In Focus: Maribou State

Maribou State have been drifting around the scene for a couple of years now, slowly amassing a loyal and loving audience across the globe. If you’ve not been acquainted then one, where have you been?, and two, you’re seriously in for a treat. The creation of their sound has been a culmination of several years’ refinement and exudes an intricate, glowing warmth that is helplessly addictive. Liam Ivory and Chris Davids emerged from humble beginnings as a band in the late 2000s, following a pretty horrendous gig at Glastonbury in 2010 (a singer with sunstroke, a broken generator half-way through the gig, and owners of the tent tripping balls on acid, can’t have been good). Despite this the two have matured into an outfit that is evidently at the forefront of British EDM (yeah I use that acronym, deal with it) – and are only just getting started.

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Maribou State

2012 was a big year for Maribou State with releases on Southern Fried Records (big boys who boast an impressive roster of artists, set up in 1994 by go-to man Fatboy Slim) as well as debut appearances at Cable (London) andat XOYO for Chew The Fat! vs Well Rounded. Not just skilled with creating their own original work the pair also sustain a busy schedule of remixes and collaborations, turning to gold anything they can get their hands on. The video at the top is a track they produced with Pedestrian, signed to the young and fresh Push & Run imprint based in London. It’s fairly obvious that their musical paths cross a great deal, with their uniformly unorthodox approach to creating dance music, sitting comfortably between the domain of the club and that of the bedroom. Mask bears the signature Maribou-sound; intricate, full-bodied percussion featuring in particular group claps, shakers, and carefully crafted hats, as well as catchy rhythmic vocal motifs and warm synthetic textures. It’s been well documented that the pair litter their tracks with sweet and artfully delicate vocals, and these have become somewhat of a hall-mark in their productions. The track below is the Maribou State remix of Reasons by Saint Saviour (vocalist for Groove Armada) and is distinctly deep and progressive in its architecture – subdued kick, accented snare/clap and a bouncing analogue bass-line underneath holding it all together; personally I feel the remix is better than the original, which can be heard here. Incidentally,Saint Saviour’s debut album Union (released June 2011) has a few nice tracks on it, there’s something about the album that feels a bit dated (maybe it’s the 80-90s style vocals and the way they’ve been treated, or the classic band arrangement and the song writing, I’m not sure) but nonetheless check it out if you have a spare moment. Highlights of the album include Tightrope, suitable for chilled listening on a Sunday afternoon, as well as I Call This Home which is something more powerful and uplifting.

Another remix done by Maribou State that’s been doing the rounds over the past few months is their take on Ultraista‘s Gold Dayzz. The track has racked up hundreds of thousands of views across the internet (220k on their Soundcloud alone) and deserves special mention here; memorable, anthemic, vocals really help unify the tone to this track, the “Bear with me” refrain invoking a sub-text pathos which supports the track’s yearning. And yes, the devil is in the details – the sonic space which is created upon the track’s awakening is only made possible and convincing by the subtle electronic effects, timbral percussion, static and vinyl noise, and momentary silences. The song wouldn’t be out of place toward the end of a set, with its insistent picked harmonics and descending bass-line; the chord progression and universal mood somewhat resolute and hopeful. This beauty is available for free download on the Soundcloud page so go get it now. For a bit of mellow heartache both their remixes of Kastle‘s Can’t Explainand Lana Del Ray‘s Blue Jeans (signed to Polydor) are great tracks with a deep-house flavour to them, make sure you check them out.

The ‘Maribou-sound’ was first intended for bedroom listening and quite rightly so – their music is dreamy and ambient, lilting pensively through the Summer haze, perhaps a natural progression from the sudden and enigmatically fleeting Future-Garage movement, but over the last year or two the duo have realised the potential scope of their sound, and the transition from home-listening to the dance-floor has been fairly effortless. The style of production is very reminiscent of other similar sound-world luminaries such as BonoboFourtet, and early Phaeleh. The music is very danceable, but the 4×4 is never over-powering or a particularly dominating feature; the focus is heavily on texture and melody and the ‘listening’ aspect of this music really allows for versatility and movement through different sound-worlds. When further describing Maribou State’s music, what immediately comes to mind is passiveness, contemplation, observation. Yet releases such as Empire (Untrue Records, June 2011) and the dark, bassy, in-your-face Glasshouse push further, both remixes that are more than club-worthy and show that the duo are definitely capable of a bit of grit and attitude. Additionally The Look (from the Native EP, on Southern Fried Records - 2012) invites the head-nod and unfolds in a typically Dusky-Disclosure fashion. Other tracks present laid-back jazz influenced offerings and listening through start to finish is very satisfying. Listen to the Natives EP at the bottom of this article along with a couple other gems. Just below is another dance track off of the Scarlett Groove EP, mixed up and a bit more experimental:

Official releases from the pair are only a handful but despite this, what’s important is that they’re both consistent and inspired. It’s obvious in their music that their influences span widely but their unique sound is instantly identifiable. Maribou State are showing no signs of slowing, following their release of the Scarlett Groove EP back in November last year (of which the title track made it to Pete Tong‘s Essential New Tune the following month), although I have to admit I prefer both Pagoda and Summerfolds, which also feature on the same release. Indeed, the EP is most suitably titled and neatly describes the sound of the EP as a whole. Additionally, a debut appearance warming up at the infamous Room 2 in Fabric last month (March 19th) further concretes their rise and recognition within the scene. A new live set and a string of forthcoming releases including a full album in 2013 sets the stage for the UK duo, let’s hope they can keep up the pace.

Stream the Native EP here. Below is also the Volume 1 Honey Collections mix which I’ve had on repeat recently, a really nice little mix that you can download for free (it also features a Tuesday Born track that I mentioned here; and lastly the remix of Alpine’s Empire.

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