Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

White Magic; Dark Stars

Written by Tami Devine

The first time I heard of White Magic was when Sadie asked me to review them. I was like, "Who?" And then once I got my hands on the CD, I knew exactly the distinctive sound that is White Magic. There was no more who, but rather, "Why only now are we introduced?" I could have used this music in my ultra-moody, dark early-twenties.

The first time I heard of White Magic was when Sadie asked me to review them. I was like, "Who?" And then once I got my hands on the CD, I knew exactly the distinctive sound that is White Magic. There was no more who, but rather, "Why only now are we introduced?" I could have used this music in my ultra-moody, dark early-twenties.

 Dark Stars is White Magic’s second solo EP in a history of galaxy-themed music making—according to their press kit, they are most interested in exploring the "dark stars…stars that remain unseen in the night sky and within us." With one listen, the mystery of the universe is sprawled before us in a way that makes you want to stay inside your apartment and make dark and mysterious arts and crafts.

 The band rejects anyone categorizing them into the "Brooklyn band" subset (didn't that become a faux pas when Interpol became famous?). Their lead singer, Mira Billotte (previously in Quix*o*tic with Slant 6’s Christina Billotte, also her sister), in fact, specified in an interview that if anything, they are now a "Manhattan" band, since they recently moved. The truth is that this music places itself in no place, except the dark, slow currents of the soul. On their MySpace page, they call their genre “Tropical / Experimental / Dub,” which in my opinion, is the only possible genre for good music (kind of biased, I know).

On the first track, "Shine on Heaven," Mira Billotte's cool voice blends beautifully into the hypnotic rhythms of the piano. People like to compare her powerful and deep voice to Chan Marshall’s of Cat Power, but homie don't play that. Chan Marshall's voice knows only one vocal color, whiny, whereas Mira shows that husky can also mean optimistic. While Cat Power is music to listen to while feeling bad for yourself, White Magic unleashes the power of living.

Aside from having an amazing lead singer, the band also isn’t afraid to experiment with and diversify their sound. In their song, “Very Late,” Mira hauntingly asks above a chilling piano, "What’s on your mind, boy? You're home very late..." Relationships can sometimes be hell, hell, hell, and this song bluntly asks for answers amid gorgeous swirls of piano and voice. "Poor Harold" kind of has a surrealist circus sound, where Mira shows off her vocal and emotional range. "Winds" has a more uplifting vibe with a sweet little melody that goes on forever. And, not on the EP, but if you’re in the mood, White Magic’s incredible cover of Bob Dylan's, "As I Went Out One Morning" is on their MySpace page, in all of Mira's rich vocal glory.

 Miss Billotte definitely comes off as the MVP of this album, even if there were some other dudes who helped her out. She is the star, this iconic voice, and her Joan Baez-esque songstressing exudes coolness. Already an indie icon for some-odd years, I know we are going to be seeing even more of this lady, so get used to it.

 While Billotte’s voice sounds as though it could go on forever, it doesn’t. The CD ends after just four tracks. So if you're like me, this might piss you off a bit, but next time you should put the whole thing on repeat so that you can zone out—except if you're driving. I don't want you to crash the car, so maybe don't do that.


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