• piano magic Dark Horses (CD, £6.25)

    label: Make Mine Music

    Their music has run the gauntlet between electronica, post-rock, baroque, modern classical and even glitch, though in recent years Piano Magic has settled on a unique, romantic, classic British alternative rock that echoes the most vibrant work of their prime inspirations. 'Dark Horses,' the latest in their now annual 4-track EP transmissions, nods, consciously or otherwise, to the likes of Joy Division, The Smiths and The Chameleons, whilst managing to sound indisputably like Piano Magic. These songs are built on pummelled drums, chainsaw guitars, cathedral reverbs, insistent bass and Glen Johnson's reliably Morrissey-esque observations on a life less sweet. Despite operating almost entirely beneath the radar in their native UK, since their first release back in 1996, Piano Magic have managed to successfully carve out a niche of their own that constantly defies expectation and sidesteps music industry convention. By never staying long on any one label, playing most of their concerts abroad and consistently redefining their sound, the band has not only survived against all the odds but built up a solid, devout worldwide fanbase. Their 12 long players and 18 other format releases have featured collaborations with Vashti Bunyan, Low, Tarwater, Hefner and Cornershop, amongst others. They've soundtracked a film by Spanish director, Bigas Luna, signed on and off with 4AD, Morr Music and Important Records, toured in Russia, Poland, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and England. Even so, Piano Magic remain, unashamedly, a "cult phenomenon", not destined for recognition until perhaps a decade after they finally call in the ghost.

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