In the original Acid Archives, one of the general sentiments stated throughout the book is that given enough time and effort, alongside solid songcraft, anyone can create a masterpiece album. In the case of Chicago’s Magical Beautiful, I would enter their full-length Here Come the Wild Waves (I Hear a New World) as full evidence that a careful hand in recording and a fantastical worldview can indeed produce a truly cohesive album that invokes the spirit and function of the rock’n'roll canon’s masterworks while matching the aesthetic of the very best private press records.
Magical Beautiful is a psychedelic project lead by Tyson Torstensen (who also runs I Hear a New World Records), featuring instrumentalists Nick Broste, Charlie Vinz, and Alance Ward, as well as guests Colby Starck and Lindsay Powell. The group represents the talents behind some of Chicago’s most surreal, imaginative, and experimental projects outside of the fuzzy mainline of the psychedelic/acid punk underground. Here Come the Wild Waves is the result of four years in the studio, and the stamp of painstaking care is evident from the artwork through to the sounds jumping off the wax.
Magical Beautiful create their own world of ambient pop, structured in such a way to provide seamless transitions between songs, resulting in side-long suites that produce a true cohesion and development. The first side leans toward electronic, key/synth-driven passages, landing somewhere between driving, percussive, repetitive song structures and spacious dub moves. Rhythmically engaging from the start, the first side lacks nothing in the department of synthetic beats, breaks, lead lines, and arpeggios, creating a focused dreamscape that suggests music that you’ve yet to hear on this earth. Patient drop-outs and frantic rapid-fire vocal deliveries color the side with contrasting developments that produce a bizarre sense of space and progression.
Contrasting the rhythmic first side, flipping the wax unveils a sweeping, cinematic, dramatic opening that flavors the ambiance for the bulk of that side. Proceedings unfold slowly here, and are much more open than the driven passages of the first side. Here and there, dub flavorings and synth leads return, tinted by the sweeping development of the second side. Closing track “Wild Waves” is one of the keys to unlocking Magical Beautiful’s musical vision, and the slowly developing ambient passages and noise swells that lead to the track are as stunning as the final track’s reprise of the themes running through the entire album.
Look toward this album as an escape, perhaps a dreamscape, an entry of forward-looking progressive pop that features strong electronic and ambient moves. If Charlie Vinz’s cover art is any hint – a floating character sneaks over a collage of Chicago’s northwest Loop and some faceless pueblo scene, lifting one of the windy city’s trademark buildings – you should expect surprises befitting pioneers traveling through a boundless imaginary world that is constructed as they proceed.