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Sweaty Magic

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Album Review

Originating as a collaboration with photographer Lizeth Santos, where she and Rafter would both complete an art project a day, the Sweaty Magic EP mixes those quick deadlines with equally lively musical influences, including Tom Zé, Prince, Zapp & Roger, and D'Angelo. Though the concept is promising, the results — like those of almost any experiment — are mixed. Too often, Rafter's interpretations of those sounds in such a short timeframe sound rushed, messy, and bordering on parody. "Salt"'s taut guitars and croaking talk box synths don't gel enough to really sound convincing, and "Sassy"'s beats and breaks are all over the place; "Magic"'s stabbing synths and bass-in-your-face arrangement works on its own, but ends up overpowering Rafter's vocals. On the other hand, when Sweaty Magic's risks pay off, the results are as good as anything on Sex Death Cassette: the contrast between "Noise"'s sleek sounds and playfully twee lyrics like "the sweetest bed's a noisy bed" makes it a highlight, along with the loopy, acoustic guitar-driven "Juicy" and "Heat," which is the EP's quietest and, ironically enough, most kinetic song, mixing bongos, brass, and upright bass into an insinuatingly catchy (and even a little sexy) track. Sweaty Magic's fearless experimentation is admirable — and though its songs are far from flawless, there are enough keepers here to make it a fun, summery fling.


Formed: San Diego, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

One of San Diego's music fixture Rafter Roberts' many projects -- which include the indie pop duo Bunky, running one of the city's most popular indie recording studios, and producing and engineering albums for Castanets, the Fiery Furnaces, Arab on Radar, and more -- Rafter's kaleidoscopic noise pop features Roberts and a revolving cast of friends. Growing up in a California commune, Roberts wasn't exposed to much pop culture or music except for what his new wave- and punk-loving older brother played...
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Sweaty Magic, Rafter
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