Magik Markers | Balf Quarry

Drag City (2009)
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  May 12, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

Before Balf Quarry landed on my desk, I figured the dirtiest thing in Connecticut was Chris Dodd's browser history. Not so. Among other things — like guitar tones that buzz around like contact-high June bugs, Elisa Ambrogio's slack vocals wavering between coy calls and willfully distant snarls, and a production value so low and dense you feel you're listening to them from the dining room above their rehearsal space — Hartford natives the Magik Markers are one of the few bands who really, really don't work at all at the gym.

"Don't Talk in Your Sleep" cuts a dark, endlessly curving trail into the woods, its speed swells and stalls, guitars chime in and dash out, unattended oscillators hang like spooky backdrops — repetition is seldom this enjoyably uncertain. But they aren't one-riff ponies: "Jerks" is a scathing freakout that made me want to hear Sonic Youth's cover of the Untouchables' "Nic Fit" all of a sudden; "7/23" is a clopping, slightly flat, strangely iridescent love note; and the focus that disperses over the course of six hazy minutes of "State Numbers" takes the opportunity of "The Ricercar of Dr. Clara Haber" to slap itself in the face a few times and the shimmering outburst of "The Lighter Side of . . . Hippies" to remind you why you made it so deep into this oddly arresting album in the first place.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Connecticut, Sonic Youth, Christopher Dodd,  More more >
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