright and delicate folk guitar manipulations that have characterised Knott’s work as boycalledcrow and traces of the plunderphonic, out-of-place field recordings and loops that have been a consistent presence in Xqui’s prolific output. Holding these disparate elements together is a beatific, bucolic ambient structure, full of lush pads, crystalline melodies, pealing bell-like clusters and exquisite emotional warmth.

That’s not to say that Magic & Myth eschews the element of surprise that both artists are known for. We hear abrasive waves of dark, almost industrial sounds and fragments of voices emerging from the otherwise serene guitars of In Love, and skewed explorations of neo-classical motifs on the faux soundtrack cue, Theme From David’s Last Dance.

As the album progresses, we venture into stranger, more oblique territory with the restless, randomised Squidgy Face or the insistent processed vocals and evasive melodies of My Mate, The Druid; pieces that the take the naturalistic gestures to be found in abundance elsewhere and which allow them to evolve in unpredictable and often joyously noisy ways.

Powerfully moving, yet consciously understated, Magic & Myth is an album for dreamers and thinkers, for quiet contemplation and deep listening, and a significant addition to the growing catalogues of Knott and Xqui.

Order the album on translucent smoked yellow vinyl here.

More Wonderful Beasts on Bandcamp here. You can follow them on Twitter as @WonderfulBeasts


All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop and you can follow him on Twitter as @hiapop, and on Facebook here.

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Born and bred in Lancashire, currently residing in the Rossendale Valley. Everything deserves one listen, but, not necessarily a second. Only (ex-Community) DJ to ever play Nat ‘King’Cole followed by Nine Inch Nails, and, eat Fish and Chips live on air. http://www.hiapop.com


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