In the first half of 2017, Strange Majik released the ‘Soul Crisis‘ EP. It’s four songs melded the typical Strange Majik funk, rock and soul sounds with a less typical anger. Donald Trump had just become one of the most powerful men in the world with a mandate that would drag the US backwards at a frightening rate. No wonder Strange Majik’s head honcho David Pattillo was in a foul mood. Several months down the line, very little has changed with the state of the world. Trump has increasingly made America a laughing stock, but people aren’t taking it lying down…or letting it stifle their voices or creativity.
Maybe as a reaction to the previous year, though maybe just coincidence, 1974 didn’t have the all round focus of it’s forebears. Whereas 1973 had been a home to various albums that have spanned generations, ’74’s best strengths were in the singles market.
Bowie’s escalating drug habit left him with ideas of an unfinished musical and an album that’s arguably his most unfocused of the decade. ‘Rebel Rebel’, however, remains a great and enduring single cut, brimming with the last vestiges of glam. Lulu did an excellent job of covering ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ and ‘Watch That Man’, filling both sides of an essential 7″, Ace’s ‘How Long’ – while easily dismissed as soft radio filler has stood the test of time and now sounds like a near perfect piece of songcraft, while everyone’s favourite ragamuffin, David Essex, topped the UK chart with a smart and disposable single about making disposable pop music.
At the beginning of the second quarter of 2016, David Pattillo (aka Strange Majik) released ‘Raised On Rock ‘n’ Roll’, an exploration of rock and blues styles that celebrated a love of music. It was arguably the best album released that year.
As he then set about busying himself with other extra curricular projects, it seemed fair to think there wouldn’t be any more new music from Mr. Majik for a time. …And then, in March 2017, he dropped a new EP without any real prior warning. Why the need to follow up such a great work so quickly? Simply put, the awful political climate in the US inspired Pattillo to make his thoughts public. In his own words: “We got a soul crisis. USA 2017. A white power machine in the white house and a protector seems nowhere in sight. Don’t let the demagogue get you down. Get out and represent your people, show your love, and keep the faith.”
The Black Milk Project released their debut EP ‘Holes‘ in March 2016. By the time the recording had been made available for streaming and purchase via Bandcamp, it had already been a case of all change for the Sheffield based jazz poppers with vocalist Delia Taffler having moved on. Guitarist Kris McAdam had other projects and interests on the go, however, and his funk pop outfit Bongo & The Soul Jar had already set about recording their debut full length. That debut, ‘What Have You Got To Lose’, is a brilliantly professional work with it’s core sounds culled from a late eighties and early nineties vintage. While the musicianship is strong, it’s never overly showy: each play of the album uncovers the work of a very natural sounding musical unity; the funk grooves that lie at the core of the best tracks possess an almost timeless quality.
Strange Majik mainman David Pattillo is a well known studio hand from New York, whom between 2011-2013 was most often seen as half of garage blues duo The Dead Exs. After two excellent albums in that stripped back and distorted style, his Strange Majik project finds the multi-instrumentalist spreading his wings. Pattillo’s Strange Magik guise is primarily a vehicle to experiment with a world of music that largely would never have fit The Exs straight ahead mood and also allows him to work with a revolving cast of musicians and vocalists. The end results straddle funk and r ‘n’ b, with a swathe of old fashioned psychedelic guitars beefing up the sound – the message here is to close your eyes, open your mind and feel the majik.