TITLE: The Navigation
RELEASED: May 5th 2012
Having never listened to “organic electropop” before, I wasn’t sure what to expect when MAUD e-mailed me with an EP review request. I assumed it would be purely about the different sounds each instrument makes and incorporating them in interesting, original formats. Turns out that I wasn’t too wrong!
The North London trio have come together from very different, exotic backgrounds with singer Maud Waret and multi-instrumentalist Philippe Locke meeting in the Himalayas in India. Danish percussionist Nikolaj Bjerre joined later and with plenty of organic instruments and analogue sounds, the three set out to write and record their debut EP The Navigation. Their live shows also see the arrival of guitarist Diogenes Baptistella, which injects a massive dose of energy and lights up their performances.
Starting with Latitude, the violin intro suggests a calming classical piece which then changes into a synth and bass filled backing. Maud’s soft vocals fall over the top in a floaty cascade in time to the pop beat. It is a little bit like a less dramatic Florence and the Machine number with a more tropical influence. The instrumental features an electronic sound that resembles an ambulance roaring off to rescue someone and it is a little disconcerting along with the dreamy atmosphere created.
It then rolls casually into possibly the most literal song I’ve ever heard, Deep Blue. As the title suggests, it’s a track that drifts along, ebbing and flowing in a mindless daze. A resonating piano and haunting vocal are the main sounds while the musical ocean gently sways into babe-in-arms mode, causing you to quite easily disappear into dreamland. If small children are having trouble sleeping, I highly recommend this track!
Third on the EP is Seule, which I like to think of as the central piece. It’s sung in French and adds that slice of culture to the EP, which is something that definitely makes it unique. Seule means alone in French and indeed, the song is a little isolated on the record. A melancholy piano runs underneath the monotone melody. It does end in more of a crescendo. which has some great live potential particularly when backed up with that guitar.
Moving on to my favourite track on the EP, Limbo. It’s a lot more upbeat and with the retro pop feel to (think ABBA), it’s a real feel-good song. Limbo has a lot more attitude to it than the other tracks and is almost like the problem child amongst a family of goody-two-shoes. The strong drum and electronic spurts make it exciting, fresh and altogether, easily their best. It’s the one song on this EP that is bound to get you dancing and having a real good time to.
Finishing on Lady Day, a classic mellow pop song, the EP ends on a retro note but retains the electropop element. The simple acoustic guitar keeps it simple and actually, for a band that love using lots of different instruments and layers, Lady Day is quite stripped back and there isn’t an awful lot to the music.
The Navigation is a great first effort from MAUD, who are without a doubt a very unique act. They clearly have a lot of talent and although their sound isn’t accessible to everyone, they have some killer tunes and the many faces of the group are shown to perfection on this record.