2020 has been one of the worst years of my life, but this record has comforted and carried me through the waves of it all. I usually listen to it two or three times successively, and each listening session gives me a new favorite song. Each one is human and full of candor. Cuddle Magic forever. I can't wait to catch a show again, someday.
Favorite track: Still In Touch.
Cuddle Magic recorded their newest album in a bathroom. What you hear is six people performing together (without headphones, amplification, or overdubs) nestled amidst 23 microphones in a bathroom.
Why the bathroom? In the winter of 2013, Cuddle Magic spent three months camped out at the same address, recording a beautiful and idiosyncratic set of richly orchestrated tracks. But none of it felt quite right, except for one recording, the product of one fortuitous afternoon spent crowding around a pump organ in the bathroom.
That singularly successful bathroom recording was never forgotten, and became the inspiration for Cuddle Magic’s sixth album, Bath. The bathroom transforms the music. It contributes an incredible natural reverb (It’s a cliche and true: everyone does sound better singing in the shower!).
Bath is a document of Cuddle Magic playing a lot like they did when they started out. They re-invent tropes of 21st-century pop song structure with the quietest acoustic sounds. This album is also, simply put, the sound of six people in the same room breathing and listening together. The band (Alec, Ben, Christopher, Cole, Dave and Kristin) wishes everyone safety & health, and looks forward to the day when we can all, once again, be in such close proximity to the people we love.
released July 3, 2020
ALEC SPIEGELMAN: bass clarinet, alto flute, voice, guitar, harmonica
BENJAMIN LAZAR DAVIS: voice, guitar
CHRISTOPHER MCDONALD: pump organ, keyboards, voice, guitar
COLE KAMEN-GREEN: trumpet, keyboards, percussion
DAVID FLAHERTY: percussion, sink
KRISTIN SLIPP: voice, keyboards, pump organ
BRIDGET KEARNEY: bass, voice on “WHAT IF I” and “STILL IN TOUCH”
RECORDED BY CHRISTOPHER MCDONALD AT THE PADDOCK IN EAST HAMPTON, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018
PRODUCED BY CUDDLE MAGIC
ADDITIONAL PRODUCTION BY JEREMY MCDONALD
MIXED AND MASTERED BY CHRISTOPHER MCDONALD IN PHILADELPHIA, MARCH/APRIL 2020
“WHAT IF I” was written by Cuddle Magic. “WORKING ON ME” and “ANYTHING” were written by Kristin Slipp and Cole Kamen-Green. “STILL IN TOUCH” and “GRACEFULLY” were written by Alec Spiegelman. “ELEANOR” was written by Benjamin Lazar Davis, Alec Spiegelman, and Sarah Pedinotti. “WHATEVER I WANT” was written by Bridget Kearney. “THIS WAY” was written by Kristin Slipp. “HURT A LITTLE” was written by Alec Spiegelman and Ana Egge. “VALID JAGGER” was written by Joan Wasser. “SINGALONG” was written by Alec Spiegelman and Benjamin Lazar Davis.
Bridget Kearney appears courtesy of Nonesuch Records and Verve Forecast.
I watched the video of them playing Truther for ages and finally took the plunge on an album. Good choice. The combination of repetition and abrupt changes is so dramatic it sometimes makes me laugh, as do the wild rhythms. A massive breath of fresh air from my usual ambient listening. Michael Upton
Chad Clark makes music in four dimensions. Please Advise offers a somewhat compact, yet still very outsized, version of his vision by virtue of its EP length. But walking around its dimensions, full of unknown colors and textures, I keep finding corners that lead to other rooms. Lars Gotrich