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Magik Markers - Balf Quarry

  by Andrew Carver

published: 26 / 5 / 2009

Magik Markers - Balf Quarry
Label: Drag City
Format: CD


Hard-hitting second album from highly regarded American freak rock duo Magik Markers

‘Balf Quarry’, the new album from Magik Markers and US label Drag City, makes a good case for the band being heirs to the freak rock throne vacated by the dissolution of labelmates Royal Trux. Elisa Ambrosio’s don’t-give-a-damn vocals and fuzzed up, stumbling guitar work on opening track ‘Risperdal’, its follow-up ‘Don’t Talk In Your Sleep’ and the noisy clatter of ‘Ricercar of Dr. Clara Haber’ would fit just fine alongside the tracks from Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema on ‘Cats and Dogs’ or other middle-period work from Royal Trux. The band takes a slightly different tack on other songs: On ‘Jerks’ Ambrogio’s vocals turn to an angry fury and the guitar jabs insistently over drummer Peter Nolan’s rapid fills. The band then drops things down a notch for ‘Psychosomatic’, with pinprick guitar playing a riff uncomfortably close to ‘Chopsticks’ and a muted vocal performance from Ambrogio. Noted psychedelic guitarist Ben Chasney shows up to add the warm warble of nylon strings to ‘7/23’, while ‘The Lighter Side of ... Hippies’ sounds like it was inspired by 80s hardcore. The three-part ‘OhioR./Live/Hoosier’ meanwhile sounds like West Coast groover circa 1969. The outstanding part of ‘Balf Quarry’ is Ambrogio’s hard-hitting lyrics on songs such as the opening duo, which directly address myriad personal betrayals in a way that the Trux’s disguised character portraits and oblique threats never did. These statements work best on the minimalist piano-focused song ‘State Numbers’ and the melancholy organ-and-violin number ‘Shells’; on both the keyboards give the emotion plenty of space. While ‘Balf Quarry’ isn’t quite as intriguing as its predecessor ‘Boss’, fans of the circle of New York rock that includes Sonic Youth and Pussy Galore and its offshoots should find something to enjoy.

Track Listing:-
1 Risperdal
2 Don't Talk In Your Sleep
3 Jerks
4 Psychosomatic
5 7/23
6 State Numbers
7 The Ricercar Of Dr. Clara Haber
8 The Lighter Side Of…Hippies
9 Ohio R./Live/Hoosier
10 Shells

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