New solo music from Mari Maurice always makes the world a better place. I still go back to 2020’s mari regularly, but since oneiric turned up, it’s taken over. If ‘oneiric’ means dreaming, or related to dreams, then oneiric is a fantasy world where dreams are a tangible reality; where our emotions are tactile figures embracing us close in one moment before pushing away and disappearing completely the next.
Opener “a romance” starts with quiet whispers and gentle strings swelling in the distance. Trickling electronics scurry through the melodic valleys adding webs of texture even though more eaze is trying her best to show restraint. This is the beginning of the dream where we try to keep ourselves in check and not let the overwhelming sense of longing and joy take over. Eventually the ocean floods in through layers of distortion and rising vocal spikes sending out silvery tendrils ready to go all in before pulling back again on “the neighborhood.”
In less capable hands, this music would be disjointed and vexing, but Mari Maurice is as good as there is anywhere. Miniscule details are pinprick exclamations; the crystal clear details our mind focuses on in our most vivid memories. At a shade under 11 minutes, “the neighborhood” is sprawling in some ways but is ultimately an intimate whisper. It’s like a reimagining of John Martyn’s “Small Hours” from 100 years in the future. Indiscriminate electronic bloops walk melodies hand-in-hand with angular atmospherics down empty streets haunted by flickering neon. I may not be able to make out a word Mari says, but it just makes me want to lean in further. Violin sings as she shifts from barely-audible murmurs to quixotic singing, everything becomes weightless as our embrace lifts us skyward.
Mari’s use of field recordings brings a different kind of intimacy to oneiric. Banal sounds like a running sink, ice sloshing in a glass, or blurred conversations heighten the feeling like we’re inhabiting the same physical spaces as this music. That feeling of being there makes oneiric simultaneously more lucid and less fantastical but intensifies the impact.
There are only two guest appearances on oneiric, but they’re both heavy hitters. claire rousay joins the fray on “heartbreak” where a quiet, pensive rhythm underlines the guitar progressions in their search for the right words, or any words, over the tears. It all feels lonely but alive. “uninvited” sends piano flares over the moon, holding out hope that someone else will also find their way into the lunar night. Lucy Liyou spins vocal magic into every expanse of “uninvited,” the tension of each stretched note hanging on to the weight of forever.
Hidden beneath the simmering arrangements is a heart reaching for a connection, but aware that it’s drifting into the distance out of reach. Closer “crii” turns the page, but the fantasy world is full of cracks and it doesn’t matter if the synths and beats lithely point arrows toward a new dawn. We all have to wake up. We all have to face the reality of tomorrow. At least with more eaze slipstreaming through our speakers, there’s a magical beauty in the bubbling despondency and we can wear a glamorous mask. Keep on loving’ til your love has gone away…