12 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

White Magic are practitioners of a languidly cerebral brand of psychedelic-folk that hearkens back to the highly literary and stylistically eclectic work of 60’s underground folk icons like Michael Hurley and Tom Rapp. While White Magic have had the misfortune of being saddled with the ever-dubious “freak folk” tag, their deliberately ponderous yet beautiful arrangements, studious lyricism, and intricately elliptical keyboard lines place them in a musical universe apart. At the center of this universe is pianist Mira Bilotte’s intoxicating alto, playfully mangling the English language, deftly manipulating the sound and sense of words with her elastic phrasing. The skeletal “What I See” is their answer to the acoustic explorations of guitarists like Jack Rose and John Fahey, while the gloomily atmospheric “Sea Chanty” with its dry sound and Ethiopian melody recalls the best work of Warren Ellis’ once formidable ensemble, the Dirty Three. Yet for all of their ambitious musical allusions White Magic never become mired in willful esotericism and Dat Rosa Mel Apibus stands as a sterling full-length debut from a truly talented ensemble.

EDITORS’ NOTES

White Magic are practitioners of a languidly cerebral brand of psychedelic-folk that hearkens back to the highly literary and stylistically eclectic work of 60’s underground folk icons like Michael Hurley and Tom Rapp. While White Magic have had the misfortune of being saddled with the ever-dubious “freak folk” tag, their deliberately ponderous yet beautiful arrangements, studious lyricism, and intricately elliptical keyboard lines place them in a musical universe apart. At the center of this universe is pianist Mira Bilotte’s intoxicating alto, playfully mangling the English language, deftly manipulating the sound and sense of words with her elastic phrasing. The skeletal “What I See” is their answer to the acoustic explorations of guitarists like Jack Rose and John Fahey, while the gloomily atmospheric “Sea Chanty” with its dry sound and Ethiopian melody recalls the best work of Warren Ellis’ once formidable ensemble, the Dirty Three. Yet for all of their ambitious musical allusions White Magic never become mired in willful esotericism and Dat Rosa Mel Apibus stands as a sterling full-length debut from a truly talented ensemble.

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About White Magic

Brooklyn's dark indie folk duo White Magic features singer/guitarist/pianist Mira Billotte and guitarist Doug Shaw. Prior to White Magic, Billotte played in Quix*o*tic with her sister Christina (also of Slant 6); the earliest version of the band also included drummer/bassist Miggy Littleton, also of Ida, and guitarist/drummer Andy Macleod from California Speedway. The band played in New York for a couple of years and appeared on the United Bamboo collection before Drag City signed them in 2003. That spring, White Magic played the All Tomorrow's Parties festival and issued their debut EP, Through the Sun Door. In 2005, Billotte played a few shows as White Magic, accompanied only by guitarist Shaw, and this became the band's permanent lineup. The group also appeared on a CD sampler sponsored by Tylenol that year. Billotte and Shaw began recording White Magic's debut album in 2005 as well, collaborating with Gang Gang Dance's Tim DeWitt -- who played with the band occasionally in its earliest days -- as well as other musicians for a more eclectic, layered sound than before. The results, Dat Rosa Mel Apibus, arrived in fall 2006, followed by the Dark Stars EP, which featured DeWitt as well as Dirty Three drummer Jim White, in 2007. That year, White Magic also contributed a version of "As I Went Out One Morning" to the soundtrack to the Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There, and a live album, New Egypt, recorded for Southern Records' Latitudes series. ~ Heather Phares

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