Every morning, as usual, I start my computer and launch my most frequented Apps for the day. Spotify’s home page opened with their suggested album banner on the main page. Maybe it was the shade of Purist Blue on the album artwork that caught my attention, or the catchy album title, or maybe I was just having one of those days where I felt like trying something new – either way, it trapped me. I never click on Spotify’s suggested albums – I’m not sure why, maybe they usually aren’t my taste, but this time I clicked.
This is the first album I’ve listened to by Maribou State, and honestly, the first time I had heard of the band – I imagine because I’m from the States and they are from the UK, but I’m so glad their creations have flown into my ear holes. I can confidently say that their album, Kingdoms In Colour, is the best musical experience I have gained in the year of 2018.
With a release date of September 7, 2018 it didn’t take long for me to keep this album on repeat. This album is an adventure. An intricate reminder of how it feels to hear a song for the first time, knowing that I’m about to really enjoy it – hearing a new obsession, “uh oh”. Getting a first crush.
Musicians Chris Davids and Liam Ivory birthed the creation of this album providing us with a wild combination of worldly-culture vibes and collaborations that were meant-to-be. The musicians created a product that is atmospheric and time traveling in a way, with influences from (what I guess to be) Asia (Beginner’s Luck), the 90s’ and Africa (Kingdom) surfy and futuristic (Turnmills) and modern day. These are my own interpretations from the tracks, and everyone will feel differently, but that’s what is so great about the experience. I wouldn’t describe this album as traditional “instrumental”, but the album is light on the lyrics and strong on the feels. The worldly feel of Kingdoms In Colour give the sounds some instant history and almost predates it, while the electronic futurist vibes modernize the sounds.
I feel like I’m in a mega music video while this album plays. One moment I see myself in a Tron-like environment running quickly in an action-packed scene, then I am in the Sahara Desert riding camel-back and surrounded by lovely exotic smells, and then I’m on a life-changing journey as a young adult in Asia somewhere finding my life’s purpose. My brain is ridiculous, I know. But I guess that is what’s so great about music. It really can transport you like nothing else.
I guess my brain isn’t so ridiculous. After writing the previous paragraphs and researching into the inspiration behind the album, Spotify told me that “After more than a year of touring they returned to the UK to begin work on new material but relocating their studio from The Shack - their home-built studio at the back of Liam’s garden in Hertfordshire - to a new base in London found them struggling to find their creative flow. The solution was to start looking outward and back over their journey of the past two years. They began making regular excursions out of the city, setting up a temporary studio space for weeks at a time, they started to piece together a “sonic collage” - drawing on ideas that were written while touring in places like India, and on field recordings from Asia, Australia, Morocco, America and beyond - the result of which is the stunning “Kingdoms In Colour”. (*Spotify’s bio on Maribou State)
Although the band’s genre reads as Dance/Electronic, this entire album makes me want to do the opposite of what that genre typically makes me feel, instead I want to stay home and do some major soul-searching. Maribou State no doubt uses electronic instruments (who doesn’t nowadays), but these creations are not like others within the same realm, in my opinion. These tracks are symphonic. I feel like a hypocrite, I have always said I don’t like electronic music. Even the comment I just made makes me sound like I’m placing genres in a general hierarchy and that’s not fair of me. Electronic music, I owe you an apology!
This album will yank you from a dark spot emotionally and hoist you into a sunshine-y smiley memory and then back into depressing moments that were smashed deep down inside of you. That could just be me. I’m a bit dramatic when I find something that has moved my core. I’m also picky about which albums I give my love to. Kingdoms In Colour deserved all of my love. It’s been on repeat in my house since I discovered its glory – and currently as I write this review.
This is the kind of music that naturally blends in with your life and you might stop noticing it in the background, kind of like how we all secretly wish we had music following us around in our daily life as it narrates scenes for us emotionally. I had to keep restarting songs because I would get sucked in and just glaze over until I bounced back from thinking about my past.
These songs are dangerously catchy. They all sound good on their own – all of them. Just give them time to sink in. They are thick in context, so they need to be examined in tiny bites. Or a few sweeps of the entire album would be enough to show you what the creators, Chris Davids and Liam Ivory, are sharing.
