ceo - White Magic

Album cover
ceo
White Magic
ceo - White Magic Review rating:
4
User rating:
Average: 3.6 (5 votes)

Yes, I admit it.  I only know ceo through Pitchfork.com's Best New Music feature, like most other people who have heard White Magic.  Granted, some listeners may have found the album because of Eric Berglund's other project, the Swedish electronic duo The Tough Alliance.  Also given a high score by Pitchfork, among various other webzines, The Tough Alliance have released three albums since 2005.  But not one of them is the piece of art that White Magic is.

It begins with a low rumble, like distant ominous thunder.  Gradually, a synthesizer enters, reflecting some sort of civilization, and when the tension is just right, "All Around" introduces a lone cello.  Before long, a random rainforest wail joins in, and as the sounds pile on top of each other, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary album.  Berglund's soaring tenor adds a third element to the mixture of natural and technological sounds, somehow loitering in between the two.  It is a tasty mixture.

And when the drums for "Illuminata" begin, the pop side of ceo presents itself.  Confident and catchy, the song lies somewhere between world music, indie pop, and alternative dance.  Whatever genre label you smack it with, it is a memorable track.  As is "No Mercy," which features middle-eastern melodies and the menacing sounds of a sword being unsheathed.  The chorus, however, would not be out of place in a mainstream pop song.  If they only had the guts to release something like this.

By the time I finish naming the album's highlights - "Come With Me" (a fan favorite, with samples of children and men talking over a gentle beat), "Oh God, Oh Dear" (which begins atmospherically and develops into a White Album-style symphonic pop piece), and the tribal title track - there isn't much left on White Magic.  Clocking in at a mere 28 minutes and 8 tracks (31 minutes if you count the iTunes bonus track, the only unexceptional recording ceo has released), the album leaves much to be desired.  Namely, more songs.

While White Magic may take a few spins to truly appreciate, even for music connoisieurs with very diverse taste, once the album clicks it is nearly irresistible.  Even the closing song, the Swedish Christian hymn "Den Blomstertid Nu Kommer," features an enchanting organ that bestows it with the air of a funeral dirge.  Though I sincerely hope that it is not an ending so much as a solemn beginning to a discography that could potentially feature one of the best albums of the coming decade.  Because while White Magic is a beautiful debut, Berglund seems to have something even more expansive hidden deep within his brain.

1. All Around
2. Illuminata
3. Love and Do What You Will
4. White Magic
5. Oh God, Oh Dear
6. No Mercy
7. Come with Me
8. Den Blomstertid Nu Kommer

There are, at least, two artists known as CEO.

1. A pseudonym of Eric Berglund (of The Tough Alliance). Co-founder and owner of Sincerely Yours records based in Göteborg, Sweden.“Come With Me” is the first single from the forthcoming ceo album, White Magic, which comes out late June on Modular.

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