The first Magnog demo cassette arrived in the kranky P.O. Box in the summer of 1995, three ninety minute cassettes inside an old leopard skin eyeglass case. Bassist Jeff Reilly told Willamette Week in January, 1997 that kranky "called us the day they got our tape and.. asked us if we wanted to put a record out. We were like, 'Yeah!' We thought we would have to do our record ourselves…" At the time the tapes arrived in Chicago the average age of the band's members was under twenty.
The original demos were recorded on four track tape deck. For their debut album, Magnog enlisted Andy Brown of Jessamine to engineer. Magnog was released on compact disc and LP (with eleven minutes extra of music on the vinyl) in March, 1996.
Magnog played out, recorded a single for the British Enraptured label and began preparing their second studio album. Live shows were highlighted by extended improvisations and instrument swamping.
While Magnog worked on recording their second album, they agreed to let kranky compile tracks from the three, ninety minute cassettes that originally got us so excited. The double CD, More Weather was released in late 1997.
David Fricke wrote in Rolling Stone that
"More Weather is indeed more from the band's bulging demo file, 144 minutes of searing diamond-guitar drama and nimble new math rhythms (soaked in blue-water reverb) going back to 1994 - although it'll feel like 2094 to you…".
The Sunday Times of London said on Janueay 18, 1998 that
"even its most murky lo-fi moments suggest blurred glimpses of heaven, through smudgy reverb and droning guitars."
Magnog broke up without finishing the recordings they had started as a projected second studio album. Eventually, we discovered that health problems for all three members made continuation of the band nearly impossible.
With all the bands and records that have come and gone in the last ten years, it is hard to accept that Magnog never really had a chance to fulfil their potential. After the debut album came out it was reviewed by Guitar Player, The New York Times and Rolling Stone , Magnog played the Vienna Jazz Festival and was chosen by Pearl Jam to open shows.
If the band hadn't imploded Magnog would be curating festivals and a lot of the bands getting praised to high heaven now would be footnotes. It wasn't to be, but there are still two great releases that give tantalizing glimpses of what could have been.
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