Photo: Alexandra Waespi

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

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.

RATING 9 / 10