I’m just one angsty-forever emo kid. Let me tell you what I found out about the creators of this album.
I enjoy albums that will stick to my bones for a while. When I like something, I want to know everything about it. I will Google it, investigate who was behind it, what was their reason, what their history was and what projects are happening now. My recent endeavor for getting to know the album better was finding the music video for their song Nervous Tics (Feat. Holly Walker) through Maribou State’s Facebook page. After listening to this track through Spotify, I thought I knew this song. But after watching the official video and having them guide me through visuals, I’m looking at this track I a different way. Then I watched the BBC Radio 6 Music Live Room video. See what I mean? I like something, I binge it, then I move on to the next thing by the creators.
This Holly Walker who is featured on Nervous Tics can also be found on some of Maribou State’s other tracks from Kingdoms In Colour like Slow Heat. London singer, Walker, is that perfect crisp and sultry seasoning that balances out this album. A feminine touch is essential when writing about worldly experiences and I may be biased on this, but women balance everything out nicely. Find Holly Walker on this album as well as their previous album, Portraits.
Walker may have the most obvious collaboration on this album, but Khruangbin also plays a big part behind the scenes. The American musicians Laura Lee, Mark Speer and Donald Johnson have a reputation for blending global influences, dub, psychedelia and classic soul. “The record features new single ‘Feel Good’ - a collaboration born of their friendship with Houston-based trio Khruangbin and a shared love of breakbeats, vintage surf riffs and a common desire to explore worldwide music cultures. “Sometimes a chance meeting plants the seed for something bigger,” says Khruangbin.” (*Spotify’s bio on Maribou State)
With the release of their new album comes a UK tour for the 5-piece band. European festivals are in the works where they will headline various shows, giving the audience and experience like no other. As I said before, I’m in the States and they are from the UK, so naturally they aren’t planning on playing anywhere near me, but their tour list is impressive! Glasgow, Liverpool, Brussels.. places where all the cool kids are.
For kicks, I went to their Ticketmaster link and pretended like I was purchasing a ticket to see them in Copenhagen. The total for one ticket was 200,00 DKK (Danish Krone) – that sounds like a lot! My first thought was, “oh jeez, who am I writing about?! These people are way too popular for my silly review”. I Googled it - $31.51 US Dollars. A lot less intimidating of a price than I thought, but the perfect cost for a band I would want to see. If I had the opportunity to see them in North America, I would jump on it immediately knowing I was guaranteeing myself one of the best live music experiences I could offer myself.
Included in my personal research of these musicians, involved skimming over reviews from others about the album on YouTube and various App-like platforms. I have an open-mind, so I don’t take negative comments too seriously, but what I found was surprising. I found words about the well-crafted work of art that most people have commented on various channels calling it a “masterpiece” and I would have to agree.
The nice people of Counter Records and Ninja Tune were cool enough to provide images of Davids and Ivory, and they were so helpful and quick in their responses. I believe that good people surround themselves with other good people – this band is just all-around good vibes.
“The first album felt quite insular for us” says Chris, “not just in sound, but literally that it was all written in The Shack. We always had a bigger idea of what we wanted it to be, we wanted to create something that was palpable, that could in some way transport you to another country or another place entirely in your mind”. “The idea with Maribou State was always to draw on influences from different parts of the world” continues Liam “by traveling, sampling, recording, we wanted to create this all-encompassing thing. Which is what this second record has ended up being for us” (*Maribou State’s Bandcamp bio)
I have suggested this album to many of my friends, most of them very critical and stubborn to try new albums. All from different genre interests, I was curious to see what emotion would be pulled from them. Surprisingly, the reactions were the same across the board. Not only did they begin to have a similar attachment as I did, but they went as far as to add the album to their personal playlists and I’ve even caught my partner playing the album while cooking or playing video games.
Just like this zine, art is about sharing experiences. This album has the flexibility to cater to everyone’s style and needs. This is a good-day album, bad-day album, moody album, and whatever you need it to be album. Experience it yourself on Spotify and Bandcamp. Head to mariboustate.co.uk to snag your copy of their album Kingdoms In Colour (I enjoy the turquoise vinyl, personally), or search for a tour date near you.
- Art Cult Zine