Maribou State Skillfully Layer a Bold, Prismatic Fusion of Styles on 'Kingdoms in Colour'

Photo: Alexandra Waespi

Maribou State have created a beautifully heterogeneous album with Kingdoms in Colour that illustrates what can be achieved by focusing one's gaze outwards and embracing diversity.

Kingdoms in Colour
Maribou State


7 September 2018

In a period characterized by self-imposed isolation and wilful insularity. At a time when governments are going to great lengths to demarcate their territory and reinforce their boundaries, British electronic band Maribou State have produced an album that does quite the opposite.

After recording their previous album Portraits in a home built studio known as "The Shack", Chris Davids and Liam Ivory, the production duo behind the band, were keen to look outwards and to see where the wider creative journey might take them. Taking inspiration from the music scenes and heritage of the places they had toured in, Kingdoms in Colour is an album without borders. An album that straddles the globe from Delhi through to Lisbon, and pays little attention to where one genre starts and another ends.

"Beginner's Luck" opens the album in spiritual fashion with a gospel style piano and vocals before motorik drums and an ice-cold funk bassline are joined by a ringing riff that binds the whole thing together. As on the rest of the album, the swooning, ethereal vocal samples are perfectly rooted in the mix. Acting like an abstract for what's to follow, the pair weave and layer a multitude of influences that can be picked apart over multiple listens. From the Indian melodies, the Krautrock percussion to the closing, sweeping East Asian strings, the effect is like going a whistle-stop world tour all in the space of four and a half minutes.

"Kingdom" is a full-on funk jam replete with handclaps, glorious electronic samples, and woozy, tribal rhythms. The pair have managed to saturate their sound with all the vitality of a live band on a track that sounds like it would fit perfectly on an Ethiopiques compilation. "Turnmills" is the album's stone cold dancefloor filler. Sampling the Kashmere Stage Band and showing off the band's flair for layering percussion, in a just world it would be their crossover hit. Taking in everything from meditative wind chimes to pure funk rhythms, it rides on a propulsive house riff with the whole thing summoning the sensation of stumbling on a club night in an ancient temple.

The warm, pacifying "Nervous Tics", comes across like a remix of a long forgotten, soul tune. It sees the band's smooth, soulful vibe beautifully complimented by Holly Walker as she urges us to remember the joys of simply being rather than losing ourselves further in the isolating labyrinth of the digital world. The gliding Indian strings and the samples of twittering birds on "Glasshouses" are like stepping into a luscious garden bathed in sunlight. As it floats to its conclusion, it illustrates the pairs ability to transport the listener to somewhere new.

The incredible "Feel Good" sees the pair team up with Houston-based funk collective Khruangbin on a song that sees all players quickly lock into a deep groove. Built on a rolling bass, an ice-cool riff and clattering percussion the song is a masterclass in how to dice and splice vocal samples for maximum effect. Holly Walker returns on "Slow Heat" where her crystal clear vocals compliment the Nina Simone-esque piano before the track gently evolves into a soft house track.

As the album elegantly and fluently glides to its conclusion the duo use scuffed beats and smooth guitar on "Vale", initially sounding like a leftover from Radiohead's In Rainbows album. Featuring a sample of Belgian jazz singer Melanie de Baliso's "I Feel You", the song soon morphs into a sophisticated summer tune. Album closer, Kama concludes the album with a light touch before bursting into life with bursts of brass and breezy vocals.

On Kingdoms in Colour, Maribou State skillfully layer a bold, prismatic fusion of styles that takes the listener on a beguiling musical journey. It is a daring, fascinating album that beautifully balances the organic and synthetic as the pair weave in live instruments with artfully chosen samples. By embracing a more expansive approach, the band have created a beautifully heterogeneous album that illustrates what can be achieved by focusing one's gaze outwards and embracing diversity.





Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.


JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.


All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.


Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.


Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.


Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.


'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.


Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.


Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.