Download: Magic Lantern “Feasting On Energy”

(from High Beams out tomorrow on Not Not Fun)

Download: Magic Lantern “At The Mountains Of Madness”

(from the now out-of-print CD-R)

Tip for L.A. RECORD and guitarist Cameron himself, who I will surely be meeting bills-in-hand momentarily. Not Not Fun is releasing Magic Lantern‘s long-overdue first full-length and first vinyl, though they’ve got a stack of solo LPs out already, and they’re pretty much the perfect label for them. They came out of nowhere at last year’s Tee Pee fest—their prior band experience then was limited to a gig on NPR?—and not only were they viciously impressive from day one, but it turned out they all lived just down the street in Long Beach.

Their old CD-R (with the absorptive “At The Mountains Of Madness”) is also due out on vinyl and captures what they do well: wide-open visionary Spaceman/Guru Guru improvs that should be measured like movies, not songs. (The Magic Lantern guys also know more about film than anyone I’ve ever sat beside.) But their set at Bill’s RX Club at Que Sera last month found them in high-gravity mode—sounded like Hawkwind or Sabbath and probably flattened down that little stage a few inches. “That’s what happens when all you do is sit around listening to Funkadelic,” said their aux/flex/keys player Phil. Select Lanternography below.

The L.A. RECORD interview done at 8 am at Portfolio’s before we all had to go to work. Earliest local interview I did all year. They were surprisingly alert.

What makes good drone?
P: It’s decorative but not intrusive.
Like good curtains.
P: Exactly. You don’t want to intrude—don’t wanna be boring.
C: Good psych has to be super-progressive. Not in the sense of prog rock, but constantly leading somewhere—even if this doesn’t have a huge climax.
P: A journey—when we play any Magic Lantern song, but especially like ‘Mountains Of Madness,’ I’m thinking of a journey.
To a riff-filled land?
P: Following the weedian caravan.

And follow-up from District from an interview at Merced’s, where I hope someone got the shrimp:

Magic Lantern (guitarists Cameron Stallones and William Giacchi, bassist Gavin Fort, drummer Chip Knechtel and auxiliary unchained Phil French) appeared from some truly cosmic nowhere last August—the kind of place where the big bang comes with narration by Vincent Price and gamelan accompaniment. But they really came from Long Beach with hideously deep record collections and such an intimidating cinema scholarship that new hires at the DVD store clap palm to heart on sight. Each particle of Magic Lantern music—half-improvised instrumentals confine the same basic universal components as a super-collider—trails a fine connection to something vast and primal, a nature sound from ancient times revived by future-primitive technology. (The Frankenstein family explored similar electronic potential.) While their long-awaited full-length remains long awaited, says Stallones—though two releases are scheduled for this summer on head labels Not Not Fun and Ruralfaune—Magic Lantern will be appearing for their first show since winter this weekend.

Which is the definitive Magic Lantern recording so far?
William Giacchi (guitar): For me it’s probably “Mountains of Madness” because it was recorded a long time ago and I still feel pretty happy with it. A lot of our older stuff—I’ve kind of moved on. But I’m really happy with that.
You’re happiest with the track where you’re the only musician on the recording?
W: Pretty funny, isn’t it? No—it’s just the vision of that entire sound.
Cameron Stallones (guitar): At most, we’ll start with a riff or half a riff and see where it goes—or just a mood. We’ve been listening a ton to the first two Funkadelic records and freaking out. Usually the most creative things come to us like 20 minutes in as we’re playing. We did a top 10 records for Dusted magazine—a fun process. A couple weeks of taking 60 records and trying to write about them. All the usual stuff from us—Parson Sound, Black Sabbath self-titled, Sleep’s Dopesmoker, OV by Orthrelm, Can Ege Bamyasi, Faust IV, and we had Abbey Road.
Would it be easier for the band to agree on 10 films?
C: Our art tastes are more divergent—it’d be harder.
Phil French (vocals/percussion/trumpet/etc.): William and I recently completed a tape on DNT records called the Piss—it’s basically a reaction to watching zombie films in a completely concentrated time. We got on a zombie kick years ago and were getting into Romero, Dawn of the Dead, The Dead Next Door, all the great sleazy ’80s zombie films that we distilled down to a regurgitation—emphasis on the gurgitating. There’s nothing too subtle about it! Real demented ’80s synth work, a lot of clatter and scraping and moaning. Lots of moans.
Can you identify what each of you uniquely brings to an intra-band project like that?
C: We’re at almost terminal velocity as far as side projects.
W: Maybe all of us want Magic Lantern to be a little more distinctly rock, to really emphasize the rhythm and the groove. But we all wanna do other stuff—we listen to a lot of pure drone music, and we’re excited about that, too. I’ve been playing guitar for seven or eight years and it always felt kind of clunky in my hands until I got comfortable with the blues scale, which is so simple but such a freeing thing. You can get so much out of that. For me it’s about simplifying rather than trying to take the really heavy approach.
P: That’s been the challenge for me. Coming from a point of true minimalism and seeking that in a true sense—not dabbling or toying with it as a hobby, but seeing the grander ideas. It’s definitely creating a new space that isn’t used in your outward daily rhythm. Daily living is maximal and overwhelming. Minimalism is the antidote.



  1. these guys are SICK. saw them a few months ago at The Echo, loud and tight!!

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