ALBUM REVIEW: The Magician ‘Magic Tape 100’

A lot has changed since Belgian DJ and producer The Magician was primarily known as that bloke with penchant for pulling off the odd magic trick in between mixes behind the decks. These days, the magic he’s best known for is the kind that his decks produce rather than anything that happens behind them.
Later this month, he celebrates an amazing feat – his ‘Magic Tape’ series, which started roughly a decade ago, reaches its 100th edition. There’s no letter from the queen, alas, but all the same ‘Magic Tape 100’ gets the red carpet treatment via a high profile release from Potion Records.

The Magician – or Stephen Fasano to his mum – explained his concept for the landmark 100th tape saying: “I wanted to strike hard with the 100th edition of the Magic Tape series by asking several artists to work on an exclusive track for this event. At the beginning, I had a list of 30 artists whose music I’m fond of and whom I’ve supported on my Magic Tape mixes over the years, but also with whom I have a friendly bond”.

So, if you want to talk about the DJ equivalent of pulling a few plump rabbits out of the hat, that’s exactly what he’s done here. Lining up talent from all over the world, he’s managed to coax exclusives from Planningtorock, Classix, Lxury, Aston Shuffle and Fabich among others, as well as – the real cherry on top – a new track of his own, which has been set to a most stylish video featuring the award winning ballet dancer Silvia Saint-Martin from the Opéra National de Paris.

While loosely falling into the ‘house’ bracket, that broad term doesn’t really do the Magician sound justice. It may have been his 2011 remix of Lykke Li’s ‘I Follow Rivers’ that saw him breakthrough, but he has a lengthy pedigree including releasing on the unimpeachably cool Parisian label Kitsuné and as a member of celebrated alt-electronic duo Aeroplane. It’s this subtly eclectic approach that makes the 15 track selection ‘Magic Tape 100’ so enduring and appealing. So, while the overall effect is friendly, earworm-packed grooves that are probably better suited to the kind of fairly civilised lockdown party where you don’t mind spilling a drink or two but not trash the house, than your full on authority-taunting illegal warehouse rave.

As befits someone who knows their respective dance music onions, this collection is actually full of different influences and flavours, all neatly lasoo-ed and woven into the overriding fabric and atmosphere.

‘Free’ by Ten Vet, for example, employs not only some actual samples of N-Trance’s manic ‘Only Love (Set You Free)’, it also adds some thumping rave stabs that are authentic to the period, but all without feeling the need to up to the tempo to early 90s hardcore levels. Jengi’s ‘Get Down’, meanwhile, has hints of 80s synthpop dazzle and early electro, and there’s a click house, snippet-funk feel to the opening tune ‘My Fire’ by Planningtorock

That’s only half the picture, too. Add liberal lashings of disco and funk that pop up regularly and waves of Scandi-style ethereal-ism, and you’re getting close to the essence of The Magician. One big dollop of inclusive, inviting, irresistible dance music. Now that really is magic.