Dutch electronic act Launchable Socks’ recent album creates a world where even life’s quietest moments seem like miracles in their own right. Quiet Magic is a testament to relaxation and self-discovery.
Fair warning, this article contains opinion and is marked as such.
For many, 2018 felt like a year of chaos and unpredictability. As a result, it’s only natural that many of the year’s most prolific electronic releases adhered to dark and often gloomy tones.
…But then there’s Quiet Magic, an electronic project that was released late last year.
This is an album that, by its nature, is designed to help you zone out. It’s a project full of the kind of ambient and wondrous music that could easily accompany a child’s first time exploring a world where everything is still new and worth discovering.
Without a single lyric, Quiet Magic manages to evoke a lot of emotion thanks to the deliberate sound choices of its composer, Launchable Socks. This Dutch electronic artist goes by Joost Kraaijenbrink in his everyday life, and he finds himself honing his sound and getting specific with his target audience on his most recent release.
For fans of ambient music and gentle-yet-cinematic soundtracks, there’s a hell of a lot to enjoy about this album. Unfortunately, in an age of shortened attention spans, Kraaijenbrink may have his work cut out for him in trying to deliver this project to a wide audience.
Quiet Magic lets the listener build their own world
There’s no text or supplementary context to Quiet Magic, as the album finds itself embracing its often uninterpretable and dream-like nature. While the track “Hello” opens the album in a way that displays vague parallels to the unveiling of the Macintosh in 1984, a majority of the project does not rely on the audience’s consciousness to evoke emotion.
Instead, Launchable Socks draws from his experience as a freelance composer to let the audience design their own world. I’m told he’s worked as the audio designer for everything from video games to corporate animations, and spent a year creating the soundtrack for Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube.
Whether intentionally or otherwise, these pursuits seem to have shaped Kraaijenbrink as an artist. This is evidenced by the album’s willingness to let the listener interpret the tracks in whatever way they find most appealing.
There are, however, a handful of recurring motifs on this album that help tie the tracklist together. Quiet sounds of animals chirping and various forest and nature sounds can be heard throughout the record. These additions help build a general atmosphere of almost fairytale-esque exploration.
For a toddler, even life’s most ordinary aspects can seem so wonderful and new that they become difficult to interpret as anything other than magic. With this in mind, the only requirement that Quiet Magic places upon the listener is that they explore their own imagination through the lens of their inner child.
This is proven by some of the project’s later offerings like “Magic Postcards,” which begins with childlike laughing. Additionally, even the album’s title and crib-like album art help generate the youthful sense of wonderment that dictates this project.
Layered melodies and simple repetition amount to a great album
Quiet Magic is the type of project that is almost guaranteed to take you on a journey, but you have to be willing to let it. In all earnesty, there have been times when the sheer length of the album has deterred me from revisiting it.
With 18 tracks, there are multiple occasions where it can be difficult to remember how a specific song in the tracklist sounds. Further, the few songs that have similar naming schemes and instrumental passages can somewhat blur together.
However, each time I replay even a single track, I find myself once again listening to most of the album. It truly is a project that builds momentum as it gets going, as it can take a few minutes to fully appreciate what Launchable Socks is trying to convey here.
If you allow yourself to experience the emotional longing and ‘conscious dreaming’ that the album attempts to evoke, you’ll be rewarded with several fantastic tracks.
To name just a few of these highlights, the songs “Sliding Down a Lightray,” “Tiny Friends,” and “Eu Tong Sen Street,” are particularly great. The latter of which even features a collaboration with legendary harmonica player, Tollak Ollestad.
These tracks are part of the larger sense of innocent exploration that Launchable Socks is so clearly intent on creating. While every track on here is deliberately relaxing, there’s still something hauntingly bittersweet about remembering the magic that came with seeing the world through fresh eyes for the first time.
Ultimately, Quiet Magic is a brilliant project, but it might not be for everyone. If you’re looking to escape the chaos of your everyday life in favour of a time when everything was quiet, simple, and seemingly magic, don’t hesitate to check out this album.