Artist Review: MALMØ

‘If you want to find your inner peace, let these intriguingly beautiful tracks be your guide.’ 

Intro to MALMØ:
If you have already read my interview with Maria Malmoe, you will know that there is much to discover about Denmark based band MALMØ. However, if you haven’t it’s safe to say that in singer-songwriter Maria combining personal inspiration with artistic influences from the likes of Bjork, the musical result is one of wondrous beauty. Giving us an intriguing auditory insight into what we can expect from their forthcoming debut album, (out 4th May), both ‘You’ and ‘We Come from the Stars’ are full of enticing musicality to whet our appetite for more.

Featured Track 1: You
Feeling like it’s going be an experimental track, the slightly glitchy nature of the opening few seconds of ‘You’ make for a very beautiful, but very misleading introduction. It feels atmospheric. It feels confusing. But most of all, it feels intriguing. This though is only the start of the evocative journey we are about to go on and as we shift to a more waltz-influenced combination of interweaving delicate piano and guitar, a true introduction is found.

Feeling a world away from the atmospheric opening, this musical shift brings – both literal and metaphorical – harmony and accompanied by snare-dominant drums, we begin to drift to wonderfully peaceful place. You feel relaxed. You feel enticed. However, following the opening lyrics of ‘Long ago I was lost in this world,’ you become increasingly soothed and infused with effortlessly bass guitar lines, high-hat infused drums and synth bell-tones, the accompaniment gently supports Maria’s soft, touching vocal. Are we in fact the ‘you’ that she is speaking to? It certainly feels that way.

Moving through to the chorus, the sensation of this being a track to soothe, heal even, really comes to the fore. Returning briefly to the purposeful nature found within the harmonic introduction, the sound lifts. No longer are we drifting, we have in fact found the world – or indeed the one – we were heading toward. It’s wonderfully stylish – both in terms of vocal and instrumentally musicality – but in addition there are showcase moments which feel incredibly orchestral in approach. Take the way in which the track is held back when transitioning between the verse and chorus as just one highly accomplished sounding example.

Reaching the latter half of the track, the second verse sees the introduction of further textures bringing warmth. Seamlessly infused with the earlier accompanying elements, a gently whining high-pitched guitar line begins to appear. Based around fragmented pitches within the chorus vocal, its more free-form nature provides an incredibly musical contrast to the established regularity. However, as we head toward the tracks final moments, it serves an even greater purpose and beautifully guides us to a dream like ending where we feel completely at peace.

Featured Track 2: We Come from the Stars
Immediately transporting us to the coast, the introduction of ‘We Come from the Stars’ creates a wonderful image of sitting, looking out to sea. In someways it’s no a surprise given Maria’s go to place for writing is among nature, but this is more than a musical nod. It’s a full-on acknowledgement. However, this isn’t just there to simply fill musical space, but instead create a whole atmosphere and within seconds you are immersed in the listening experience.

Having been lulled beautifully by the sound of lapping waves, the sense of being close to places of inspiration becomes reinforced via the use of high pitched tropical sounding guitar lines and jazz influenced drums. Dominated by the use of open snare, it’s a sound rarely featured in new releases, but here, it works wonderfully and having brought a greater sense of pace, you find yourself swaying to the musicality surrounding you. It’s immensely inviting, and as Maria’s vocal gently soars out of the textural accompaniment, you can’t help but join her on the journey toward the stars from which we come.

Moving away from the more experimental nature of the opening, the verse feels much more ‘traditional’ in format. Working in the purest way possible, there is clear distinction between melody and accompaniment and therefore little to distract from the sophisticated lyrics. This said, the underlying instrumentation is far from uninteresting. In fact with the drums noticeable by their absence, what sits underneath is a clever combination of ambient samples and chord based palm muted guitar. Individually each of these elements would make a great listen, but together, it makes for a sublime auditory experience. But more is to come.

Creating warmth within the vocal through the use of multi-tracked harmonies, we are wonderfully guided out of the verse and into what could easily be classed as a mini-chorus. Transitioning seamlessly into the delicately earworm-inducing lyrics of ‘We all come from the stars,’ it’s the perfect demonstration of incredibly effective musical restraint. Additionally, set against a musical montage of swirling fragment guitar melodies and developing drum patterns, you really feel like it’s heading somewhere. And it is, but not just yet.

Continuing to effortlessly carry us on our sky-ward journey, the lyrical content within the verses becomes increasingly based on celestial metaphors. Passing through passages such as ‘our universe resides within our souls’ there is no getting away from the essence of track or the essence of MALMØ’s music. Likewise, each return of the chorus brings further emphasis and helped by transformations within the bridge, the track becomes more instrumentally than vocally focused.

Based around the repeating lyrics of ‘we still glow in the dark’ the sense of freedom and floating becomes increasingly carefree. Driven initially by a combination of rhythmically developing drum patterns – which are now infused with delicate uses of cymbal – the track hints at taking on an almost experimental jazz form. However, as this transformation continues and distant sounding synths transform into a luscious soundscape, the perfect musical sky appears for Maria’s vocal to shine like a star.