Computer Magic is a space oddity. There’s always been something otherworldly or science fiction about the music of Danielle “Danz” Johnson — and maybe it’s because the Brooklyn artist’s sound is so distinctively her own. Yes, there are familiar touchstones throughout all her music, just like you’d have with any other artist — but it’s the way she takes those genres, deconstructs them and re-orders them into Danz-world galactic gems. Listening to her music is like co-piloting a weird rocket-ship ride that takes you out of the stratosphere and toward whatever her destination is. Jump on board and be transported to some tripped-out, kaleidoscopic 70s cartoon reality that morphs the digital and the futuristic with design, dance and outer space — ending in a kind of shimmering oddity that’s always uplifting.
It’s no wonder she’s found a big fan base in Japan, where modernity and musical acumen are highly appreciated. “The End of Time” (2011) opens like a mix between the music at a merry-go-round and a fourth-dimension Jan Hammer ‘Miami Vice’ intro, and even inspired a video where Danz walks in a daze around New York wearing an astronaut’s space suit. Or take last year’s “It Makes No Difference to Me” with it’s beautiful spacey, Asiatic disco-groove. There are some precedents: Artists like Sun Ra, Bjork, and the George Clinton-led Parliament and Funkadelic in the 70s turn music into their own tiny cosmoses too. That’s wonderful company to keep.
In a way, it’s easy to feel like you get to know Computer Magic simply by listening to the music and taking the ride with her. You can spot her love for 80s rhythms and styles in a song like “Grand Junction”. There’s a kind of soulful appreciation for melody in “Everyone Feels That Way Sometimes”, a song with lovely lush textures of synth and vocals. It’s light as air and sugary as cotton candy. There’s the child adventurer in “Running”. Her music is positively infectious, and makes her fans want to get to know her more through every new song. Now she’s released a cool single, “Shipwrecking”, from off a six-track EP, Dreams of Better Days, that she says is “a bunch of one-offs” she’s been releasing for fun. Is there any better reason? Follow Computer Magic at facebook and twitter. — David D. Robbins Jr.