By Derek Cooper
Santiago, Chile is a unique place for unique music. It is not, however, where I expected to find some interesting shoegazey post-punk. Chile’s Maff is a three year old four-piece consisting of Richi Gómez (vocals, bass, guitar), Nicolás (Nek) Colombres (drums), Martín Colombres (guitar), and Talo Correa (guitar, bass, vocals, synth). Having recorded this in their very own studio, they felt that they had a good amount of room to experiment. It shows in their self-titled EP, which is eight tracks of varying styles, ranging from near grunge to cerebral shoegaze, exploring themes such as mysticism, timelessness, and freedom.
The instrumental "Act 1" starts off the album in a riffy, dreamy wash of effects and a consistent drum pattern with lots of ghost notes filling the space between guitars. The next track, "Linger Around," features a guitar line blended into the vocals, which are reminiscent of Interpol. The drums are very straightforward, attacking in just the right way to feature the driving nature of the song. "Walking On Fire" is a walking speed feel good tune with gang-vocal “heys” and filtered vocals, with a melody and feeling like something from a new The National album.
"Million Year Picnic" holds some ghostly vocals and lots of space. Throughout the entire album Maff does a distinctly interesting job blurring the line between vocals and guitars. The EP has a driving, almost anthemic feel under all the reverb and synth sounds. "Someday" slows things down and eases us in to some female vocals. If you’re a fan of Ride or Slowdive, here is your song. "You," the poppiest of the songs, brings guitars that would sound at home on a late Jawbreaker record and combines them with heartfelt vocals at home with Bad Astronaut. "Planet Wave" is probably my favorite on the EP. It’s a balls out tune with some thrashing and hooky guitar that would get you pumped up before going out on a Friday night. "Blue Seas" brings it home with a melancholy-yet-driving Best Coast style drum beat that eventually drops off in to brooding, atmospheric instrumental sludge. A memorable ending.
In all, Maff’s EP is a surprisingly robust display of a grab bag of styles. This album will pump you up and relax you at the same time. The second half of the album especially showcases the variety the band can pull off. This is an EP full of ups and downs in a way that still comes off as confident and coherent. As far as album order, I would have done “segments” of ups and downs, and not oscillating back and forth, but I consider that qualm strictly personal taste. This is a very strong initial release for a relatively young band, and I am excited to see where they go next with their competent handling of themselves. I would specifically recommend this for fans of Pavement or Dinosaur Jr. that don’t mind some reverb and synth.