Occasionally a voice is so striking, so brave, that it’s virtually impossible to ignore. From the moment you press play on Impersonator, you’ll find that you, too, are unable to turn your back on Devon Welsh. His Majical Cloudz project is possibly not the most musical piece out there, but that voice will forever brand itself into your subconscious.
The title track from Impersonator sets the tone for your listening experience immediately; it has a light atmospheric wash and some vocal samples spun in reverse, all before Welsh makes his first appearance. “I’m a liar, I say I make music,” might resonate at this point, but his work within the realm of his vocals is so striking that your intrigue will win out, pushing you onto the next track. “This Is Magic” ups the musical ante, utilizing a light pulse in the distance to make way for Devon to forever cement his voice in your life. Within the first few lines, he comes in deep, then let’s the vocal soar to loftier heights, quietly repeating syllables. There’s no going back.
Majical Cloudz isn’t a project that needs much more than just stripped down accompaniment to set the stage for everything in between. On “Bugs Don’t Buzz,” the hammering of chords sets a stark tone, and besides the heavenly performance from Welsh, you won’t get too much more. At times, his companion in arrangements, Matthew Otto, turns up some ambient noise, and it perfectly accentuates the performance, or clears space for re-introduction. And then it’s gone. It’s over. Yet you quickly go back to check yourself, wanting to be sure that the moment you just experienced lives beyond a snapshot in the past.
One of the things I like about Impersonator is the self-deprecating seriousness of Welsh. It’s clear at a certain point that he doesn’t entirely take this project, or at least the lyrics, as seriously as one would expect, considering the musical approach. There’s a childishness, or perhaps a bit of whimsy that enables your ears/heart to attach themselves either to the vocal or the lyric, which happen to be two very different things. Simplicity is rarely as successful as it is throughout the entirety of this album, and you won’t be able to escape the pleasure, as it provides an absolute clarity that benefits the entire listen.
I can’t explain Impersonator to anyone; it has to be heard in order to be completely understood. It’s existence, in a musical landscape burdened by “lo-fi” or “noise rock,” is extremely refreshing. Each track begs to be heard, and in fact, deserves to be heard; you’re not going to find a song that’s worthy of skipping throughout. Yes, in the end, Devon Welsh and his voice will be the force that wins you over. But, the concept and the execution are so perfect that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything this year as endearing as this release from Majical Cloudz.
Download: Majical Cloudz – Childhood’s End [MP3]