For a release that fixates upon the familiar conjoined twins of affection and angst, Majical Cloudz’s Turns Turns Turns EP strikes deeply varied timbres across its tracks. The recording and performance project of Montreal songwriter Devon Welsh came to light this year via a guest slot on Grimes’s Oblivion, a smattering of singles, and a series of notoriously intimate gigs with producer Matthew Otto. On Majical Cloudz’s proper Arbutus debut, Welsh hones a minimalist strain of synth-pop that’s as architectural as it is emotive.
While Majical Cloudz’s previous record buried artful pop beneath alien lichen, Turns Turns Turns abandons the overflowing palettes of II to narrow in on a straighter story. Excising over-saturated sampler hymnals and fogged-up falsetto, Welsh delivers lucid songs that rely as heavily on negative space as they do on animated textures and low-fi percussion.
Unlike labelmate and close friend Grimes, whose language fractures and dissolves in a bubbling pink wash, Welsh uses words as statuary. Each lyric emerges opaque and unperturbed by entropy. On the EP’s title track, Welsh drags his forked voice across a ponderous beat as chiffon synths shimmer at the backdrop. The unflinchingly warm ”What That Was” entertains the illusion of invincibility through companionship over a krautrockian click-track. But it’s only after its most infantile moment (the bratty “I Don’t Believe In Anybody”) that Turns Turns Turns spills its true ink. Wrenching closer “I Want To Warn You” weaves humbly sad lyrics among grinding columns of sound. ”This is not a game. I love you,” insists Welsh–right before lamenting, “all at once, all my fears come true.”
By preserving blank space between his lyrics and their mechanical scaffolds, Welsh counterpoints the omnipresent alienation of slick, overcrowded electronica. Turns Turns Turns is a warm hollow on a cold moon–and a fine place for Majical Cloudz to take root.
Essential Tracks: “I Want To Warn You”