mari maurice aka more eaze returns to Ecstatic with a tenderly gorgeous solo side after her standout claire rousay collaboration last year for the same label - a big recommendation if yr into Elysia Crampton, Mica Levi, MBV, Vegyn, Organ Tapes, Grouper, Dntel, Nozomu Matsumoto, Rainy Miller.
Nestling in the space between ambient, indie-/synth-, and what’s now termed hyper-pop, more eaze specialises in lower case songcraft that effortlessly gets under the skin. Featuring notable guest input by Spivak, Dialect, and Pam3, ‘The Joker’ is perhaps more eaze’s most significant long player, forming a filigree distillation of soft-touch, emo-core pop styles wreathed in fractal electronics and blessed by a gentle sensitivity that feels like micro-dosing with mates on a sunny day.
’The Joker’ was inspired by more eaze’s experiences travelling extensively during 2021-22, absorbing and transmuting time spent meeting new people, seeing new places, and watching established relationships change. Like regular spar claire rousay, ‘The Joker’ finds micro-insights crystallised to odd-pop imperfection, merging ohrwurm hooks with field recordings and traces of electronica, R&B, reggaeton, and classic indie-rock chops to divine a personal truth that should resonate with lovers of low key ambient as much as hi-key poptimism.
Through nine subtly effected snapshots of daily life, mari somehow encapsulates the feeling of trying to endear yourself to someone new, the tactility of another’s touch, chuckling at misfired jokes. Beginning with fractured toytronics and autotune vox in ‘yours’, melodies spill over from the Dntel-like licks of ‘fall apart’, to the mutant shoegaze bliss of ‘vindictive’ (it properly sounds like an autotuned version of MBV’s ‘to here knows when’), plus E+E-via-Palmistry reggaeton of ‘hablar contagion', with Spivak lending featherlight vox to ‘a chat’, while ‘comedy’ dials up a sense of outsider irony with a wry shrug.
Liverpool-via-Brooklyn’s Dialect helps seal the deal with the burbling touch of ‘eyeliner’, a fittingly hypnagogic ending to a dreamlike album whose effect lingers like latent fractals of a therapeutic psilocybin session.