On initial listen to Magic Trix, the first album by Brooklynite Xenia Rubinos, one might feel as though one is being tased (bro). Little compares to the sharp, thick spine of keyboard sound that shoots out from the very first moments. An oblique assemblage of uncommon rhythms, forceful singing and dance-’til-you-puke styles combine to make Magic Trix one of the most exciting debuts in years.
Surprisingly, the record’s aggressive sound is achieved without the use of guitars. Rubinos, with the assistance of drummer / sound magician Marco Buccelli, creates a dozen songs that bring to mind the adventurous spirit and whacked-out mentality found in the best moments of Rip, Rig and Panic, DNA and The Contortions. Rubinos expands on her Cuban, Puerto Rican and American roots, and while the songs shoot off to new stratospheres, they never lose the sense that the music is at its core two people banging on things, making a racket. It was such a racket that their home production of the album was often interrupted by paintings falling from the walls of their apartment as they recorded.
Rubinos and Buccelli can also fully replicate the record live, thanks in part to the latter’s makeshift “analogic distorted snare.” In order to alter his snare sound, he circuits the drum through an array of reverb and distortion pedals, projecting the sound through an amp at his side.
Rubinos’s songs cover intimate topics of family and travel. “Help” is based on a family legend of a woman flown to the states from Puerto Rico in order to heal a dying man with her powers. She brought over her six sons and lived under a bridge until she was able to afford a roof. “Los Mangopaunos” is a fantasy about the origin of the mice with whom Rubinos shared her Gowanus apartment; it chronicles their independent tribal lives and their lineage from Marvin the Martian. Meanwhile, “Cafe Con Leche” and “Aurora De Mayo” are original takes on traditional songs that Rubinos learned in her childhood.
Magic Trix takes all its diverse origins and combines them into an aggressively danceable dozen tunes. Ponder it. Shake your booty to it. However you hear it, Rubinos’s songs will get things moving.