One of my favorite things about electronic music is how it’s constantly pushing the envelope of sonic possibilities. Even when a producer uses vintage synthesizers or retro beats, the creative spirit of the music often feels forward-looking, or boundary-pushing. Maybe it’s just our tendency as humans to equate electronic spectacles with futuristic vision, but you could also argue that every sci-fi movie soundtrack ever might tend to agree.
“Moonstone” is the first track off of Parlour Magic’s debut album, The Fluid Neon Origami Trick, and it sounds like it could be straight from a classic sci-fi movie. And that’s not a dig in any way—what I mean is that Luc Bokor-Smith (the artist behind Parlour Magic) deftly incorporates various musical elements and genres to conjure a sensation of futuristic marvel. There’s a vision behind the craft here that is evident from its first pulsing synths.
From the get-go, “Moonstone” feels at once ominous and exhilarating. One by one, Bokor-Smith draws in deep throbs and shimmering accents that gradually build atop one another to set the pace for the rest of the song to come. Nearly a full minute passes before the vocals enter to deliver an observation of generational marvel: “A thousand years from now / The sun is gonna set on the desert in the west / Underneath the sands / The wind is crying out like a memory from your past.” Here the temporal expression time is made tangible; we see that the song is framed within the context of time. “I’ll fall back into the rabbit hole,” Bokor-Smith sings plaintively. “The time’s right now if it’s really coming back / The Moonstone.”
“Moonstone” is at face level a song that rejects living in the past, but interestingly Bokor-Smith brings a sense of nostalgia to the music with his choice of synthesizers. From the Yamaha CS-80 to the Oberheim OBX-A, some of the most iconic synth sounds of electronic music in the 70s and 80s, Bokor-Smith introduces an intriguing contrast between past, present, and future. While lyrically the song understands the futility of past regrets, it uses vintage sounds to tell a story about the future. In many ways, that’s what makes “Moonstone”—and much of electronic music—so ethereal and captivating. Here, the competing forces of obsolescence and ambition are reconciled in the divine metaphor of the Moonstone.
Parlour Magic flexes his musical muscles on his debut album, demonstrating his perceptive artistic voice and mastery of genre. For a Brown University grad (he graduated with a BA in music in 2018), it’s really not a surprise. But it is a major arrival for the NYC-based artist, his incisive debut album The Fluid Neon Origami Trick a fusion of vintage synthpop and futuristic electronica.