Maribou State at KoKo
Despite growing popularity, Maribou State enter the stage with the same awkward humility of a band playing their first gig. Maybe it’s the size of the venue, maybe it’s the fact that there’s only two of them (three if you include the drummer) or maybe it’s the blandness of their lift-music support act, but as the band launch into their opening number, Rituals, there’s an almost tangible lack of performance. Twinkling light bulbs and flashing LEDs draw the eye for a few seconds, but otherwise the stage is given over entirely to the high-tech machinery of electronica. Nothing distracts from the music itself, which would be fine if the music itself were anything more than formulaic repetition.
Make no mistake, Maribou State’s music is interesting to a certain degree. The many textures at play in tracks such as Home and Moon Circles are intriguing and complex, and capably convey the level of craft at work in the band’s music. The fusion of guitar and drums with synth contraptions and pads is an inventive way to bridge the gap between digital and analogue, and it works well as ambient musical soundtrack. But as the centre of attention, and with very little to embellish it, the formula quickly grows old. The addition of Holly Walker’s sultry vocals on songs like Midas and Steal adds a much needed element of soulfulness to the set, but although Walker clearly has a fantastic voice, it’s difficult to make out the lyrics over the cacophony of the band at large.
However, that’s not to say that there aren’t strokes of brilliance. Subtle alterations in pitch and tempo make for artful song transitions. Tongue really has a sense of the James Bond theme about it and when the music dares to build to a crescendo, as in this track and their final number, a cover of Fatboy Slim’s Praise You, the music can get exhaustingly intense without ever losing its critical complexity.
Maribou State are clearly fantastic musicians, but it seems they still have to outgrow the uneasiness of being in the public eye in order to become great performers.
For further information about Maribou State and future events, visit here.
Watch the video for Midas here: