The Magic Circle. On The Beatles, Pop Art, Art-Rock and Records.
Charting a pathway of historical analysis and speculative association outward from The Beatles’ "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," "The Magic Circle" is a meditation on the form of the concept album as a point of convergence between the worlds of rock and art, as well as an experiment in conflating the critical methodologies appropriate to either side.
Our experience of music is immersive and immediate, but what is the proper tense of a music that exists only on record, and consciously attends to the sense of history implied by that term? The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP is released in 1967, once the band decides to stop touring. This limit-condition is crucial to the emergence of the concept album, and more generally of art-rock. Sgt. Pepper is taken as an anchor point for this writing, which maps the passage of the album form into a self-reflective aesthetic object, but one that remains an openly commercial product. The Beatles' brass avatars on Sgt. Pepper address their contemporary moment through figures drawn from the past, and this is also applied as a rule in the writing of The Magic Circle. The present tense of this book is one that is inundated with documents and artefacts of all kinds, as well as seemingly limitless capacity for a memory-storage. From our current perspective, we can see The Beatles delivering an anticipatory glimpse of the world that we must alll now share with an ever-expanding legion of ghosts.
The Magic Circle is written and edited by Los Angeles art writer Jan Tumlir.