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CD Feature/ Little Wings: "Magic Wand"

img  Tobias
This round of releases has seen the Ahornfelder label spread its wings and fly off into as yet uncharted territory. While “Harriet” by German duo and acoustic orchestra-of-friends Taunus entered dark and surreal spaces next to sporting featherweight summer feelings, “Magic Wand” is the first truly non-instrumental album the record company has published. And yet, the album is more of a logical progression and continuation of previous lines of development than the radical break it might seem at a first glance.

For one, Little Wings’ singer and songwriter Kyle Fields had already established a connection with Ahornfelder thanks to his album of drawings entitled “Put it in a Nutshell”. Open sketches with humorous allusions sat side by side with complex, hippie-esque worlds of words and colourfully embellished images with an Escher-like blurring of perspective, parts of which can be seen in the artwork to this CD. More importantly, however, “Magic Wand” feeds from the same romantic ideal of nature and longing for harmony the label has stood for ever since its inception.

Which means that mellow guitar licks curle up into the arms of comforting bass lines and lazy drums are caressed by the soft beaks of birds happily buzzing in the warm air. Electronics play the role of subtle support, adding additional colour to tracks like “I am With You” or “Laugh Now” with their hardly noticeable percussive echoes and steel drum shuffles – dub is a discreet factor throughout on “Magic Wand”. Folk and relaxed rock are present in a more upfront manner, even though the former clearly holds the upper hand, its pussyfooting tunes and terry-clotch-funk staring into the silver moon sky instead of searching for salvation in the adrenalin rush of riffs and distortion waves.

Admittedly, the album is a quiet statement and will not provide listeners with any revelations. But it dreamily stays clear of facng itself with the usual choice most modern Folk albums unfortunately seem to find unavoidable: Either to aim at a collection of individual songs or to go for a solidified album approach content with penetrating a specific mood and staying put. Fields writes with a love-filled heart and a brittle pen and sings with a plaintive, but never whiney voice and his coherent approach embraces both options.

After one has sat through the two opening songs, slightly formulistic with their campfire strumming but highly effective in their task of making the listener forget about his daily worries, “Magic Wand” slowly but very surely soars higher and higher, culminating in timeless lullabies like “Random Lee” and “Darkened Car”.

Without vocals, the latter could just have well fitted on any other Ahornfelder release, reitterating how close to these paths the label has already walked in the past. The fact that this album was actually already released by “K Records” in 2004 only emphasises the fact that hypes and trends have no place here. One should therefore see “Magic Wand” less as a revolutionary development for the label than as a casual diversification into adjacent territory – which will doubtlessly increase its fan base and offer new opportunities to its more experimenal homeland.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Little Wings/Kyle Fields
Homepage: Ahornfelder

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