Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

White Magic 

Dark Stars (Drag City)

Wednesday, Nov 21 2007

White Magic's moniker — and the sometimes arcane sensibilities of its frontwoman, Mira Billotte — spurred tastemakers to use the words "spiritual" and "ethereal" when describing the act's brand of freak-folk. The trouble was, her caterwauling alto and thick piano melodies often made the group's output more earth-clump tangible than otherworldly wispy.

The four-song EP Dark Stars finds the Brooklyn act working to further dispel lazy pigeonholing. Piano parts break off and pile up in clunky heaps. The drumming is mixed low beneath flakes of guitar, and Billotte alternates between dark-haired Disney villainess and pull-my-cord Debbie Harry doll. Over the circular piano playing and folksy guitars of "Very Late," she repeats, "You better take me home" — though there's more snarl than seduction in her words. "Poor Harold" is a mix of carousel percussion, Stygian narrative, and mirthful lupine howling, which somehow works together.

White Magic's songs don't always coalesce, particularly when the music turns maddeningly prolix in style and arrangement. "Shine on Heaven" is an infinity of moody piano and recurring lyrics, the occasional hook revealing itself for an instant before quickly receding. The band occupies a crawlspace in the rickety folk hall of artists like Joanna Newsom and Fairport Convention, but such erratic layouts prevent White Magic from hitting its creative ceiling.

About The Author

Ryan Foley


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"