“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)