Maria BC is a classically trained singer, skilled guitarist and composer with an innate gift for vast and majestic melodies, but the defining force of their music is the mood: an overarching melancholy that darkens everything like heavy clouds. thunderstorm. The debut EP from the Oakland-based artist, Devil’s Rain, which arrived in the heart of winter 2021, and its five songs – composed entirely of electric guitar and vocals, recorded alone in their apartment, in low voices so as not to disturb their roommates – sounded like a collection of demos stripped down to a dream-pop band. Ghostly and stripped down, the songs leave you imagining how they might blossom if stripped of the cobwebs and brought to light.
Their first feature film, Hyaline, does not extend their approach. Instead, Maria BC further deconstructs and distorts the music to make it even hazier. In the most fleshed out songs, like the mind-blowing ‘The Only Thing’, their vocals and guitar are accompanied by distant roar, layered harmonies and slamming percussion – never quite reaching the heights of a song. pop but showing hints of what would be the emotional climax. “I find I can’t think back so far / Fogging up car windows,” they sing in the chorus, describing the limits of memory and offering a visual representation of how these songs feel: familiar and opaque, distant and bittersweet.
The abstract approach, ironically, brings us closer to the spirit of the music, helping the songs stick in your head. Maria BC has a knack for wordless hooks – the opera ah in “April”, the curious eh of “Rerun” – and they gravitate towards textures that reward a good pair of headphones: gasps and whispers, clicks and scratches, amplifier fuzz and room tone. And while the lyrics are rarely the focal point and sometimes indecipherable, the loudest ones resonate without building anything close to a narrative. In “Good Before,” their portrayal of an internal transformation is reflected in a few key images: a swarm of locusts, the drifting stars, “travelling alone as the trees stretch out in the morning light.”
Hyaline is a beautiful record, but these lines hint at an undercurrent of horror – the quality which, together with their subtly catchy songcraft, sets Maria BC apart from other artists making dreamy ambient pop in the shadow of Grouper and Cocteau. Twins. From time to time, they outright summon ghosts. The cut, orchestral beats of “Keepsakes” suggest chilling film music, while their low, tremulous vocals in “The Big Train” have the unsettling quality of someone about to burst into tears or a primal scream. . As for the spectral performances on Devil’s RainMaria BC Registered Hyaline alone in their apartment. The difference is that these songs refuse to stand still: they drift down the hallways, restless and disoriented, drawing your attention to the empty space around them.