From its conception as a bedroom-studio hobby in Summer 1996, Piano Magic's trajectory has never been textbook - random at best.
Originally, a self-confessed revolving door operation - musicians arriving, contributing and leaving as they pleased - they harvested a catalogue of varied singles, EPs and two albums by 1998.
This conveyor-belt membership also resulted in a plethora of sonic stylings, from smallbeat Kraftwerkian Meccano Pop on debut album, Popular Mechanics (1997) to the breathless, ethereal, multi-layered melancholy of Low Birth Weight (1998).
Only in 1999 did Piano Magic resemble anything like a conventional format group. Smooth-talked into playing a Dutch festival which actually turned out quite well, they decided to play anywhere they were wanted and began to build something of a cult following, particularly on the European Continent. They spectacularly showcased the post-modernist baroque sound of Artists' Rifles (1999) at the Benicassim and BAM music festivals.
Ironically, the band have never infiltrated the hearts of the British music press - out of time, unfashionable and kinda weird looking, its best not to stay home much. Tours of Germany, Holland, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain peppered the next few years.
The band signed to 4AD Records in 2000 and delivered their most critically contentious work, 'Writers Without Homes' and the soundtrack to Spanish director, Bigas Lunas' Son De Mar movie. Though oft-maligned, 'Writers Without Homes' was a particularly monumental milestone for the band, as it featured the first vocal recording for 33 years of lost 60's/70's folk heroine, Vashti Bunyan.
Post-'Writers', Piano Magic have become closer to a more 'conventional group format.' Drafting in French musicians, Jerome Tcherneyan and Franck Alba alongside English bassist, Alasdair Steer, Piano Magic recorded The Troubled Sleep Of Piano Magic, for Spanish independent, Green Ufos. This album perfectly encapsulated the live sound of the group - delicate vocals, glistening guitars, insistent drums, anthemic synth washes.
A new record, Saint Marie EP followed in June 2004 and featured collaborations with, again, Vashti Bunyan, Alan Sparhawk from Low and Ben Ayres from Cornershop. Piano Magic's 2005 album, Disaffected, stretched fingers into an even more melodic, near-on "pop" sound, magically without dispensing with their notorious depth of emotion. It features guest vocal contributions from John Grant of The Czars and Angle David-Guillou of Klima (the latter, now with her own debut solo album out on the Peacefrog label).
In the 2 interim years between the release of Disaffected and their newest album, 'Part Monster,' the band have continued to be prolific and not only in concert (the band recently added Turkey, Poland, Italy, Greece and Portugal to their gig list).
Johnson has released a debut album of experimental electronic under the name, Textile Ranch and along with keyboardist, Cedric Pin, as Future Conditional, they've put out an album of electropop on LTM, 'We Don't Just Disappear.'
To date, Piano Magic has harboured over 60 sonic orphans with nothing better to do, recorded 7 proper albums, a double CD retrospective and many, many singles. They've outlived several of the labels they've recorded for and show no signs of stopping. At this point in time (August 2007), Piano Magic is Glen Johnson, Franck Alba, Jerome Tcherneyan, Alasdair Steer and Cedric Pin.
Rocket Girl Releases
Seasonally Affective: A Piano Magic Retrospective 1996-2000
There's No Need For Us To Be Alone / The Canadian Brought Us Snow
Low Birth Weight
Low / Piano Magic / Transient Waves
Sleep At The Bottom / Green Acres