Video Premiere: Roto's Magic Act, "Howling at the Moon"

Today we're pleased to bring you the video premiere of "Howling at the Moon," by Roto's Magic Act. Led by singer-songwriter (and ex-Air and Mr. Bungle member) James Rotondi, Roto's Magic Act explore the darker side of the human experience on this intense, acoustic-driven cut from the album Into the Unknown.

Check out the video below:

More about Roto's Magic Act

Brooklyn singer-songwriter James Rotondi, aka ROTO, former vocalist and multi-instrumentalist for French superstars Air and Mike Patton’s Mr. Bungle, and guitarist for Reggie Watts’ and Michael Shrieve’s Trilon project, will release his second solo album, Into the Unknown, on May 13, on Volumnia Recordings. His band, Roto’s Magic Act, kicks off the album’s campaign at SXSW 2014 with an appearance at the Rachael Ray Feedback House, alongside Band of Skulls and G. Love, on Thursday, May 13, at 10PM.

Into the Unknown echoes Roto’s diverse influences, from Gram Parsons-style country rock to Jellyfish-approved power-pop to grand Pink Floyd-inspired opuses, with a focus on classic song-craft, and an artful production by veteran producer Bryce Goggin (Spacehog, Joseph Arthur). The record pays homage to the “continuous sound journey” aesthetic of 70s concept albums—with embedded sound effects and spectral voices between songs—but without all the prog-rock self-seriousness. No wonder the NY Observer praised it as “catchy, slick (in a good way, intelligent and coherent,” honoring the tradition of “the album as a Complete Work—not just a collection of audio files.”

As for the magic in Magic Act, “I’ve always loved theatricality and a whiff of the occult in rock music,” Roto explains, citing bands from The Doors to Nick Cave to Opeth as prime examples, “but my own take would be to add a bit more playfuness to that mix.” Indeed, as The Wall Street Journal’s Ashley Khan put it, Roto boasts “a biting wit worthy of Warren Zevon or Ray Davies,” a sensibility that drives tunes like the Kinks-esque “Happier Than Ever” and the Elvis Costello-tinged “Hot News,” a tawdry tale inspired by the media’s fascination with political sex scandals.

While the heart-on-his-sleeve poignancy of the title track shows that the Magic Act is more than just smoke and mirrors, it wouldn’t be a “magic act” without live magic. Roto obliges onstage, making objects appear and disappear, and producing bolts of flame from his bare hands. “Music and magic are natural together,” says Roto, “but the idea of the musician as magician is a mystery that will be a lot of fun to unravel!”

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Guitar World Staff

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