Label: Hectic Eclectic Records
Genre: Experimental Folk
TL;DR: Pretty 6/10
‘Think of it as the soundtrack to the soundtrack to Fantasia.’
The Magic Lantern has decided not only to release new album, but also perform a new style of music too. A World In A Grain Of Sand sees the band attempt to perform what they describe as ‘experimental folk’, while the folk elements take the spotlight, it is nice to see what would typically be a pleasant sing-a-long by the campfire record be enhanced by the results of some jazz and the occasional avantgarde jig too.
Opening track Somebody Told Me has a real Noah And The Whale vibe to it. Blending a mix of bright and sunny acoustic guitars which could neighbour the ukulele featured on 5 Years Time, and the melancholy and optimistic approach in the vocals which are similar to L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. It is a nice way to begin an album because it focuses solely on the folk part of the genre, allowing the listener to access it a little easier than if the jazz experiments were wildly involved.
Infact it’s not until The Ship That Washed Away in which the experiments arrive, allowing it to start off in similar fashion to Somebody Told Me, and beginning around the halfway mark. The jazz is a nice touch to the track because the same they seem to sigh in and out produces a sense of innocence to it, and makes it sound like it could fit in any Disney film of the 90s (you know, before they started being lazy and using computers to paint everything.) However, this quickly ends after a pleasant set of Elbow-like vocal harmonisation and the experiments appear to have exploded, it is literally insane and indescribable. Definitely a surprise for the listener.
Guilty Hearts shows that the band can control the jazz influences by offering a much calmer, sweeter melody to the track. While it is nice to hear, it does make me wish that The Ship That Washed Away received the same treatment, because it could have evolved into a huge anthem of a track with the booming horns and all the instruments just protruding this big sound. But alas, it wasn’t to be.
A World In A Grain Of Sand is a very ambitious record, it offers a very strong performance of folk music, and offers this extreme jazz experimental side too. While it is an effort to be appreciated, a lot of the songs could have come across better if they featured a limited amount of jazz in the background, because sometimes it comes across a bit too strongly and overwhelming. Also, it is a very lengthy record, with many songs ranging from five to seven minutes, so it’s a wonder how huge this grain of sand really is if it can fit an entire world in it.