San Francisco’s Magik*Magik Orchestra is a for-hire ensemble with a wide-ranging C.V. They’ve performed in concert with Jonny Greenwood and Death Cab For Cutie, recorded the scores for the films Looper and Kill The Messenger, and are currently serving as the in-house orchestra for John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone Studios. Yet even outside of her work with Magik*Magik, founder Minna Choi is an accomplished composer in her own right, and this fall she’s releasing a new solo album of original synth-pop material.
Her first release from that project is “Laugh a Lot,” a shades-drawn duet with How To Dress Well’s Tom Krell. Supple and somber, the song resembles a Lana Del Rey ballad, but delivered with a wounded resignation rather than cold detachment. Choi laments the repeated blows she’s taken from the ambiguity of what feels valuable, but isn’t treated as such, with Krell’s ached crooning and an affecting violin performance from Bon Iver’s Rob Moose heightening further the dramatic swell of Choi’s blunted composure. “Fool me, save me/ Make it stop,” she pleads by the end, the sense of yearning failing to subside even as the track fades to a close. Below, watch a video for the track directed by VJ Youngshin.