Listencorp review image of arena phantasy by maggie

Arena Phantasy

m a g g i e . w a v


Liam Murphy

December 20, 2019

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

m a g g i e . w a v introduces to the world of Arena Phantasy. Sweeping pads disappear…

m a g g i e . w a v introduces to the world of Arena Phantasy. Sweeping pads disappear down a steep chasm in front of us as a voice tells us to imagine… something. The message trails off into a cacophony of voices. A beautiful effect from the start, speaking to early computer programmings ability to create other worlds tarnished by the quality of technology available at the time. The pads slowly open up a beautiful pool of low-polygon water. As the rhythmic elements come in, we hear m a g g i e . w a v pulling back samples repeatedly. A methodology that feels juddered, but as the artist brings about the percussive elements we can feel the infectious rhythm the repeated samples bring. A smouldering guitar soars above all else, at certain points being played so fast it sounds more like an old dial-up tone. A crystalline sound shoots across the stereo field wiping out all noise except for the baying crowds. An announcer asks us if we’re ready, and it’s hard to answer. The introduction presented such a dynamic and interesting pallet of sound, it’s difficult to predict what will come next.

Like we’re been rushed along into some character select screen, Arena of Souls has an upbeat and action-packed sound. The mellow organs blend with distorted, robotic drum sequences. A beautiful duelling of lead guitar and synth takes place as both let rip with a beautifully dated solo. They twirl and spin together like rising phoenixes. m a g g i e . w a v starts tearing at the fabric, pulling the beat back suddenly creating a stuttering rhythm. The tempo, the sound, everything about the track is undeniably likeable. With a sudden drum breakdown, the song finishes.

World Eater ☒☒85 (feat. CHROM ‘47) percussion explodes in front of us and the guitar bursts out of its equalisation. What’s presented is head-nodding driving guitar line fit with a more contemporary bass drum-driven rhythm section. The disembodied voice finds itself after a while, before m a g g i e . w a v manipulates her, causing her to repeat herself. She lets loose with a slightly robotic wail before we head back into the hook melody. A familiar guitar sounds above the rest, and the licks of Don Henley bring us into a spiralling section as an arpeggiated synth pirouettes downwards. The Boys of Summer guitar line is usually vibrant and active, but here it is fed into itself to create this unrelenting spiral. m a g g i e . w a v executes it perfectly, the synth bursting out after a few times around. Though everything is smeared with this early-technology sound, it’s evident that the artist has more than a handle on the velocities and sounds that are playing.

Real starts with a familiar sound bite from Bladerunner before spiralling into a hopeful and adventurous motif. The drums m a g g i e . w a v instills are heavy-handed but restrained, creating that beautiful dramatic feeling of semi-electronic music of the 80s. A voice is once again stuttered and manipulated in order to create a effective hook. The main instruments cut out and we are led into a perfectly crafted build up. From here, the drums crash and m a g g i e . w a v repeats certain points of the sample until it becomes a frantic nothingness.

We dive into a sample of a scratchy radio station, an atmosphere hums in the background. The mood and music move swiftly, unable to settle on one certain sound, as something deep thunders behind. We hear a small slither of the legendary song Resonance by Home as this nostalgic feeling crashes into one of its ultimate contemporary homages. m a g g i e . w a v toys with the idea of real nostalgia and constructed memory.

Hex Flight begins anew with no nod to the atmosphere conveyed in the track before. An eerie bell pours out like trickling water. From there it slowly turns into a deluge of sound, descending notes fall as they begin to push against the sound quality barrier. A snare hits out like a robotic salvo, and in the slight break a automated guitar breaks into the fore. The riff played is incredibly impressive, with shimmering notes disappearing within milliseconds. A vocal sample is pulled back again and again to create another melodic hook for the song. The artist almost treats this vocal samples as percussive elements themselves, they are expertly picked and inserted into the song. The guitar takes one last spin before disappearing.


Muper Setroid (featuring Sev) sends flowery synth waves towards us as another descending bell sound begins. The synth waves melt into one another creating a wall of ethereal sound. A pacy drum beat begins with hi-hats sounding like creaking doors. Sev joins in for this one as we can hear the methodology of two artists within. Another lower guitar burns into the electronic landscape, this one actually having the power to grab the narrative of the song and lead it with its slightly restrained but impressive sound. From there another sliding, effortlessly skilful guitar solo begins spinning and pirouetting unfathomably quickly.

508 Loop Detected begins with juddered percussive sounds leading into one of the heaviest drum lines yet. So far, drums have almost been an afterthought to affect the path of the melody, this song flips that as the drum beat becomes the commander of the song. It opens out into a somewhat timid sounding melody, crystalline sounds appear behind the overarching drum patterns. With the affectations of the song swapped around like this, m a g g i e . w a v’s work has a much more intimidating feel, as if he were a dance music producer with a somewhat invested interest in a corrupted, digital aesthetic.

Fragment//Fusion begins with the instantly recognisable sample taken from Yazoo’s Don’t Go. A playful mood is set by the sample and an energetic voice shouting that the show must go on. A fast-paced 80s sound sets in. Haunting synth lines play atop compressed drum sounds. m a g g i e . w a v compliments the feelings of the sample perfectly with heavy-laden drum work and  a commanding bassline. The artist (and featuring artist jobert) crashes one sample into another as Shout by Tears for Fears begins to deep through the heavy, iron gates of percussion. Another solo strives to push through, and we end with a reprisal of Don’t Go.

① seeps in with slow moving strings and ethereal breaths of pads. A heavenly voice stretches, it’s digital innards spewing out as a trappy hi-hat plays lightly. Ever so gently, m a g g i e . w a v introduces a bass drum that shuts everything out when it hits, causing a heady, timid texture. The artist expertly weaves sounds around the main sample, careful not to disturb it too much. A roaring guitar shoots out of the mist like some golden seraphim. A voice appears, commentating on an experience of detachment from the outside world and himself. m a g g i e . w a v frames these things perfectly within the tracks of the album. There is a chaotic texture, but everything seems to hang so succinctly in its place like it’s been lifted into position with a microscope and some tweezers. Slowly the airy sounds fade away.

Phantasy Terminus tries to jog the listener from the cryogenic sleep the artist has forced them into. Energetic bell sounds scatter over the the stereo floor, an excited drumbeat transforms into relentless bass drum and powerful snare hits. m a g g i e . w a v wants to hit us as hard as possible in this last outing. There is no slowing down in the frantic energy of the song, a never ending wormhole of countless colours fly past us in succession. A breakdown only furthers the intensity, but it suddenly cuts. Fireworks and cheers can be heard, but the piercing sound of feedback swallows everything.

m a g g i e . w a v spins us mercilessly between being spectator and participant. At some point we are watching the sludgy TV of the 90s, and then a moment later, we are in it. The artist sets us hopelessly adrift in polygonic nothingness. The creative energy is truly overpowering in some sections. But that sense of power, energy and originality only serves as a testament to a fantastically constructed set of songs.

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