Dance-music maverick James Marlon Magas drops an all-star album

James Marlon Magas in a double exposure, singing into a raised microphone in overlaid right and left profiles
James Marlon Magas Credit: Maria Tzeka

Way back in 2013, Gossip Wolf mentioned that local electronic musician James Marlon Magas had gotten a shout-out on Twitter from actress and filmmaker Asia Argento, daughter of legendary Italian horror director Dario Argento. After that online meet-cute, they became friends and collaborators, and Magas created the music for her 2014 film Misunderstood. (Remember when Twitter was a place where good things happened every now and then? Whoops!) The following year Magas founded the Midwich Productions label, and in 2020 he quit his longtime job as a Reckless Records buyer to spend more time on his music. His outstanding new album, Confusion Is My Name, arrives via Midwich on Friday, October 21, and among its many delightful surprises is a cameo by Argento: he trades bars with the horror heir on the endearingly goofy rap track “Watch.” Other guests on the record include fellow dance-music mavericks Quintron and Miss Pussycat, French noise maître Electronicat, and string players Julie Pomerleau and Fred Lonberg-Holm, who add violin and cello to the album’s surprisingly soothing instrumental closer, “Kiss on the Cheek.” 

Magas spent nearly five years crafting Confusion Is My Name in his home studio.

The third and newest advance single from Confusion Is My Name

Skin Graft Records has been doing the monster mash for decades, bringing noise-rock heroes and comic-book creators together for releases whose combos of music and art make for some of the wildest abominations ever created. On Friday, October 21, the label will drop its 150th release, Sounds to Make You Shudder!, a compilation of awesomely horrifying artists whose cover features a vividly gonzo haunted-house painting by Rob Syers of Gumballhead the Cat fame. Among the musical contributors are UK band USA Nails, French duo Pili Coït, and David Yow of the Jesus Lizard collaborating with Saint Louis prog mutants Yowie. There’s plenty of local talent on display too, including art-rock weirdos Lovely Little Girls, chameleonic singer-songwriter Azita, glam-rock kingpin Bobby Conn, and brutal prog squad the Flying Luttenbachers. It’s available in several different formats and editions on the Skin Graft Bandcamp page (including one remaining copy that comes with original Syers artwork). USA Nails play the Empty Bottle on Tuesday, October 25; the Flying Luttenbachers perform at Liar’s Club on Sunday, October 23, and at the Burlington on Tuesday, October 25.

The 15 tracks on Sounds to Make You Shudder! are all new and exclusive to this compilation.

This weekend, Pilsen community center La Esquina (1942 S. Carpenter) hosts a two-day release party for the third volume of Mario “Liv It Up” Luna’s Beyond Heaven book series, which collects vintage house-music flyers. Luna will sign books for several hours beginning at 1 PM on Saturday, October 22, and Sunday, October 23, and on both days La Esquina will display his house memorabilia. At 6 PM on Saturday, Luna will participate in a roundtable discussion with Luis Gabriel Aguilera, who cofounded southwest-side DJ collective the Ultimate Party Crew with him in 1986, and Jesse de la Peña. DJ sets will follow at 8 PM.

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