Mark Leckey presents the soundtrack to his autobiographical allegory ‘O’ Magic Power of Bleakness’, a mind sluicing fantasy inspired by folklore and half-remembered tales of teenage life growing up in the Wirral, a personal history woven into screwed 808s, ringtones, sacred chimes, smudged synths and levitating ambience that sounds like nowt else.
Following his seminal, hauntological trips ‘Fiorucci Made me Hardcore’ (2012) and ‘Dream English Kid 1964 - 1999AD’ (2016); the 3-part accompaniment to ‘O' Magic Power Of Bleakness’ captures the Turner Prize-winning artist moving beyond signature collage tekkers to create an entirely original arrangement for his latest audio-visual installation at Tate Britain in 2019 - a life-size replica of a motorway bridge on the M53 on the Wirral, Merseyside. In situ, the soundtrack is a vital component of the installation, livicating its liminal space with a narrative arc that magically turns familiar, popular and folkwise tropes into an occultural tale about provenance and a reminder of the supernatural in the modern world.
Leckey approaches the piece as "an autobiographical allegory” in an attempt to locate the enduring enigma of sub/urban British life with uncanny insight. Alongside his own narration, a plethora of Scouse-kids play out the story of an aspirational kid who escapes the Wirral not to London, but to the faerie realm spoken of in Northern European folklore. When he crashes down to earth, his friends don't understand who, or what, he's become. It ultimately concludes in a symphonic supernatural riot, culminating a sort of metaphysical transformation common to Traditional Ballads and reminding us of the angel/redemption sequence at the end of Lynch’s ‘Fire Walk With Me’.
'O' Magic Power Of Bleakness’ is a well-worn story that's brutally familiar to anyone who's escaped the clutches of one of Britain's forgotten, Tory-scoured battlefields. But Leckey's treatment is transformative; he offsets observed reality with the surreal verve of folklore like a theme park ride thru a Britain the country prefers not to remember, decorated with themes that have been looped around our collective consciousness for thousands of years. Leckey’s art has essentially come to reflect the psyche of a generation, divining the poetic and occult from the seeming banality of British life by tapping into leylines that riddle the concrete landscape to the imagination. Specifically (if allegorically) it’s Leckey’s life in focus but, on the broadest level, the work speaks to the politics of big town parochiality vs. the elusive lure of big city glitter, in a way that’s bound to resonate with many listeners who’ve made that same transition and questioned their place in-between worlds in the process.