Magic Dragon – “Emotional Landscape” (1981)

I listened to this the other day and thought to myself, “this is some weird early 80s Canadian synth stuff. I don’t want to write about this.”

It took me about eight hours to then realize, “duh, that’s exactly why I should write about this.”

Who are Magic Dragon? I don’t really know. The Royal BC Museum dedicates a web page to this record, but they only thing they tell us is “This was the only release from this Vancouver synthesizer band.” That and they get the speed wrong. Unless it’s in metric or something. Is 33 1/3 rpm actually 45 rpm in metric? I don’t know.

The first song, “Objet du Desire,” sounds like a proto-Vasalines song. And things get weirder from there. The disconnected male and female vocals on side A give it a certain quaintness, though the trippy synths put it firmly in its release year of 1981. In fact the three songs on side A sound like they could just as well come from 1971, the end of the hippy era after it all sort of fell apart and got taken over by arena rock. The side closes with the downer of “Egyptian Radio” about some guy named Johnny who The Man is trying to keep down.

The B side is where the magic happens. “Once Upon a Time” is oddly intensive and leads into the bizarre, ahead-of-it’s-time “(White Monkey) Under the Volcano,” a gloomy seven minutes of mouthing but gothicness and sampling. Sort of smooth industrial, if that was a thing. Moog it up!

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