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They say moving house can be one of life's most stressful tasks. If one person knows about that its Manchester-based musical craftsman Marc Rigelsford, or as he’s become better known, Magic Arm. More used to wiring up microphones and keyboards than picking out wallpaper patterns, no one, least of all him, would have expected some innocent house-hunting to give life to a brand new album.
“I didn't think about recording at home until the new house began to empty as people moved out,” he reveals. “But I was slowly introduced to the perfect studio... houses have windows, studios don't. There’s something inspiring about being able to see a car or a bird.”
Following 2009’s debut album Make Lists Do Something, Images Rolling is a further exploration of the musical playground that is Magic Arm’s world. Somewhere between ‘This Way Up’ cardboard boxes and the stairwell in which the new record’s violin and trumpet sounds were recorded, a studio gradually took shape. Boasting an array of cables, switches, and instruments donated by friends and family such as a piano, guitar, bass, synths, keyboards, glockenspiel, various types of organ, and drums, Rigelsford’s new sound workshop offered the perfect balance between vocational artistic freedom and a chaotic living space; “Tripping over your instruments on your way to the kitchen is a constant reminder that there is something else that you should be doing,” he confesses.
Always one to find new avenues of exploring what’s readily presented in front of him simply by ‘giving it a whirl’ rather than exercising any form of technical training, Rigelsford is a true DIY pop maverick. From the colourful television theme music of Ski Sunday to that of the detective shows he grew up with, plus a penchant for big soundtracks like those of The Godfather, A fistful of Dollars, and Michael Galasso’s In the Mood for Love, his naturally inquisitive sense of sonic adventure has always been provoked by all that surrounds him.
Musing on a bout of melancholic nostalgia ('Images Rolling' refers to reflecting the past and the way that you can scroll through memories “like a television on the blink”, he says), this record is the sound of one man exploring not only where he’s been but also commenting upon the present; editing, re-editing, then editing again, an album itself. “. “It's an album inspired by the process of writing an album”
Moving away from the more electronic sound of his debut LP, Images Rolling has taken on the natural reverbs of the vast part-derelict three-storey house, coming over as an altogether warmer and more comforting entity. Take infectious opener Put Your Collar Up; classical sounds are thrown off centre by detuned pianos and woozy synths that move with hip hop bounce. Elsewhere Warning Sign recalls the ambience of Mercury Rev’s weirdly magical off-kilter daydreams whilst Lanes’ sweeping strings and the merry-go-round waltz of Great Life give light to Rigelsford’s new method of exploration in writing songs on a piano rather than a guitar for the very first time.
“After finishing the first album I bought a piano with the intention of learning it and it being a key part of the new album. I spent a few months learning Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata as an entry point.”
From entry point to its end Images Rolling is a restless, fearlessly ambitious, yet understated and articulate piece of work. No-one could ever accuse Rigelsford of making music that fits into any pigeon-shaped holes, but with this record he’s certainly found a musical home.
1. Put Your Collar Up
2. You Have Won
3. Warning Sign
4. Great Life
6. Type Endlessly
7. Is History
8. Tonight I Walk Alone
9. Under The Eaves
10. The Flood