Deep Magic

The Preservation label presents Lucid Thought, the second full-length album from California’s Deep Magic, recently reviewed here by Dean Rocker... Deep Magic is the solo project of Alex Gray, who currently plays in tropical-psych jam team Sun Araw and has also contributed to works by Pocahaunted and Black Eagle Child. Since releasing his debut album Solar Meditations for cult label Not Not Fun, Alex has since gone on to record a number of longform pieces, mainly on small cassette releases including for his own Deep Tapes label, in his exploration of mind state and sound.

The panoramic, lyrical atmospheres on Lucid Thought are way more widescreen than ambience played out with cosmic inflections. Evocative and sunbleached instrumentation of fingerpicked guitar, synth, percussion, various keyboards and vocal tones lift Lucid Thought into a euphoric state glowing with microtonal melodies, continually shifting states with shimmering waves of psychedelia. This is bliss in delerium, ecstatically executed with true focus and clarity of purpose.

Also presented with a strong emphasis on the uplift, and an engaging and wistful positivity. Those wishing to shelter from the emotionally oppressive weight of dark drone and ambient could consider sheltering here in the warmth for a while.

As part of Fluid’s Tape Loop Series, Alex discussed his plans for Deep Tapes, the therapeutic nature of “Lucid Thought” and the magnetically coated plastic running between the spools, faintly hissing…

How did the release on Preservation come about?

I think it all goes back to Paul Gough (Pimmon), who played a song of mine on his radio show ‘Quiet Space’, on ABC Radio National in Australia, and Andrew Khedoori is a friend of his. Andrew contacted me in ’10 when I was living in Oakland, and we talked about working on a project together. Sent me some preservation releases to check out, and I was blown away. Loved the whole presentation. Andrew was working with Michael Jantz on a CD for his project, Black Eagle Child. Mike had worked with some other good friends of mine at roll over rover, so we had ‘crossed paths’ a few times in our musical journeys… we all agreed that I should add some hypnotic percussive elements on the “Lobelia” CD. We worked together on that project, meanwhile me and Andrew have chatted via internet quite a bit, so I’ve been sending him Deep Magic jams & other things I’m working on, and we’d been planning a Deep Magic CD since 2010….

I understand most of your previous releases were tapes? What is your attraction to that format?

I’m open to all formats, but I like to match the music with its proper format. I’ve just felt in the past that the extended bliss of Deep Magic was best on tape.

What can you tell us about Deep Tapes?

Deep Tapes is my imprint to release my & my friends’ music & art. I started releasing hand-made cassettes in early ’08 with my friends Alexa and Rob, for our group Dreamcolour.

As I met more folks doing amazing music/art: Rob Magill, Maura Sullivan (Moonwatcher), Derek Rogers, Alejandro Archuleta (Psychic Handbook), Marlene Parra (Hoy.Joy), etc, I felt the need to release theirs and others’ creations.

I also love doing different projects that explore different concepts (Deep Magic, Olympus Mons, Earthsurfers, Heat Wave), so it feels good to have an outlet for those vibes. It’s handmade tapes, CDs, vinyls, art books, story-telling…

Lee Noble/Hobo Cubes/Derek Rogers/Rambutan split 2xcs, Kellen Shipley “Fluid Motion” cs, Dementia and Hope Trails ‘I am still shaking because of you’ cs, Heat Wave ‘Stasis’ cs + many more releases are planned next…

What was involved in the recording of “Lucid Thought”?

In a sense, what was involved was a cool-down period from an emotional time, so there’s definitely some therapy happening.

Field recording manipulation and bliss explorations, simply put.

How long did the recording take to complete?

About 3 days to record it, and about 2 days or so for my friend Sean Mccann to master it.

Do you have to master differently for tapes? Is there anything that changes the sound in aiming for that format rather than another?

I think there’s a certain adventurous quality to tapes, especially in this day and age, and extended warm, blissful sounds fit really well into that sphere. The sonic uncertainty of the format can be more inspiring to go a little more ‘out’ (or ‘in’ for that matter) with the sound, try new experimental things and see how tape reacts to it… perfection doesn’t seem to be an issue, its all about character… personality…

Do you hand-duplicate the tapes yourself, or do production facilities do it?

I’ve done both in the past. I’ve moved more towards the professional production end of things these days because of time and money constraints, but I still plan on doing shorter runs that are hand dubbed/hand decorated.

Where would you like to see Deep Tapes go?

Well, I’d really like to see Deep Tapes launch the artistic careers of my good friends around the world, and gain a reputation for showcasing unique, inspiring music/art and packaging. Vinyl LPs & books/publications are going to be the next big developments, but it’s still a little ways off…

Has there been a reaction to a release on the label that really surprised you?

I’ve been blown away by the amount of support and love the label has gotten through its progression. Everyone has been so patient and understanding, and really has made every release better and better.

The only thing I’ll add is that I want to say, thank you to all my amazing friends and to my family. They help me out so much and make it possible for me to be able to keep doing what makes me happy.

I do feel that there’s some real validity to the artifacts we’re all producing together, so there’s some real, positive energy surrounding the whole endeavor.

Lucid Thought is the third work in a new limited edition CD series from Preservation called Circa. Only 300 copies of each release in the series will be available and will feature a design by Mark Gowing. Each design for 2011 will be realised using a specially created abstract alphabet of shapes, determined by artist, title and catalogue number for something both fixed and random.

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