Words Mikaelie A. Evans.
Renowned Australian musician, Raul Sanchez, has created an enticing reputation throughout his career that has been lingering in the public eye since the ‘90s. From his early days of playing in various garage rock bands that included The Bugbears, Muffcake and the much loved Magic Dirt, the Melbourne based guitarist has also shared vocal, guitar and songwriting roles in most of the bands he has played with. Currently playing with the likes of Tex Perkins’ supergroup, The Ape, Sanchez is also a part of the line ups that make River of Snakes and Midnight Woolf. With these influential bands having distinctively various sounds, one could begin to wonder what his solo album might sound like… And in 2015 Sanchez produced those sounds on his own instrumental album to answer the thoughts of those wondering punters. Released via Wild Animals Records and titled Masks, Sanchez’s first solo output came together over several years. Comprised primarily with guitars, there were also drums weaved through the variety of other instruments and “whatever was lying around the house that would make a sound”.
A year on in 2016 and Sanchez has subtly disclosed another hidden treasure to fans via a kind of pseudonym, now known as Electric Magus. Also distributed through Wild Animals Records, Electric Magus has produced an intricate 5-track titled Olympus Mons. Making the release even more of a gem, there were only 31 copies of the collection pressed on cassette that were “dubbed LOUD for maximum enjoyment!” They are distributed carefully; caressing these limited cassettes to the safety of your opened palms are the individually made draw-string bags that Dan Williams of Wild Animals Records crafted with the visual aid of Sanchez himself. Sourcing various fabric designs, the guys thought that the authenticity of this touch would give the cassettes even more of a riveting touch. Well fuck, I couldn’t agree more! Even I want one now without having any idea as to where I would be able to listen to a cassette nowadays.
Channeling a completely different musical variety than what might be expected within Olympus Mons, the 5-track is an electronic masterpiece of experimental beats, guitars, tones, pedals, voice overs, rhythms and anything else that fits the groove. It’s so blatantly… different. Where did this creation come from? Was it really all drawn from a dream? During conversation with Sanchez regarding the 5-track, we spoke about how the album came to and its influencing to which he said: “I love science fiction movies. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut (laughter) and I’ve always had a fascination with outer space and the universe, and how we all ended up here and that kind of thing. I drew inspiration from all of those things but it’s funny how the whole thing came about. I’ve always liked electronic music to a certain point, although rock and garage is my main kind of outlet, but I recently kind of got hold of a keyboard and I’d hook that up to the computer, which I work on pro-tools, that just sparked the whole thing to come out because all of a sudden I wasn’t just limited to the guitar. I could do drum beats and all kinds of weird noises with the keyboard and stuff so that’s how the music side came about.”
“On top of that, for years, probably back to like the late ‘90s I recorded 4-tracks. Just in my time, and some of that had drum beats and things and I actually dubbed those into the computer. Chopped it up and used those beats and things in Electric Magus so it ended up being worked on for a very long time.”
So how long did it take to ensemble this? “Well, on and off, I’d say, I don’t know, probably like, 15 years.” Sanchez replies with a humble laugh. He then continues, “It wasn’t planned or anything like that, I’d do bits and then I’d forget about them, then I’d go back, revisit those tapes and then I’d dump it in the computer and chop it up, reuse it and add noises to it… So yeah, there is stuff on there that is many, many years old.”
For such an intrinsic collection that was pieced together in roughly a six month period, it was astounding to learn that Sanchez also mixed, mastered and finalised his pseudonym release completely on his own. Could we anticipate more from Electric Magus or is this it? “I think so. Yeah. I have already started doing other bits that will come out.”
Other than the self-titled track Electric Magus, the 5-track has such minimal dialogue… Would the follow up album potentially contain more lyrics? Sanchez replies, “I think so. It is something that I could probably work more towards to kind of do a bit more singing or something a bit more, but yeah, I would like to do that. I write poetry as well and I thought it would be nice for it to have some kind of narrative.”
Live shows are yet to be announced, although they are “percolating in my brain of how I could do it (live performances) but at the moment I am too kind of caught up and busy with other things but I could, there would be a way to do it, I just have to figure out how… It would probably be the thing where, I couldn’t play a track per se, but I could grab bits of tracks and emulate them or take them to another place, but it would be possible to replicate the songs.”
By this point you’re probably wondering what a Magus is and what Olympus Mons actually are, so prior to the next release (that is yet to be announced) it could be in your best interest to type it into Google, for it will probably shed some further insight into whatever the future may hold for Electric Magus.