Personnel: Rosalie Cunningham (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, percussion); Anna Scott (cello); Jon Seagroatt (flute, saxophone); Raphael Mura (drums).
Audio Mixers: Ed Turner; Rosalie Cunningham.
Recording information: Gizzard Studios; Mushy Room Studios; The Engine Room, London.
The much anticipated sophomore studio long-player from the colorful English psych-rock/proto-metal outfit led by ex-Ipso Facto frontwoman Rosalie Cunningham, Desire's Magic Theatre doubles down on the retro-pageantry of Purson's 2013 debut. A heady amalgam of Deep Purple, T. Rex, Ten Years After, Dresden Dolls, and Dreamboat Annie-era Heart, the 13-track set commences with the meaty title cut, a proggy six-minute blast of skunky smoke drifting from the just-cracked window of a custom boogie van. That Sgt. Pepper-induced haze extends through to the more streamlined and economical, but no less muscular, "Electric Landlady" and its swampy, voodoo-blasted counterpart, "Dead Dodo Down." Cunningham is an alluring figure with a commanding vocal style that's both soulful and sordid, a clarion call to both the high court and the gutter. While Desire's Magic Theatre is hers alone to command, Cunningham's co-conspirators prove themselves to be worthy of her dark gifts, as they cast an aural net of kaleidoscopic doom/wonder that manages to touch on nearly every facet of the psych-rock playbook. The windswept "The Sky Parade" skillfully weaves the overwrought melancholy of Comus-era English folk with the explosive space rock of Bowie's "Moonage Daydream," while the frivolous "The Window Cleaner" ditches the gloom and doom and goes full-on knicker-knocking Swinging London. Even at its most far-reaching and absurd, Desire's Magic Theatre is marvelous fun, and it's a testament to the talents of all involved that it never dissolves into self-parody. ~ James Christopher Monger