Published Jan 28, 2014Des Era, the second LP by Montreal's Maica Mia, is a leap forward for a group that has already established itself as intriguingly dark and fiercely nonconformist. Its five songs — most of which clock in at eight minutes or more — are simple, repetitive dirges that ebb and flow with waves of noise.
Maica Mia is the duo of Maica Armata on vocals and Jonny Paradise on drums and samplers, recently joined by Mauro Pezzente of Godspeed You! Black Emperor on bass. That said, the album really boils down to three musical elements: Armata's voice, which offers a polished, beautiful contrast to the dark storm around it; her guitar, playing repetitive, trance-inducing chords through rich, singing distortion; and the rhythmic interplay of Armata's guitar and Paradise's drums, creating energy and tension, and propelling the songs forward with a voice of its own.
The album's standout track, "Eugene," falls between a prayer and a tortured cry, as Armata repeats the song's namesake over and over as the music swells around her. It sands in contrast to "neH2ble," the album's climax, where her voice grows looser and soars over a cascading landscape of sound.
Des Era suffers occasionally from jarring changes to its simple instrumentation, as with the addition of synths on "oww oww" and electronic drums on "des era." Through all of it, Maica Mia still come off as a band finding their sound. What they have done, though, is created an entire musical universe unlike any other. (Independent)