The work of Magic Video is as intricate as the extended musical genealogy to which it finds itself entangled. Led by Luke Pigott and Ashley Hartman, the duo has been experimenting with indie pop and rock gradations for years, long before they found themselves performing together in Philadelphia indie rock outfit The Chairman Dances. Under the moniker of Magic Video, however, they’ve collaborated with labelmates Spelling Reform, members of The Chairman Dances and a host of other Philadelphia musicians.
In the summer of 2016, Pigott and Hartman began to pull together some raw material which they thought could be molded and shaped into their first LP. But life is often chaotic and less concerned with our plans than we’d like to admit. During this time, Hartman was getting ready for a move to Spain with her new husband, and Pigott was considering a trek back to his home state of Mississippi to work through some intense self-examination. Even still, they managed to record some elementary tracks for the songs but quickly realized that they were going to need some help in realizing their full potential.
Pigott initially met with drummer Mark Rybaltowski in an old Lutheran chapel to record some of his contributions. He also brought in bassist Ben Rosen and multi-instrumentalists Eric Krewson and John Kelsey who worked on their parts separately and emailed them to Pigott while he continued working on adding additional instrumentation and starting the mixing process. Sarah Brodie and Lauren Biehl also added backing vocals to some of the tracks. Over the next year and a half, Hartman and Pigott began a long back-and-forth between this group of musicians as they sought to bring these sounds to life.
Recently signed to Black Rd Records (also home to The Chairman Dances), the band is currently gearing up to release their self-titled debut record, which is due out in the very near future. They’ll be releasing digital and cassette versions of the album, with a later video album release in the works – which would involve a digital version featuring videos for all the songs and a very limited run of VHS tape copies.
On their latest single, “Purple Too,” they fashion a mesmerizing mix of acoustic pop arrangements, orchestral theatricality and pastoral rhythms. The lyrics evoke the ethereal and free-flowing folk stream-of-conscious narratives common to records in the late ‘60s while the synths and bounding percussion ignite countless pop synapses running the length of your body. The sounds seem to casually shift and transform, weaving gorgeous melodic lattices that sway and pivot away from your expectations.
In the accompanying video, directed by Hartman (with an additional scene provided by Lauren Biehl), we’re given glimpses into a sprawling collection of urban and rural wildernesses, filled with animals, atmospheric disturbances and garish artificial environments. These scenes lay over one another, blending the natural world with various concrete expanses. The music effortlessly folds into these images, providing a compelling soundtrack to the unpredictable movements we disregard or simply fail to notice in the world around us.