Maria Moles “For Leolanda”

Melbourne percussionist Maria Moles treads lightly on her new album for Room4, For Leolanda, but that doesn’t mean this music drifts off without leaving an impression. Varied sonic patterns flow in and out of For Leolanda, but there is always a rhythmic connection to these pieces. Principally inspired by Kulintang music of the Philippines, Moles creates her own connotative expressions in the different emotive shapes this music generates.

A mix of airy keys and quick rhythms scatter across the lush expanses of opener “River Bend.” Synthesizers drone beneath a surface of glistening keys and aqueous rings, all of it feeling sunkissed and alive. Moles delves into scattered yet expressive rhythmic interludes that send “River Bend” into a sonorous drift, imbuing the track with an infectious lightness. Her gossamer touch on the kit makes the cymbal swells and crashes that much more impactful, exclamations on the delicate beauty of the piece. 

Spiritual jazz undercurrents highlight the rhythmic stomp in the opening stanzas of “In Pan-as.” A recurring theme on For Leolanda that continually draws me in and heightens my connection with the album is the way Moles uses her kit to add organic, natural-sounding elements. Throughout “In Pan-as,” she uses various techniques with the snare and other drums to mimic wind, rain, and even thunder. Murky images form within these aural valleys, a gray cloud tickling each jagged edge and cloaking the shifting resonances with soft textures. It’s all very tactile and engaging. 

There’s so much to like about For Leolanda. It’s an album that draws listeners in with ease and shifts in unexpected ways that spark new tendrils to follow. Moles changes direction midway through songs like “Mansaka” and the aforementioned “In Pan-as,” starting down a well-worn path only to veer off into the sprawling wilderness. It’s exciting, though, and she connects these dots with ease. For Leolanda is like a stream spilling out of its banks and enveloping all the surrounding terrain, connecting to something larger. For Leolanda finds its inspiration in unexpected places and in turn takes a surprising journey of its own. 

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