Magda: From The Fallen Page (M_nus)
It’s got to be a tough racket to make it in electronic music as a self-sufficient woman. The scene is male-dominated as is, but on top of that there tends to be blatant sexism when it comes to female faces in the genre. Women in electronic music seem to usually be cast off as mere pretty faces, voices atop male-made music, a dash of added (and sometimes, admittedly, much needed) sex appeal in the nerdiest of genres. Considering the way female DJs-cum-artists have been betrayed by their stylists and/or labels in the past — consider the tarted-up busty “pop star” persona of DJ Rap or the fake band of Chicks on Speed, whose most exciting output was largely backed by leftfield producers Peter Rehberg, Gerhard Potuznik and Tobi Neumann — it’s not surprising that rising female electronic music stars are evaluated with more than a hint of suspicion. Magda bore the brunt of this herself, but not without a sense of humor; a “Magda make the tea” t-shirt made the rounds for a while, implying that her talents were better suited for the kitchen than the studio. I think the original intent of the shirt was to be tongue-in-cheek, to simultaneously sneer and wink at the sexism and the thought, conscious or subconscious, on a lot of people’s minds, that utter disbelief that an attractive young woman could be talented enough to turn out severe minimal jams as well as heavyweights like Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos. Still, the sentiment persists — why is it so hard for many to listen objectively to music as music and not in the context of who made it and where and why? I ask this of myself as much as of the anonymous reader or listener… Sociology aside, Madga has turned out a full-length album for Hawtin’s M_nus label, and it bears many of the hallmarks of her repertoire as well as the label’s overall aesthetic. M_nus usually is fairly reductive in its sound, putting less-is-more on a pedestal more than the average minimal techno imprint. Much like its art direction implies, there is something almost regally minimal yet dusty and dark about these tracks. Like most minimal creations, every detail counts, and Magda rarely leaves one untouched. This is not to say that From The Fallen Page is lacking in a pulse or some sense of fun… many of the tracks herein have a subtle wink such as the weird bending breakdown of “Entertainment” or the warped quasi-melodic coda of “Lost in Time.” At times she gets a little tougher, adding in a chuggier bassline (“Little Bad Habits”), whereas at other points the sound is a little lighter, including the italo-tinged “Japan” or the minimal electro workout “Music Box,” each with a little more melodic flair. When I take it in as a whole, my attention sometimes fades, despite having the more melodic tracks at the rear to prick up my ears more, but it’s nonetheless a fine collection of minimal techno and electronics. Whatever suffers in playback as a whole is made up for in the crafting of details, making each track in itself strong. The digital version of the album comes with an hour-long mix of all of the tracks, done as a complimentary bonus by Magda herself.