Album Review - Maribou State's "Portraits"

By Ryan Kluge

Electronic duo from London, Maribou State, releases their debut full-length album Portraits on June 1, 2015 via Counter Records. The album features ten unique tracks,  both instrumentals and songs including vocals, which include some eerie and dark overtones atypically found in music of such a genre. 

Maribou State perfectly combines electronic and organic sounds, such as guitars and pianos, in each track of the album to invent one of a kind soundscapes that are both tranquil yet full of motion. Portraits is an album that those who are not fans of electronic dance music can enjoy. 

Home,” the first track on the album, is an instrumental that adequately sets the overall tone of the album with pensive guitar chords repeating throughout accompanied with a down-tempo drumbeat. The emphasis on organic instruments with some syncopated rhythms give this track, along with many others on the album, a jazzy feel that you also dance too. 

Following is “The Clown” which features UK artist Pedestrian and introduces vocals to the album. The song is formed around a piano line that holds consistent almost through the whole song. Many interesting ambient sounds are used that give the song some very eerie textures. 

Wallflower,” in my opinion, is the albums most intense song. It is another that has a more down-tempo feel and would fit appropriately in a very dramatic scene in a movie. A ramping synth, along with some very strange noises, strings, and ghostly vocals make this song the darkest, and most uneasy one on Portraits.

Portraits perfectly concludes with “Varkala,” which is certainly the most somber track of the album. This song steps away from the dancier styles of the preceding nine tracks and leaves the listener with the haunting, stripped down and spacey sounds featured in this finisher. 

Maribou State’s first full-length Portraits is by far one of the most unique and distinctive electronic albums of the year. It is clearly taking on new terrain driving in a different direction that many other artists in similar genres are going. They artfully expose the coming together of both synthesized and sampled sounds with organic and traditional sounds in a way that many have not done or heard. Portraits is strange but soothing, dancey while down-tempo, and solemn yet surreal. It definitely is an album that all should experience, regardless of particular taste.

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