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Low Birth Weight

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Album Review

Glen Johnson is probably the most important figure to emerge from the British indie music scene since My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields. His gift for haunting lyricism, arrangement, and production is unparalleled in any area of music today. With Low Birth Weight, Johnson's Piano Magic, an ever-changing collective of musicians performing bits and pieces of his decadent vision, has crafted a stunning work of orchestral rock with the littlest (and cheapest) of gear. The beauty of the record lies specifically in its simple songcraft and production. Like Shields, Johnson spends inordinate amounts of time in the studio eliminating the smallest flaws that might compromise his otherworldly creations. Johnson melds the heavenly vocals of collaborators Caroline Potter, Simon Rivers, and Raechel Leigh with sparse, echoed guitar, subtle drum machine clicks, electronic scribbles, and chirpy children's toys. Low Birth Weight seems oddly English in that it romanticizes working class life so as to make it beautifully painful; listeners may get the feeling that the record's title is deeply rooted in one of Johnson's intensely painful experiences. Johnson illustrates a great deal of understanding and an ability to create a touching picture from the most undesirable occurrences. Also interesting is the fact that Johnson never mouths a word on the record; his involvement is strictly instrumental and that, in itself, reveals a certain detachment from the music. He maintains a great emotional distance while still weaving beautiful and depressing tales, as the musicians become Johnson's playthings, bringing his damaged emotions to life.


Formed: 1996

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Due to a wide range of influences, restless/relentless creative energies, and a supporting cast that's too numerous to list in full, random peeks into the catalog of the Glen Johnson-helmed Piano Magic -- from super limited-edition singles on Spanish independents to full-length soundtracks -- rarely result in the same thing twice. Started in the mid-'90s by Johnson, Dominic Chennell, and Dick Rance with the intention to base their recordings around a small nucleus and whomever would like to contribute...
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Low Birth Weight, Piano Magic
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