In eight years Magic Bus have produced only three albums. They certainly take their time and just like previous outings, the new “Phillip the Egg” feels unhurried and relaxed. And truly comfortable with itself.
Imagine that Caravan had decided to move to California after their 1969 debut and ended up in some small secluded place just north of San Francisco. Cut off from what was happening back home, they would then take their unique Canterbury vibe in a subtly West Coast direction.
Magic Bus of course never did that, but instead they have wrapped themselves in an English countryside time bubble all of their own. This is retrogressive rock, but when it is this good and unassuming, one can only have praise.
Although the instrumentation is primarily electric, the sound is strikingly organic. Unfortunately. the simple reason may be hard rehearsal practice to make up for lack of funds to spend more than nine days in the recording studio. But the result is nevertheless the sound of a real band playing, not a studio spinning on empty.
Tempos shift but not in a muscular way. Although individual instruments beg you for attention – organ, mellotron, flute, guitars that play solos, and drums that play melody in that old Canterbury way – the focus here is clearly on the whole rather than the individual.
Magic Bus very much feel like a hippie collective and they play magical, mystical music. The album unashamedly starts out with the rather epic “Mystical Mountain” and there is even a subsection name to the track title, “(i) Twelve Kings”.
But don’t worry, this stuff does not get lost in pretentious crap. These guys know what they want and how to get there. Their music will put you in sync with the universe. That is, if you just have the courage to let it.