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Truthful Masks

In 1891, Oscar Wilde wrote: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” This evokes mysterious electronic musician Slow Magic (nobody’s sure who he really is), who performs behind a multi-colored animal mask, never revealing his true face. The popular producer stops in Eugene behind his latest release Float

Wearing a mask seems to free Slow Magic, bringing a level of rawness to his live performance, moving him closer than many to an audience reared on electronic music as a live experience rather than the strict domain of the recording studio. Slow Magic recorded Float in northern Europe, and there’s more vocal work than usual from Tropics, Kate Boy and Peter Silberman of Antlers. 

What’s always present is Magic’s nimble manipulation of sounds existing somewhere between ambient and concrete musical ideas. Slow Magic draws equally from modern electronica, soul, hip hop, worldly textures and new age music, and there’s even some neo-classical on the track “Diamond Ring.” Like a lot of current EDM, Slow Magic frequently builds to some kind of alarm or perhaps catharsis, sonic climaxes building as synthesized sounds crescendo, reaching peaks heightened and stretched by digital technology. 

“I wanted to capture the raw sounds and feelings and freedom of my first albums,” Slow Magic says via press release. “I let the songs write themselves without forcing them to go anywhere they didn’t naturally go.”

Float is optimistic, youthful and triumphant, explaining the popularity of artists like Slow Magic with younger music fans. Slow Magic tries on musical masks from behind his shielded visage, which also sounds like the fundamental process of growing up. 

“Young people, who are still uncertain of their identity,” poet W.H. Auden wrote, “often try on a succession of masks in the hope of finding the one which suits them — the one, in fact, which is not a mask.”

Slow Magic performs with Point Point and Qrion 9 pm Sunday, Dec. 3, at WOW Hall, $15 advance, $18 door, all-ages. — Will Kennedy