EP REVIEW: Magik Markers – ‘Isolated From Exterior Time: 2020’

CONNECTICUT’s foremost ragged, slacker squall-rockers Magik Markers have descended from their years-long recess and deigned to bless us with the benison of a new four-track, download-only EP for Drag City, Isolated From Exterior Time: 2020, their first release of any kind in five years.

The band, Elisa Ambroglio, John Shaw and Pete Nolan, said: “The twee 2010s weren’t for the Magik Markers! Markers only appear in times of duress. They heard you needed them and they came back.”

Lead track, “Machine”, the video for which you can watch below, is an intoxicating alt.rock stew of spontaneously interjecting guitar jag, yelps and chants, like a more windblown and unhinged Animal Collective, and Elisa free-associating: “You have a hairline crack, fulfilling me”. Make no mistake, though: it’s the FM pop hit of the four. Relatively speaking, if you’ll allow. 

“Three Guitars” begins with a folky chant, three-part plainsong: a “Lyke Wake Walk” for 2020, that gives way to cymbal abstraction, freefalling psych guitars and tom rolls like distant thunder. It’s a deep odyssey akin to Mercury Rev’s “Very Sleepy Rivers”; primeval and landscapey, smudged, an essence bottled but to be quaffed with caution.

“Arms to the Sky” doesn’t let up for a sec; in fact it barrels deeper into some opiated memory of song, Elisa’s voice beginning to chop and bleed and fracture as guitars saw beneath. The closer, an alternate mix of “Jet Ski”, stays deep down. Like a Spacemen 3 deciding to let go of the metronomic rigour, it flows and fades, daring you to grasp its essence, your hand clawing at its heady smoke as it swirls in columns.

My only question herein would be: why download only? I would just adore the vinyl of this dark brew sat next my turntable. 

It’s a very welcome return from other pursuits, with bassist John Shaw having developed an interest in beekeeping, and drummer Pete Nolan having obtained a master’s in special education. 

Speaking as an inhabitant of the British Isles, and with a few noble exceptions, you wonder how we can never capture or ever produce the raggedy-ass, shredding, loose, stoned, hallucinatory glory of bands like Magik Markers and others mentioned above. It’s a very American tradition, and we’ll forever be in awe of the special tonal and musical language it brings. We should be most pleased Magik Markers are issuing communiques in sound once again. 

Drag City are on the money when they say: “If Lomax was still travelling the country looking for local singers, this EP could be a field recording – the new blues.”

You can stream and purchase the Magik Markers’ Isolated From Exterior Time: 2020 EP here.

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