Who were Piano Magic?
Piano Magic were a recording group, based in London from 1996 – 2016. Their original recording line-up was Glen Johnson (sound), Dick Rance (guitar) and Dominic Chennell (sound). At their first concert, in December 1996, they were augmented by Paul Tornbohm on drums/percussion.
Though they incurred many line-up changes, at their culmination in December 2016, there were 5 full-time members : Glen Johnson, Jerome Tcherneyan, Alasdair Steer, Franck Alba and Paul Tornbohm. Angèle David-Guilllou was also a central figure of the band from 2001 to 2013.
Johnson, Steer and Tornbohm are English. Tcherneyan, Alba and David-Guillou are French.
How/when did the group start up?
Piano Magic began in 1996 and was originally intended to be a studio-based project much in the mould of This Mortal Coil, with special guests invited to sing and play on music initiated by the nucleus of the three core members. It was never the intention for Piano Magic to play live though when they did, their very early shows rarely featured music from their records.
In the Summer of 1996, Glen Johnson sent a demo of home recordings to i/Che Records (home to one of his favourite bands, Disco Inferno), which resulted in the release of the group’s first record, ‘Wrong French.’ Since then, the line-up of the group metamorphosised regularly, settling down to a more definite “group” around 2005.
Piano Magic released many records on many different labels, recorded a film soundtrack for the Spanish director, Bigas Luna and played concerts in the UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Russia, Poland and Ukraine. In particular, the band regularly toured Spain and Italy.
Who have Piano Magic collaborated with?
In the past, Piano Magic have collaborated with, amongst others : John Grant, Peter Walsh of The Apartments, Brendan Perry and Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance, Alan Sparhawk of Low, Vashti Bunyan, ISAN, Pete Astor, Simon Rivers of The Bitter Springs, Darren Hayman, Ben Ayres of Cornershop, Charlotte Marionneau of Le Volume Courbe, Robert Johnston of Life Without Buildings and Tarwater.
Who were Piano Magic influenced by?
Dead Can Dance, Joy Division, New Order, Disco Inferno, Felt, The Durutti Column, This Mortal Coil, The Cure, Cocteau Twins, Xymox, Dif Juz to name a few.
Which label were Piano Magic signed to?
Though they released a host of records on a wide variety of (exclusively) independent labels, Piano Magic’s final records were released through Second Language, a London-based label founded and co-run by Glen Johnson. http://www.secondlanguagemusic.com
Weren’t the band once signed to 4AD?
Yes. The band recorded two records for 4AD – the soundtrack to Spanish director, Bigas Luna’s ‘Son De Mar’ and the ‘Writers Without Homes’ album. The group and label parted ways in mutual agreement in 2003.
I’ve never heard Piano Magic. Which record should I start with?
A good place to start would be the 2 CD compilation, ‘Heart Machinery (A Piano Magic Retrospective 2001 – 2008)’ : http://secondlanguagemusic.com/SL021.html
More specifically, arguably the band’s most instantly accessible records are their most recent : ‘Closure,’ ‘Ovations,’ ‘Part Monster,’ ‘Life Has Not Finished WIth Me Yet’ and ‘Disaffected.’ Though if you like electronic music, you should probably try the ‘Opencast Heart EP’ or their debut album, ‘Popular Mechanics.’ If you prefer more melancholy guitar-based music, you should try the albums, ‘The Troubled Sleep Of Piano Magic’ or ‘Artists’ Rifles.’ The band’s more “experimental” fare can be found on the albums, ‘Low Birth Weight’ and ‘Writers Without Homes.’
Where can I listen to Piano Magic?
You should be able to buy the more recent Piano Magic physical titles in all good record stores. Otherwise, try a reputable mail order outlet like Norman Records (UK) : www.normanrecords.com or Darla (US) : www.darla.com
Several more recent titles can be bought directly from the Second Language website – ‘Heart Machinery (A Piano Magic Retrospective 2001 – 2008)’, ‘Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet’ and ‘Closure.’ http://secondlanguagemusic.com/
The vast majority of Piano Magic’s music can also be found on Spotify, iTunes and all other digital platforms.
For a full list of Piano Magic recordings, visit https://www.discogs.com/artist/65228-Piano-Magic
What’s the rarest Piano Magic record?
That would be a limited edition 12″ acetate of the ‘Dark Horses’ which was auctioned on Ebay in October 2008. Only one copy was ever made and it was sold for £470 to a French fan.
Why did Piano Magic split up?
There has been no formal declaration of the reason behind the band’s termination though Glen Johnson has said that 20 years seemed “a good, tidy point” at which to finish the band. Their last concert was at The Lexington, London, in December 2016 – the exact 20th anniversary of the band’s first ever concert at The Wag Club in Soho, London.
Where can I write to Piano Magic?
Do members of Piano Magic make music elsewhere?
Yes. Glen Johnson has released a solo album, ‘Details Not Recorded’ (Make Mine Music, 2009), a 5 track cassette, ‘Institutionalized EP’ (Secret Furry Hole, 2009) and a postcard EP, ‘Same Sex’ (Hibernate, 2014). In 2015, he collaborated with the visual artist, Kristina Pulejkova, on the album, ‘My Heart Has Run Out Of Breath’ (Second Language, 2015).
Johnson’s solo electronica project, Textile Ranch, has released two albums, ‘Bird Heart In Wool’ (Very Friendly, 2004), ‘Tombola’ (Second Language, 2009′) and a handful of singles.
Johnson and Cedric Pin have an electropop project called Future Conditional and released their debut album, ‘We Don’t Just Disappear’ in 2007 (LTM).
Franck Alba plays in various guises, including with Fireflies, The Low Road and the acclaimed DJ/producer/artist, Andrew Weatherall.
Jerome Tcherneyan currently records and plays as Years Of Denial.
Angèle David-Guillou currently composes under her own name, though has also recorded as Klima and as part of the French group, Ginger Ale. Angèle now records for the Village Green label : http://villagegreenrecordings.co.uk/
Where do I find out more about Piano Magic?
News about Piano Magic is regularly added to their Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/PianoMagic/
The band also have a Twitter page : https://twitter.com/panicamigo