“It pays to be / on the edge of existence / just riding the surface, my love”
Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto have created something very special in their debut album as Majical Cloudz—“Impersonator.” As an album, it’s a statement which is worth puzzling over, as so many already have. I’ve seen the album described as “arid” but also “lush,” “spooky” but also as “light,” or “beautiful.” People seem torn over the title—are these guys for real? Is it all a shtick? All seem to conclude that this music is powerful, and richly so. Like the greatest poets, Devon and Matt have succeeded in simultaneously mystifying and illuminating.
Any mystery the album exudes or confusion the title creates is demolished by seeing the duo live. It is in this setting that the listener can fully understand these pieces—they are meant as direct emotional transmissions, facilitated by the band and their music. The directness is key—Devon makes a point of eye contact with as many audience members as possible. Matt grins and punches a sampler which emits a bone-shuddering wave of bass. The effect is literally palpable.
It has been amazing watching this album go from the skeletal loops that Devon showed up at my house with early last year to a real LP being released on a respected label. I met Devon nearly two years ago at a Yalls show, and we quickly became friends. I met Matt soon after, in Montreal. I count this past year or so as being one of the most artistically meaningful of my life, in part because of these two. I will never forget the first time I heard Devon sing—in my room in Oakland at 2AM or so, as we recorded an early demo for “This is Magic.” I won’t forget the endless discussions we’ve had on art, music, poetry, and performance, or the weirdo beats and drones we would make in the middle of the night. Or the first show we played with Devon at my house, which I only learned afterwards was his first live performance of the Majical Cloudz material. Or, playing a show in Montreal at Duffy’s house (my first time ever visiting Canada) with Devon and Matt, everyone knowing all the words, Devon ripping off most of his clothes and curling up on the floor, singing his heart out.
Congratulations to my dear friends on the release of this truly beautiful and important record. Go listen to it if you haven’t yet. Buy it if you have some extra cash. Make sure you see them live.
Some Ember - Flowers Open (Official Video)
This is the video for “Childhood’s End”, directed by Emily Kai Bock and starring my father, Kenneth Welsh.
Emily and I have known each other for a long time, going back to the days of Lab.Synthese, which was the venue she lived in and ran with Sebastian Cowan, Alex Cowan and others. I have been a fan of her video work for a long time so I was thrilled that she was interested in collaborating with myself and Matt.
I have been present at two of her other video shoots (for Grimes’ “Oblivion” and Solar Year’s “Brotherhood”) so it was an unfortunate but ironic twist of fate that we were on tour during the filming of this video. As a result, some of the details of its production are a mystery to me, but it makes it all the more fascinating for me to watch. My sincere gratitude goes out to Emily, Bobby Shore and everyone else involved in the production. It’s a truly cinematic video and we are honoured to have our song as the soundtrack.
I’m also very grateful to have a video that features my father Kenneth Welsh, who is a very accomplished actor and who has spent decades acting for the stage, film & television. His career has been a long one but you may know him best from the television show Twin Peaks. His performance in the video is very moving and I’m mostly just really happy to be able to collaborate with him in some way (this is not the first time he has collaborated with Majical Cloudz, as he played the flute and trumpet on two early recordings back in 2010).
Matt and I are both really happy and excited about the positive reaction to “Childhood’s End”. It’s always a strange experience to make a deeply personal song and then release it into the world and play it for lots of different people during tours. Even though it gains a whole other significance by becoming part of who we are as a band, it still remains incredibly personal on some level. So it’s great that other people can get something out of it too!
I was going to write a whole other paragraph here offering my convoluted interpretation of the video and its relation to the narrative of the song, but then I realized: I’ve already written way too much!