ORGAN THING: Ian William Craig’s rather gorgeous new album, Music for Magnesium_173, something that’s just rather good to share space with… 

Ian William Craig – Music for Magnesium_173 (Fat Cat/13071) – It surely should be easy to pin down why these pieces, this collection of music. This album is so good to just listen to, to just share space with, surely it is rather simple task to explain it? So why is it such a struggle to put together some kind of review? Why have I been wrestling with it for days now? I mean, I know I like it, I have no idea what Magnesium 173 is? I have no idea about computer games in general but this does suggest the game is surely worth a look if you’re that was inclined. This sounds nothing like my idea of what computer game music is, big slabs of slowly moving sound, well no, not slabs but not clouds either, there is weight to these recordings and yes, gorgeous is a good word –

“Prolific Vancouver-based singer/composer (and visual artist) Ian William Craig returns with a gorgeous new LP of material commissioned to soundtrack the computer game Magnesium 173. Released on double vinyl and digital formats, the record comprises a set of twelve bold and immersive pieces. Possessing a genuine weight and power, ‘Music for Magnesium_173’ offers another tour de force display of Craig’s peerless power as an improvising composer able to summon and shape the sublime via an arsenal of modified tape machinery, electronics and his own gorgeous voice, with the results forging a unique kind of choral-based, heavily-abrasive take on ambient composition”.

Ambient, now there’s another word, when that word is concerned with music, that I tend to back away from, this is far from being just another (tedious) “Ambient” release to neatly put in that subsection in the record shop, this is subtle, sublime, choral and rather spiritual, this is emotionally moving and yes yes yes, rather gorgeous. This is an album that has all the time in the world to get where it might be going. This isn’t a slab of music, dense maybe, considered, carefully crafted, “gorgeous” really is the word, every bit of it, every track on this fully formed gorgeously crafted album, never jsut a slab though.  

  Created by Graham Johnson, Magnesium 173 launched in August 2021 and is described as “an elegant puzzle game inspired by quantum mechanics”, which uses a branching series of puzzles to explore a set of rules, with new ideas constantly introduced, examined and twisted. Ian’s music is likewise rippling with possibility and continually in flux. With delays in the game’s development, his original attempts at a score ended up being released back in 2018 as the ‘Thresholder’ EP. A new set of material was composed but then lost when a computer containing the mixes was stolen. Ian was then forced to try and recreate that music from the stems and some old Logic file versions, resulting in this released version – its form only fixed down as one of numerous possible outcomes with the accidents of the partly-controlled, part-random collaboration of his machines playing their part.

It does sound big, expansive, mostly wordless, sometimes beautifully choral, “Largely wordless yet rooted as ever in the power and beauty of Craig’s voice run through a variety of customised analogue tape machines, the album is a bold and singular work which sees Ian introducing elements of modular synthesis for the first time” – rich, dynamic, smooth, textured, warm, slowly moving, always slow, not quite droning, and yes, gorgeous really really is the word… (sw)

“Another wonderful web of sound for listeners to get lost within”, ‘Music for Magnesium_173’ is set for release on September 23rd and will be available as a digital release and also on double vinyl.

Fat Cat Records / Album details / Bandcamp / / Ian William Craig

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