Silver Bulletin – Magnetic Dimensions (Grave New World)

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I must confess that I often forget about Perth. I forget there are people out there, making music, living lives and enjoying the sun setting over the ocean. From the east coast, the west seems like some strange foreign land, so far away and divided by an inhospitable stretch of desert. If Magnetic Dimensions is anything to go by, perhaps that isn’t too inaccurate an assessment. This album makes me wonder if in fact Perth is an otherplace of mystics, exotic bazaars and intergalactic travelers. Maybe something has happened out there. Something weird added to the water, or chemicals lingering in the air. At the very least this wild and blissful slice of psychedelia is a reminder that interesting things are happening on the other side of the divide. Titles like Mysterium Sacred Oils, Trepidation of the Spheres and Apeman/Spaceman should fill you in nicely on what to expect.

I imagine this would actually be the perfect soundtrack to crossing the great Australian deserts between the east and west coasts. A perfect soundtrack to a drugged out, hallucinatory journey across an endless dead sea of sand and salt. It’s otherworldly caravan music. Futuristic gypsy music. It’s the sound of slowly and merrily going mad in the outback.

The artwork I was supplied with came strangely enough as a diptych. Two images featuring kaftans, yoga poses, yellow op-art and lo-fi photography. Like the music, it all feels like it was produced in a bedroom in a house on some astral plane. Messy. Folksy. Spacey. Magnetic Dimensions is at times unsettling and at others quite beautiful. Exactly what psychedelia is all about. It’s not an album that stays with you for long once it’s over, but it’s one that sends you off on that journey of oddness and ecstasy once it’s begun.

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About Author

Heath Killen is a graphic designer, illustrator and blogger currently based in Newcastle, Australia. You can hire him. He works for money or wine.

2 Comments

  1. i was just about to upload my own review of this album when i noticed heath’s version already online. no use wasting a perfectly fine review, especially for such a good release, so here it is…

    I’ve been on a bit a psychedelic music kick of late, ranging from the 60s garage-punk type through to the contemporary Not Not Fun label type, with spaced-out pitstops across the decades in between, so it’s a good time for Magnetic Dimensions by Perth’s Silver Bulletin to land on my review pile. The whole release has a certain amount of mystery around it. Until two days ago there was no Silver Bulletin website in existence and even now, with one up, I still can’t quite work out the track titles. A Bandcamp page for the release contains only four tracks, with titles, while my CD copy indicates nine tracks, none of which come titled on the packaging or in i-Tunes or, from what I can find, anywhere on the ‘net. Which has the combined effect of making me desperate to find out, searching the web fruitlessly for more info. What I can report is that Silver Bulletin is Brave New World head man Camryn Rothenbury. And this is his fourth release this year, most of which are now out of print.

    Magnetic Dimensions is head music. It starts out with a track mildly reminiscent of Sun Araw with it’s skeletal drum machine framework, deep dubby bass and guitar noodling though, thankfully, there is no reliance on blues clichés as there is with the Americans. As the disc progresses, we move through lots of hand percussion, some timid vocals which bring to mind 80s-era Flaming Lips and lots of guitars sounding like they’ve been recorded by just plugging the guitar into the desk with a kind of Neu!-ish effect. There’s wonderful contrast between dry and reverbed sounds giving the recordings a a layered soundfield. Repetition is used to good effect, particularly on the seventh track, which wouldn’t sound out of place with a Tom Waits vocal line over it’s wooden percussion and vibrato guitar strums. Much of the psychedelia is of the pastoral variety, blissful rather than edgily paranoid. Though the odd track here and then ends in a chaos of delay feedback noise, just to keep you on your toes. Track eight applies mildly middle eastern acoustic guitar filigrees over heavily delayed percussion and gradually more bizarrely pitch-shifted vocal harmonies. Then the album finishes with eight minutes of piano glissando buried in echos of itself, obscuring movement in washes of spectral stasis.

    According to the new website, there’s only 70 copies of this. I’ve got one of them and won’t be letting go, so there’s not too many left. I’d highly recommend getting one.

    Adrian Elmer