Maribou State: The Five Records That Changed The Way We Make Music
We’ve been writing, recording, and producing music, in some form, since we were teenagers. Having been creating music for nearly 18 years, it has become increasingly apparent that this is a skill that will always need nurturing and developing. The progression of our idols and our peers is what opens our minds, inspires us, and ultimately pushes us to grow as musicians and write better songs. We’re always finding new music that challenges us to look at our process and our output, so here are five records that during this journey have really made us reflect on our approach in the studio and motivated us to think differently about how we make music.
AFX – Arched Maid Via RDJ [Warp Records]
Little explanation is needed when it comes to talking about Aphex Twin and his technical ability to make music. Needless to say, many of his tracks have offered huge inspiration for us when it comes to working on our own productions. This track (under the alias AFX) came onto our radar very early on, and aside from the intricate drum programming, which in itself is very impressive, really set our sights high on the execution and structure of the melody. The lead line here floats in like a hazy Jimi Hendrix-esque guitar solo, its long structure meanders around, and despite never really looping still feels like you’ve heard a memorable hook. The timbre of the synth, also constantly changing, is a real lesson in terms of humanising synthesis. The lead synth sound feels like it’s continuously evolving and modulating, keeping you interested throughout and also giving off a very human feel as if actually played on a guitar.
Jai Paul – Jasmine [XL Recordings]
Jai Paul, in general, really changed the way in which we make music. More accurately, with “Jasmine,” he had a really strong effect on the actual songwriting side of things. Since hearing his last official release, it’s true to say that he still does have a significant impact on us. Back in 2012 when this demo dropped it really blew our heads off. Melodically and tonally it just felt like an ever-giving collision of influences such as Prince, Michael Jackson, all slammed together in a fresh off-kilter, but cohesive way. The guitar chords and vocal melodies really show off their prowess by standing up against a relentless repeating bass that doesn’t detract from the harmonic structure in any way. Another key element of Jai Paul’s writing and production that we adopted early on is the clever placement of his little instrumental and vocal chops and cuts, an abundance of meticulous and in some cases startling little earworms of synthy style fx’s and generally just dotting things in and around the mix to keep the listener interested.
Shlohmo – Rained The Whole Time (Nicolas Jaar Remix) [Friends of Friends]
This track is one of those songs that carries with it a very potent dose of nostalgia. I’m not exactly sure when it was released, but it came into our world literally months after putting out our first EP, so it became pretty informative towards future writing sessions and was re-visited a lot for reference. It’s such an interesting remix. It’s sonically superb, and everything sits in its own place with great precision, but mostly it’s the dynamism of the instrumentation, the overall sound design, and the song’s structure that really invoke inspiration. The use of guitar in this track would have certainly encouraged us to pick up the instrument more in the studio, of course being a remix that credit feeds through to Shlohmo. On that note, he had another track titled “Seriously,” which also was a “big guitar in electronic music” influence for us. Back to this remix, we remember the first section with the repeating clap part really grabbing our attention, the drum programming in general, all super precise but feeling fluid and lifelike. Another great part of this production is all the extra textural and spatial sounds that keep building in the mix, really pushing the dynamics. It’s a real headphones track, and still listening today feels very inspirational and fresh.
Luke Abbott – Modern Driveway [Notown]
Again, this one dropped around the early days of Maribou, not quite sure when we first got our grubby mitts on it, but it became a real staple on the afterparty playlist, and we listened to it a lot. The simplicity of this one speaks volumes, and it was such a kick up the ass in terms of how to approach chord progressions and progression in general. Like other songs in this list, it stuck with us over the years, and if memory serves me correct ‘Modern Driveway’ had some part to play in the direction and rhythmical style in which the chords were written on our own track “Wallflower.” I think this song really is a bit of a wonder how it remains so interesting and hypnotic throughout with very little parts to play with. For me, it still stands up today as a lesson in ‘less is more,’ serving as a great reminder that you don’t need to overcomplicate or over layer your music if the core elements are solid.
Floating Points – Myrtle Avenue [Eglo Records]
Maybe one of the best pieces of electronic music ever made? Another welcomed regular on the afterparty playlist too; this was a very important piece of music to us back in the early days of us producing electronic music – still is! I think this one really changed our approach to creating music in many ways, but one thing that still stands out to this day is the art of holding back and not giving things away too soon. An absolutely killer chord progression that takes form as a glorious melody and lands at around five minutes. Regardless, the journey to get there has hardly been dull — full of interesting twists and turns. Another valuable thing to take from this record is the seamless marriage of live instrumentation and electronic elements, there’s a perfect fusion between the instrumentation, and everything feels so connected and from the same world. We also think that the attention to detail and nuanced programming of this record (that again all really come alive on headphones) is very important when approaching a track of such a long length, and “Myrtle Avenue” is a great reference for that.