A magpie, we are told, will steal anything that attracts its eye, and take it back to adorn its nest. Imaginary Tricks do that too, collecting and assembling components in ways that no one would anticipate, to create something beautiful. Their new album Skommel is a delightful pick’n’mix of influences and noises, which constantly remind the listener of other artists, and also combine to create something unique and rather wonderful.
Imaginary Tricks is the trading name of Mike Visser, who’s tree is evidently so laden with treasure that he can just shake it and make a great album with what drops out. Visser is not stealing samples or cut and pasting. He has used the flavours of things but not the things themselves. These songs are beautiful, shiny assemblages of the half-remembered.
Skommel (the Afrikaans word for Shake) seems to be unabashed about its influences. Or perhaps unaware – I suppose I might be spotting things that aren’t there – but it’s difficult to listen to the opening song Mr. Big Idea, for instance, without hearing the echoes of Talking heads, Tom Vek and Paul Simon. You can play spot-the-hook with the whole album (Lights Out is a Metallica riff blended with Beach Boy harmonies, Night Owl is Radiohead sung by Mika, etc) but it’s unnecessary because Skommel is a glittering, surprising treat in its own right.
It all adds up to a varied, shimmering trove: brass buttons, silver bullets, precious jewels and glass beads. I loved this album.
Skommel is out today on Friendship Fever.